Gamers say goodbye to Google’s Stadia as platform shuts

Stadia controller and a Google chromecastGetty Images

Google will shut down its Stadia cloud-gaming service in the UK on Thursday, as it issues refunds to gamers.

Stadia was touted as a “Netflix for games” when it launched, in November 2019, allowing players to stream games online without a PC or console.

The service will be inaccessible after 08:00 on 19 January in the UK, with gamers telling BBC News they are “heartbroken” to see it go.

Google has promised refunds to anyone who made Stadia purchases.

That includes people who bought controllers, games or downloadable content, with Google previously estimating those refunds would be completed by mid-January.

Google has marked the closure by releasing one final Stadia game, Worm Game, which the developers used to test the service before its public release.

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It has also unveiled plans to make its Stadia controllers capable of using Bluetooth, which would allow them to be used on PCs wirelessly to play any game, even after Stadia’s closure.

Google said in September it was shutting Stadia because it “hadn’t gained the traction with users” the company had hoped.

But fans have reacted with sadness, with many pointing out some games developed exclusively to be played on Stadia could be lost forever once the service closes.

Splash Damage, a London-based developer that made multiplayer game Outcasters, said last year it had no plans to bring the game elsewhere.

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Meanwhile, Q-Games founder and chief executive Dylan Cuthbert told BBC News his team had spent two years developing Stadia exclusive PixelJunk Raiders and he wanted to make sure it was not “gone forever”.

“It’s a real shame when people can’t play a game you’ve spent years making,” he said.

“We’re hoping to talk to publishers who can help us get it on to a PC or even PS5 [PlayStation 5] or other platforms. The IP is ours, so we’re trying to find a way to do that.”

Mr Cuthbert said he was discussing how this might work with Google, which had been “forward thinking” about finding a resolution. But there is another problem.

“I’d want to rework the game a little bit as well,” he said.

“At the time when we launched it, we did have to rush it a bit at the end. I wanted to spend like a bit more time – maybe another eight months or so – reworking a few things.

“If I was going to relaunch it, I’d do that and I’d want to find a publisher who can help us do that. But there’s nothing on the books yet.”

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Jordy, 30, from Gosport, told BBC News she owned three Stadia controllers and was “heartbroken” it was closing.

“I honestly loved Stadia,” she said. “One of the things I found the best about Stadia was the fact I could game anywhere.

“I was able to play games like Destiny 2 with my partner via my iPad whilst he was playing on the PS5. The Stadia controller was the best controller I’d used. I loved it.”

But Jordy praised Google for leaving nobody out of pocket.

“The refunds enabled me to get myself a new gaming device and Ubisoft even gave me the games we already purchased, for free,” she said.

“Even the hardware was refunded, so we essentially got controllers and 4K Chromecasts for free. It is a shame that Stadia had to close but I am happy I was able to experience it.”

‘Loved it’

Dan, 30, in Kent, got his Stadia hardware on launch. It was the first time he had played any games in eight years, he told BBC News.

“I picked up the Stadia because of the ease of use,” he said. “There were no downloads, no updates to install… just when you wanted to play a game, it was there.

“I probably spent £800 or £900 on games. I recently picked up an Xbox because I needed something to replace it.”

“I honestly loved it. It brought me back to gaming.”

Some contributors asked that their surnames be withheld


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