Stadia, Google’s ambitious but ultimately doomed cloud gaming service, is shutting down at the end of today, January 18. Many gamers and developers are bidding the platform farewell, as is Stadia’s social media. As a last gesture, the service rolled out a free-to-play game, Worm Game. It’s been a sad but somewhat heartwarming journey to Stadia’s closure, as the community celebrated its games and their time playing them one last time.
Google announced Stadia’s shutdown last September, with general manager Phil Harrison saying, “It hasn’t gained the traction with users that we expected, so we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down.” The platform’s history has been brief, but rocky. Its introductory announcement described it as something that would “free players from the limitations of traditional consoles and PCs.” While Stadia will not realize those ambitions, the rest of the games industry has embraced the potential of cloud gaming. Xbox Cloud Gaming, Amazon Luna and Nvidia’s GeForce Now will continue developing the technology.
As Stadia is laid to rest, Google has seemingly gone the distance to mitigate its loss for users. It has offered refunds for purchased games and Stadia Pro subscriptions. This was particularly necessary as users generally paid full price for games on Stadia (on top of the monthly subscription). Of course, these games will no longer be accessible after today. It has also worked with game developers — including IO Interactive and Rockstar Games — to allow users to export their save files to other platforms. It’s been a strong communal effort, all things considered.
Google has also updated the Stadia controller, so that those who own one can unlock its Bluetooth mode and use it with PC and mobile devices unbound to Stadia. It’s not all happy updates, however — some exclusive games won’t be available elsewhere. Splash Damage announced in October that it won’t port its game Outcasters to another platform. Q-Games has expressed interest in porting its game PixelJunk to other platforms, but so far this has not happened.
Stadia may not have been around for long, but it was an interesting footnote in gaming history. Its fans have a few hours left to play Worm Game on the platform, which officially shuts off at 11:59 pm Pacific Time.