Daily Authority: 🎮 RIP Google Stadia

Google Stadia on smartphone next to gaming controller stock photo 1

🎮 Happy Friday everyone! Or maybe not so happy, if you’re a fan of Google Stadia. I’ve been big on the service in the past (and maintain that the streaming tech is unmatched), but ultimately gave up on it last year. And it looks like I wasn’t alone.

Google Stadia fills a plot in the Google Graveyard

Google Stadia controller on table

Yesterday Google announced that it’s shuttering the doors on Google Stadia after a little over three years of service. This is sad news to me as a Stadia Founder (there are hundreds of us! Hundreds!) but should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been keeping an eye on the cloud gaming service.

  • Stadia will cease functioning on January 18, 2023. Pro subscribers will retain access to their claimed titles until then without charge.
  • Purchases of Stadia hardware via the Google Store, including Founder’s Edition, controllers, and others, will be refunded in full.
  • Game purchases will also be refunded, although Stadia Pro subscriptions will not. Learn more about the refund process here.
  • The blog post blamed the closing on a lack of adoption from users, but it was also largely a victim of poor management and execution.
  • Many have been skeptical since launch, but the writing was really on the wall when Google closed its first-party studios last year.
  • We’ve also written extensively about Google’s commitment issues when it comes to hardware and services. And lamented the state of Stadia at the beginning of the year.
  • This not only adds another entry to Google’s long list of killed services, it also adds another notch to the belt of Stadia VP and GM Phil Harrison.
  • He’s previously overseen the disastrous launches of the PS3 and Xbox One, as well as the decline of Atari and Gaikai.
  • He also allegedly didn’t tell the Stadia team about the closure until minutes before the public announcement.
  • This is likely true, given that the Stadia communications team maintained the service wasn’t closing when asked on Twitter recently.
  • The team also launched a UI overhaul earlier in the day, and several games were slated for release in the coming months.
  • Even long-time partners like Bungie weren’t let in on the decision ahead of time.

What happens now?

  • The technology behind Stadia remains the best in the industry, and Google’s blog post claims some of it will be adopted across other Google services like YouTube, Google Play, and others.
  • There’s also still the possibility of Google white labeling the service, which is probably the best solution for everyone. Ubisoft is a likely candidate for this, considering its Ubisoft Plus subscription is already on Stadia.
  • Until then, there are several other cloud gaming services worth checking out.
  • Xbox Cloud Gaming, offered as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, is the closest to a “Netflix for games” that we’ve seen so far, although the streaming tech is noticeably worse than Stadia.
  • Nvidia’s GeForce Now is also a strong contender, although you still have to purchase games through Steam or other marketplaces. Game support is also more limited, although the streaming tech is pretty good.
  • Amazon Luna may also gain relevance once it expands support, but it may also suffer the same fate as Stadia without a parent company that’s well versed in the gaming industry.
  • Personally, I think Stadia’s failure won’t tarnish cloud gaming as a whole, since the poor business model and ham-fisted management have been well documented from the start.
  • It’s also hard to be too upset with Stadia’s generous refund policy. You can even download saved games via Google Takeout. That is, if you have anything else to play them on.
  • Do you think it was the right call to close Stadia? Make your voice heard in our poll.

Friday fun

pokemon game boy cart hacks ars technica

If you’re like me, you grew up playing Pokémon, and the classic games hold a spot near and dear to your heart. Some fans, however, are taking things even further by changing the code of classic games to add new Pokémon, more difficulty, or entirely new game mechanics.

Arstechnica ran a great piece on these “ROM hackers” yesterday, and it’s a fascinating look into the world of these hobbyist game designers. Game mods have been a big part of the gaming scene for decades now, but the sheer popularity of some of these fan-made Pokémon titles like Pokémon Prism or Pokémon Uranium has led to cease and desist orders from Nintendo. Still, the scene is thriving, with Twitch and YouTube streams introducing new fans every day.

Read the article to learn more about these projects, and check out some of our favorite emulators to play them while you’re at it.

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