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Stadia hurts the most out of all the products Google killed this year

To tell you the truth, I never really thought Stadia had a chance. I was first doubtful that Google would dedicate itself to something as difficult as gaming. It’s possible that my biases were colored by Google’s terrible management of the Play Store’s discovery difficulties over the last decade or the company’s total contempt for our acquired property when it discreetly erased many of our purchases during the huge GDPR removal wave in 2018. It was obvious from the beginning that Google lacked the resources to compete with the likes of Sony and Microsoft, and while the company had developed worthwhile streaming technology—especially considering that Stadia was/is one of the best-looking game streaming services available—rumors of 4K and even 8K games seemed to follow the service around until it was announced to be shutting down three years later.

Some Stadia games, including none of the few AAA titles, do reach the 4K barrier that Google was so anxious to tout at its launch. Even while Google’s experiment shows that few players are willing to pay full price for games that can only be streamed, it hardly means the pricing model helped. When the bulk of AAA developers abandoned Stadia, Google’s arrogance came back to bite it in the rear. With fewer games available, the platform’s user base began to decline, and Google eventually announced it would shut down the service. In a repeat performance, Google has sent another of its services to an untimely death, and this time there are many mourners.

The main problem I had with Stadia was the poor performance it consistently had on my home network. Maybe I’m too picky and expect flawless performance all the time, but it was unusual for a stream to remain solid enough to avoid frame drops. My broadcasts still had unstable framerates even after I did extensive troubleshooting on my end, including switching routers and spent time on the phone with my Internet service provider. At no stage did it appear that Google was at fault for offering a service that was either temporary or could not be relied upon to work as expected. To put it mildly, I was confused, and I highly doubt I was alone, given that the Stadia support forums were flooded with questions that went unanswered. Even fewer postings on fixing issues with Stadia made it to the first page of the related subreddit. As a result, dealing with this situation becomes quite irritating, as no one is able or ready to lend a hand. To be fair, though, I should note that this was just my experience; I’m sure many people never had (or, more likely, never noticed) any problems.

I’m not overjoyed, but I’m also not shocked, to learn that Google will shut down its Stadia streaming service on January 18th. From the outset, Google botched the service by making exaggerated claims about features it lacked. Some were added later, but ultimately, Google needed to pay considerably more to get Stadia off the ground, and the company was unwilling to do so, which was excruciating to watch happen over the course of the previous three years.

Google took the right decision in refunding all Stadia customers, since the fallout from failing to do so might have been catastrophic, with users losing faith in the firm and their investment in the platform. Google did the right thing by refunding everyone who participated in its failed experiment, but it’s hard not to think that this was motivated less by genuine concern for customer satisfaction than by a desire to avoid alienating the company’s remaining users.

Even while the Stadia shutdown in January will be a disappointment due to the technology’s immense potential, we can only hope that this signals the end of Google’s involvement in the gaming industry as a whole, where its half-measures and hollow promises aren’t welcome amid the already-endemic anti-consumer abuses. We must not forget the two times Google caught its Stadia teams off guard by announcing the shutdown of the service. Google is definitely not the hero of this piece. If it has to go, I hope it goes quickly.

And while it hurts to say it, if Google’s exit from gaming is a result of the lessons learnt, then Stadia’s eventual demise may have been for the best. Google clearly has no interest in gaming, as seen by the ever-expanding cemetery. Fortunately, there are several substitutes that are filling the need.