Google to close Stadia cloud service and refund gamers

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Stadia controllerImage source, Getty Images

Google has announced plans to shut down its Stadia cloud gaming service and refund players.

Stadia was touted as a "Netflix for games" when it launched in November 2019, allowing players to stream games online without owning a console.

But the service will now come to an end on 18 January 2023 because of a lack of "traction" with gamers.

Google has promised refunds to players who purchased its Stadia controller, as well as any games or add-on content.

It said it estimates those refunds will be completed by mid-January.

Media caption,

WATCH: Cloud gaming services, including Stadia, put to the test

Stadia games run on servers at Google data centres around the world, with the video footage streamed to a TV or mobile device.

Phil Harrison, vice-president and general manager of Stadia, said in a blog post: "A few years ago, we also launched a consumer gaming service, Stadia.

"And while Stadia's approach to streaming games for consumers was built on a strong technology foundation, it hasn't gained the traction with users that we expected so we've made the difficult decision to begin winding down our Stadia streaming service."

Google is pretty ruthless about culling products that don't work out - head to the website Killed by Google and you can immerse yourself in a long list of dearly departed Google brands (many of which you've probably never heard of).

Stadia launched to great fanfare in 2019 and was clearly Google's attempt to muscle in on the lucrative gaming market.

Stadia went beyond simply streaming games and even came with its own bespoke hardware.

But taking on the games giants is tough - even when you're a giant in your own right. What works for Xbox and PlayStation is difficult to replicate when their customers have already shelled out on consoles and subscriptions - and the firms behind them, Microsoft and Sony, have lucrative deals in place with the world's biggest games publishers.

It's perhaps no huge surprise that Phil Harrison said Stadia hadn't "gained the traction" that Google anticipated - marketing speak for "not enough bums on seats".

Google's decision comes as Netflix announced a more traditional move into the gaming market - establishing a studio to make games.