Google Stadia shutting down — what you need to know

Google Stadia
(Image credit: Google)

Google Stadia is not quite dead yet, but it doesn’t have long to live. Just about three years after Google introduced its novel cloud gaming service, the company has decided to shut Stadia down for good. 

If you bought Stadia games, you’ll have a few months to finish them up before they go offline forever, though some game makers are stepping up to assist abandoned Stadia customers. Ubisoft, for example, says it'll transfer any of its games that people bought on Stadia over to Ubisoft Connect.

There's another tiny bit of good news: If you bought Stadia hardware or software directly through Google, you can get a full refund.

Phil Harrison, Stadia’s general manager, announced the platform’s demise on The Keyword, Google’s official blog. In a short, straightforward post, Harrison discussed why Google has seen fit to shutter the service, and how long Stadia gamers will have to wrap things up:

“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,” Harrison said.

“We will be refunding all Stadia hardware purchases made through the Google Store, and all game and add-on content purchases made through the Stadia store. Players will continue to have access to their games library and play through January 18, 2023 so they can complete their final play sessions. We expect to have the majority of refunds completed by mid-January 2023.”

We've got our own analysis of why Google Stadia failed, along with a look at the future of cloud gaming.

Meanwhile, Google has compiled a Stadia shutdown FAQ for players who want to know more about the refund process, and how well their games will work until January.

While Stadia has its share of vociferous fans, the service has been a mixed bag since the beginning. In our own Stadia review from 2019, I wrote:

“When it's firing on all cylinders, Stadia works fine. But when it's not, it introduces a whole host of problems that traditional gaming systems simply don't have … It occurred to me while playing that Stadia is the germ of a great idea, but insisting that games must be all-streaming, all the time feels a little limiting.”

Indeed, more recent cloud gaming services, such as Xbox Game Pass and Nvidia GeForce Now, let downloadable and streaming options coexist. Stadia never took similar steps, which put it at a significant disadvantage against its closest competitors.

Early last year, I wrote an op-ed entitled “Google Stadia was never going to work,” in which I outlined the various problems that plagued the service. It seems that those problems have finally caught up with Stadia, which will now join the long list of projects Killed by Google.

Read next: Google Stadia's demise isn't deterring Netflix from considering a jump into cloud gaming

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.