Google is shutting down its digital gaming service Stadia, the latest ambitious project to be cut as the company looks to shed costs.
The gaming service, which launched in 2019 and runs on phones and the Chrome browser, “has not gained the traction with users that we expected,” Phil Harrison, a Google vice president, wrote in a blog post Thursday. “We have made the difficult decision to begin winding down our Stadia streaming service,” he wrote.
For Google, Stadia represented an opportunity to put its cloud streaming technology to work and enable immersive gameplay “on a massive scale,” according to Harrison. Stadia servers will be shut down on January 18, says the Stadia FAQ page. The company hoped that Stadia would compete with other gaming services such as Sony’s PlayStation Plus cloud streaming, Amazon’s Luna and Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming
The closure of Stadia is the latest move by CEO Sundar Pichai to cut costs after saying he wants to make the company 20% more efficient. Alphabet’s share price has fallen 34% this year, and in July the company reported disappointing revenue and profit figures. Pichai’s efficiency efforts, he said, could include product and staff cuts as the company anticipates a series of financial challenges and slowing growth.
Google recently canceled the next generation of its Pixelbook laptop and cut funding to its Area 120 in-house incubator.
Stadia’s future has been uncertain for a while. Last year, the company said it was disbanding the Stadia Games and Entertainment team, which developed its own original games for the service. Speculation swirled about the potential for a wider cut to the service.
Google said it will refund all purchases of Stadia hardware made through the Google Store and all purchases of games and add-on content in the Stadia Store. The company said it expects to complete the majority of the repayments by mid-January. Players will continue to have access to their game library and can play until January 18th.
Google said it will continue to support games in other areas and will help developers build and distribute game apps on Google Play and Google Play Games. Harrison also indicated that the technology used for Stadia will not go to waste.
“We see clear opportunities to apply this technology across other parts of Google like YouTube, Google Play and our Augmented Reality (AR) efforts – as well as making it available to our industry partners, which aligns with where we see the future of gaming on the way,” he wrote.
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