Google Pulls the Plug on Exciting Cloud Gaming Service

Cloud gaming is gaining traction amongst gamers of all generations. Unfortunately, it is not gaining traction for Google Stadia, it seems. Cloud gaming offers gamers the chance to access major titles through a streaming service, allowing them to streamline their gaming experience and access titles without leaving the house. The gaming innovations caught the eye of Google.   

Key Takeaways: Cloud Gaming  

  • Cloud gaming is growing in popularity, especially with established gaming brands 
  • Cloud gaming history goes back to the early 2000s but was established in 2010
  • Google Stadia was competing with major brands like Xbox, Playstation, and PC
  • Google Stadia failed due to a lack of uptake and not due to technological failures
  • Google was competing with major players in the field, like Xbox and Playstation 
  • Google Stadia technology was tested at scale and proved reliable and effective 
  • Google seems to maintain a future interest in cloud gaming and console services  

Cloud Gaming Services 

Traditionally, gaming requires a high-end graphics card and processor, which comes installed in the console you unwrap at Christmas. Naturally, there are Playstation people, Xbox people, PC people, and everything in between, but branded gaming like this means people don’t have ready access to a number of exciting titles released on other platforms – or they have many machines.

Cloud gaming offers an alternative. What if gamers could have a Netflix-style gaming service that allowed them to cherry-pick the most appealing titles from a library and play them effectively on any screen using their favorite controller? This is possible with cloud gaming that uses dedicated servers to deliver a high-end gaming service using a subscription and not a console. 

History of Cloud Gaming 

For cloud gaming to work, a specially optimized server is required. Not only that, gamers need to have a fast and reliable internet connection. That’s why cloud gaming history only extends to 2010 instead of the early 2000s when the idea was first conceived. Interestingly, the original idea for cloud gaming – using a server and controller – is essentially the same as Google Stadia. 

OnLive was the first cloud gaming service launched in June 2010 using a micro-console and special controller. The service was also supported on Windows and MacOS and offered many popular console titles of the time. At the same time, another service was launched called Gaikai, which was bought by Playstation in 2012 and incorporated into their consoles and network.     

Cloud Gaming Frontrunners 

When it comes to cloud gaming services, there are several companies at the forefront of innovation – until recently, google was one of them. Cloud gaming front runners include GeForce Now, Xbox Cloud Gaming, and PlayStation Plus. Until Google pulled the plug on Google Stadia earlier this year, it was also part of the cloud gaming revolution and an excellent option for PC.  

GeForce Now is a popular cloud gaming platform that offers gamers the chance to stream games they have on their network – this is different from Google Stadia, which was effectively a gaming console in the cloud. Xbox also has a popular version of cloud gaming called Xbox Game pass Ultimate, which launched in 2020. However, this version of cloud gaming is limited.  

Google’s Stadia Service 

Google Stadia was billed as the Netflix of games allowing users to download and stream major titles on their screens and mobile devices using a special controller. In order to facilitate a streamlined gaming experience, Google had dedicated servers set up for gaming. Google Stadia operated on a subscription service model giving gamers more choices and better value. 

However, this existing and innovative idea was abandoned, and the service was shut down in September 2022. Since the beginning of 2023, Google has refunded all users for purchased hardware, in-game purchases, and subscriptions. So where did it all go wrong? The answer is less technical and more cultural. In short, the service didn’t gain enough traction with gamers. 

Although Google Stadia was built on excellent foundations, the technology and service were both soundly realized – they were competing with some stiff competition in the market for cloud gaming. Perhaps branded consoles were powerful after all because Google Stadia failed to gain an advantage over Xbox Cloud Gaming, Nvidia Geforce Now, and Playstation Plus in 2 years.

Google Stadia was in the cloud gaming market for 2 years, offering a Netflix-style on-demand gaming service that could be downloaded from the Google Play website. The technology was strong and included a Google controller that connected directly to the internet instead of the console. Unfortunately for Google, there was not enough uptake in the service to continue it.   

Google’s Gaming Future 

As of early 2023, Google has issued refunds for the controllers, in-game purchases, and subscriptions, but there are some subscriptions that were not refunded, such as Stadia Pro fees. On the face of it, Google Stadia has been a calculated failure, but there are many positives to take from the venture. Google Stadia technology has proved viable and is tested at scale.  

While Google doesn’t have plans to re-enter the cloud gaming domain again anytime soon, there are several third-party publishers interested in the Google stadia technology. For that reason, we can expect to see more cloud gaming brands emerging in the future with new innovations to break the market. The technology will also be used across Google platforms. 

It seems that Google’s cloud gaming venture was a commercial failure but not a technological one. The infrastructure for Google Stadia was tested at scale, proving reliable and effective. 

Google is no stranger to profitable infrastructure, using several outsourcing companies to support services and methodology for calculating overtime, and Google Stadia is no exception.


There must have been plenty of people disappointed to hear about Google’s decision to pull the plug on its cloud gaming service, Google Stadia, especially those holding a Google controller at the time. Unfortunately for them and for Google, the Stadia adventure was not commercially viable and had to be shelved. But keep an eye on Google; they still harbor gaming ambitions.  

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