Google is shutting down its Stadia digital gaming service, the latest ambitious project set to be cut as the company seeks to cut costs.
The gaming service, which launched in 2019 and runs on phones and the Chrome browser, “hasn’t gained the traction among users that we expected,” wrote Phil Harrison, a vice president of Google, in a blog post on Thursday. “We have made the difficult decision to close our Stadia streaming service,” he wrote.
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For Google, Stadia represented an opportunity to get its cloud streaming technology up and running and enable immersive gameplay “at scale,” according to Harrison. Stadia servers will be shut down on January 18, according to the Stadia FAQ page. The company hoped Stadia would compete with other gaming services like Sony’s PlayStation Plus cloud streaming, Amazon’s Luna, and Microsoft’s Xbox cloud gaming
Closing Stadia is CEO Sundar Pichai’s latest move to cut costs after saying he wants to make the company 20% more efficient. Alphabet’s stock price is down 34% this year, and in July the company reported disappointing sales and earnings numbers. Pichai’s efficiency efforts, he said, could include product and staff cuts as the company anticipates a series of economic challenges and slowing growth.
Google recently discontinued the next generation of its Pixelbook laptop and cut funding for its in-house Area 120 incubator.
The future of Stadia has been uncertain for some time. Last year, the company announced that it was dissolving the Stadia Games and Entertainment team that made its own original games for the service. Speculation swirled about the potential for a broader cut in the service.
Google said it will refund all Stadia hardware purchases made through the Google Store, as well as all game and add-on content purchases on the Stadia Store. The company expects to complete the bulk of the refunds by mid-January. Players will still have access to their game library and can play until January 18th.
Google said it will continue to support games in other areas, helping developers create and distribute gaming apps on Google Play and Google Play Games. Harrison also pointed out that the technology used for Stadia is not wasted.
“We see clear opportunities to apply this technology to other parts of Google like YouTube, Google Play, and our augmented reality (AR) efforts – and make it available to our industry partners, adapting to where we see the future of gaming.” directed,” he wrote.
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