[BLOG] “Hey Google, can you cancel Stadia for me?”

Cancel culture. It’s all around us. Said something controversial? Canceled. Are you making a Batgirl series? Canceled. Is your live service game not really living up to its expectation? Canceled. There’s been so much canceling going around that it’s becoming part of the internet algorithm. And who’s good at keeping up with algorithms? Exactly. Maybe that’s why Google has decided to cancel Stadia early next year.

Or maybe the reason is much simpler. Google Stadia, once deemed a gateway into the era of cloud gaming, just isn’t something people are ready for. I mean, cloud gaming is a nice addition to services like Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus. But to have a service solely dedicated to this technology, forcing players to rely on your tech to play a game… that’s different.

Personally, I think we’re still trying to process previous changes in game distribution. I know I am. Granted, I’m an ’80s kid. I grew up buying game cartridges and not having to worry about online activation. Just pop ‘er in and play. Even decades later I can still connect my Super Nintendo and play Super Mario Allstars without scrolling through twenty pages, just to press “I agree” and start playing.

But hey, we’re in the twenty-first century now and digital game purchases are currently the standard. We now buy a code for a game we’re allowed to play as long as the servers stay online. And even that rears its ugly face from time to time, as recently shown by Babylon’s Fall. So basically, we’re no longer owners of the game we buy. We’re merely buying a license to play until that license expires. And that can happen at any time.

So, coming back to Stadia and its cloud gaming tech. Like me, people might still be adjusting to the digitalization of game distribution. We’ve been hit with some serious setbacks. Hell, I’m still pissed at Activision for leaving me with Guitar Hero Live peripherals that are worth shit now. So if you want to grow an audience that trusts you completely when it comes to distribution and long-term playability, you have to prove yourself. And I’m afraid that Google couldn’t really persuade their target audience to pay monthly fees to play games that can vanish without notice.

And it’s not like Google hasn’t gotten any support from third parties, something Nvidia’s Geforce Now had issues with. There were plenty of publishers that were putting money on Google’s potential goose with the golden eggs. Ubisoft, IO Interactive, Bungie, to name a few, were all on board. They’re also the ones trying to salvage Stadia so that players won’t lose all their stuff on January 18, 2023. So yeah, I guess that’s our silver lining in this cancelation. And Google… fortunately they’re not making the Guitar Hero Live mistake by leaving us with useless hardware and no money. Players who’ve bought games, add-ons, and hardware through the Google Store will get full refunds, according to Stadia’s general manager Phil Harrison.

Yeah, I have to give Google props for trying though. Pioneering in new tech is always tricky and a good pedigree doesn’t bring any guarantees. I mean, Valve might knock it out of the park with Steam Deck, but they’ve had their setbacks with the Steam Machine. And remember the Ouya? That didn’t really go down smoothly either, now did it? Heck, even the mighty PlayStation totally swung and missed a few times in the league of handhelds. Speaking of which, with Stadia biting the dust, does Logitech still believe that its cloud-based handheld will emerge victorious? Only time will tell.

Rest in peace, Google Stadia. At least you tried. And it’s not like all that hard work has gone to waste. YouTube, Google Play, and your Augmented Reality (AR) efforts can still benefit from your tech. And hey, maybe there will come a time when we’ll look back at Stadia, remembering it for paving the way to cloud gaming. You know, the time when the world has proper WiFi across the globe since that’s pretty mandatory for a decent cloud gaming experience.

“Hey Google, play ‘Time To Say Goodbye’ by Sarah Brightman while I stare at your obituary”.

Google Stadia Obituary