Stadia — Google’s game streaming platform — has looked shaky since losing its first-party games studios just 15 months after launching. But more than a year after that ominous sign, Stadia is still plugging along, with around 100 games (of variable quality) added each year.
Recently, an extremely sketchy rumor suggested that the service had finally run out of steam. In a now-deleted post in a Stadia Facebook group, someone claiming to have inside knowledge stated that Google had an “exit plan” for the service, with its shut down complete by “the end of summer.”
“Just a heads up,” the post reads. “Old coworker and friend of mine, Is [sic.] now one of the regional managers for Google,” it continues setting the scene for something which is almost certainly fictitious. “Long story short Google is beginning their [Stadia] exit plan. They did not have an exact date that end of service will happen, but they did say by the end of summer.”
It goes on to claim that the company “will not be transferring their services or servers to any other competition per se, and it will be much like they did with ‘Google Play Music’. Same exit approach and strategy.”
That’s actually the opposite of what happened with Google Play Music, which merged into YouTube Music upon closure. You’d think a regional manager at Google would be familiar with the company’s recent history.
The whole post was captured for posterity by the Killed By Google Twitter account, and you can read it below:
🍿 pic.twitter.com/p0ONYBDXCIJuly 28, 2022
Anyway, like many viral ‘friend of a friend’ posts on Facebook, it’s all baloney. Google has denied the story directly (opens in new tab), and gently mocked it via the Stadia social media account:
Just a heads upOld coworker of mine is now one of the social managers for Google. They had a pretty large seminar in California this past weekend, and long story short you now can play Wavetale at no additional cost on Stadia Pro until August 1: https://t.co/2O6P0Kd8Kd pic.twitter.com/Hjo0pvARKxJuly 29, 2022
So, Stadia is safe for the summer, and likely the rest of the year. But it would still be unwise to bet on its long-term prospects.
How long can Stadia last?
Perhaps wisely, Google doesn’t reveal the number of active users on Stadia, so it’s hard to accurately calculate market share. But that hasn’t stopped people from having a go.
When some numbers were shared back in February, one Redditor (opens in new tab) spotted that just 5,390 of the 860,000 people playing Destiny 2 were doing so via Stadia. That’s 0.6% of total players.
Coincidently — or perhaps not — those stats were shared about a week before it was revealed that Stadia was being “deprioritized” by Google. The Stadia team was only said to be spending about 20% of their time on Stadia itself, with the rest working on a white-label streaming service for third parties like Peloton, Capcom and AT&T.
Combine this with the lack of first-party exclusives and the mixed quality of the hundred-or-so games Stadia gets a year, and it points to a service that’s surviving rather than thriving.
That can only work for so long. If there’s little to attract new subscribers, the numbers will only go one way, and even a business fed from Google’s deep pockets can’t last forever. Just ask Google Reader, Google Buzz, Google Wave, Google Plus and the Pixel Slate.
Stadia may not be dead by the end of summer 2022, but I wouldn’t bet on it being here by fall 2024.