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Friday, September 30, 2022

Google's Stadia Service Ending; Refunds to be Distributed

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I had to look into why they're offering refunds.

The last time I dedicated an article about Google's Stadia hardware/service (which was in 2021 when they announced they were shutting down Stadia Games and Entertainment, their first-party dedicated development group), I started that off with “I don't know a single person who uses Google's cloud game streaming service, Stadia.” My first instinct in trying to begin THIS article was to begin the same way (because it's still true), but I suppose I should be at least a little more original.

This week, Google announced that the Stadia “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.” And interestingly, they “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 final play sessions.” Google then claims to “remain deeply committed to gaming” and that the underlying streaming technology of the Stadia won't be going away, though how exactly it'll manifest in the future wasn't specified.

Interestingly, you don't have to (and CAN'T) return any hardware you purchased to get a refund on that hardware. (No refunds on the monthly Stadia Pro subscription fees.) Because of the nature of the Stadia, your hardware will be literally useless after January 2023, because there won't be any games to be streamed. I'm still not sure how that justifies a refund, and it's a frightening precedent for the industry. Google can afford to refund people on their now-useless product, but if a smaller company went bankrupt because their product failed, I'm sure they couldn't afford to refund anyone.

I'm not going to try to write a retrospective on the Stadia because, quite frankly, I wasn't following it at all. I'm sure I can't top things like the Verge's Google Stadia never mattered, and it never had a chance, which is the kind of headline I should be writing but won't because I'm not confident in what the heck happened in the Stadia's product development timeline.

It took me a while to realise that with the Stadia Pro subscription, there was a small (few-dozen) games that you could “claim” (play at no additional cost while the subscription is still active), but for everything else on the service, you had to pay for. But you could still pay for access to those games without the Stadia Pro subscription, because there's a free tier. It's the purchases you'd be doing to have access to those games that will also be refunded, because you'll no longer be able to have access to them. But why should you be refunded those? Hopefully if you purchased something, you got enjoyment out of it. Are there certain terms and conditions involve that promise availability of the games for a certain amount of time that are being broken by Google, so they're refunding it? It turns out the answer is yes:

“Removal or Unavailability of Content or Features Google will aim to keep all previously purchased content available for use and gameplay. You may temporarily lose access to your content due to service disruptions, maintenance of the service, limited server capacity in your area, removal of illegal or infringing content, or issues outside of Google’s reasonable control, and you will not be entitled to any refunds as a result.

If Google otherwise removes access to content you have purchased, Google may offer you a full or partial refund for purchased games and expansions and, if Google issues you a refund, that refund will be your sole remedy. You will not be entitled to any refund for any other add-on content, such as in-game purchases or virtual currency. You will not be entitled to a refund for the removal of content that is included with a subscription, including games and add-on content included with Stadia Pro.”
What's happening now with the Stadia is a digital gaming/cloud gaming horror story that is one of the reasons why people (like me) prefer buying physical versions of games whenever possible. In the original Stadia announcement article I wrote, I literally foreshadowed this happening, writing, “That said, there's an inherent flaw with any streaming service: You're at the mercy of the provider, which can discontinue your access to the game for any reason. You own nothing.”

So...yeah, this was all fairly predictable. If you really want cloud game streaming, there are other options out there. My impression is that the Xbox does it best right now—and you don't actually need an Xbox to play with Xbox Cloud Gaming. Same thing could end up happening with that, but at least as a company, Microsoft is ACTUALLY dedicated to videogames and has a long history of that. Google just claims they are.

Ludwig could've bullied the Stadia a lot more in this article, but plenty of other writers out there have done that. Also, he's a bit afraid that Google is going to end the Blogger content management system that KoopaTV runs on at some point in the near future, just because it's a Google product and Google likes to end non-search and non-advertising products that they offer, and Blogger really isn't in that core product suite of theirs and hardly receives new and useful updates, which means it's on the same path that Stadia is, just slower. He really should be nice in the interest of minimising karmic backlash.


  1. Stadias gone, essentially nothing has changed. Sad. If blogger is set to get taken down, what will happen to KoopaTV. Even if it's able to continue life on another platform, i don't imagine the transfer of years worth of articles would be seamless or maybe even possible at all. Sad.

    1. Stadia was destined to be..SADia?

      I dunno, suffering.

    2. Puns are the lowest form of humor! I'm not sure who said that, but there are exceptions.

      Well it's always good to plan ahead, especially for dubious companies like google.

    3. According to this “professionally funny” person on Quora, “Wit is said to be the highest form of humor. Wit is wordplay. Puns are a form of wordplay. So technically, puns are the lowest form of the highest form of comedy.”

      Which seems thematically similar to your own “The best of the worst is still the best of something!”


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