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While inevitable, I am impressed they are refunding all purchases, including hardware. That can't be cheap.



I think it begins to address mistrust of new Google products. Which is worth a lot to Google.

If they consistently take this approach for other cancellations, it could change the the common view from:

"why use this? They're just going to shut it down in a few years anyway"

to:

"oh neat, Google's experimenting with something new. Let me try it out. If it doesn't work out, they'll take care of me."


Yeah, if I had known this would be how they would have handled a hypothetical shutdown, I would have very happily used the service. Instead I signed up for GeForce Now since I can buy games through Steam and play them there. The main thing that stopped me from going with Stadia instead was that I was pretty confident that at some point it would shut down and I'd lose access to $xxx worth of games. If they had promised up front to do this in case of failure, maybe it wouldn't have failed.


How is GeForce Now with Steam? I have a Steam link but find it to be a pain in the rear. It's also difficult / clumsy to use for non Steam games. Does GeForce Now solve this or is it just ... different?


GeForce Now gives you a Windows box with Steam on it, and you log into your Steam account on it. They pair it with a super fast cache of the Steam Depot so your first install is speedy. That way, there's no integration necessary, and Nvidia doesn't have to reinvent the achievement/launcher/licensing wheel.


It's probably just different. I don't know what the Steam Link is like. GFN streams the games from a datacenter, so the quality will depend on the quality of your internet connection. Also, GFN can't play all Steam games; publishers have to agree to allow their games to be played on GFN, and several major publishers don't agree (eg Bethesda, Rockstar). All that said, I'm happy with it. Usually I can't tell at all that it's being streamed, and it's cool to be able to max out every single graphics setting without thinking about it.


> publishers have to agree to allow their games to be played on GFN

Hrm. I have an "eclectic" mix of native Steam games, non-Steam games (added to my Steam library) and some emulators. I can't imagine those will be available, thanks for this info.

>it's cool to be able to max out every single graphics setting without thinking about it.

I certainly like this.

Do you use it with your TV? Do you need a Shield too for the controller?


If you have an Nvidia graphics card that supports game streaming, install Moonlight on the steam link and look up how to stream the entire desktop using Moonlight.

It works perfectly for non Steam games and usually works better for Steam games as well.

I would recommend a wireless keyboard and mouse to launch the games or if you just want to use a controller to launch your games the Playnight launcher.


I'm a Stadia user, and Google's handling of the shutdown of Google Play Music is what gave me confidence to purchase anything on Stadia (~$500 on a quick review). I actually thought we'd be sent personal links of our games, which would live-on in Google's white-list stadia product called Google Stream - they did something similar for GPM which merged into Youtube Music. I'm fine with a refund though.


Most Google products are free. That's the difference.


Free at time-of-service (and as mentioned, of course you're paying with your privacy anyway) doesn't mean there's not very real costs to the customer if the service goes away though.

Most people's lives would be turned upside down if, say, gmail closed down. It would take dozens of hours just to migrate away the accounts that I care most about. Even though it's "free" I don't want to build my life around shifting sands like that.

Gmail of course is a key service to google that will never be shut down, but I'm starting to get nervous about having my life built around Google Voice. That one doesn't seem nearly as solid and again, it's going to be a major undertaking to migrate all my 2fa/recovery. I'm planning on doing it during my next phone upgrade... I'll put the phone on a second line for a month, transfer my google voice number to it, then migrate all my legacy 2fa/recovery (that wouldn't accept google voice as a cell number) from the underlying phone line to the google voice number (now with AT&T). Huge pain in the ass and would be really tough without a second line to handle that switchover, but I'm not 100% (or even 75%) sure that Google Voice is going to be here in another 5 years when I upgrade next.

So like, who gives a shit that it was "free" (apart from my privacy)? I am having to shape my whole life around migrating off this google service, it's a massive pain in the ass and will cost a decent amount (a couple extra months of service on a second line) even to migrate off "the cheap way" in a planned fashion, if tomorrow they said "oops lol it closes in 30 days" I'd be buying a burner or upgrading off-cycle just to get things migrated. The obvious takeaway as a consumer is "don't let these google services get too entrenched in your life", let alone as a business.


They are not free. You are paying with your privacy.


No, they really are free.


Not free at all. You invest your personal capital (trust) into their products. Then it'll be degraded and shut down just like that.


You invest with your personal data they sell to data brokers, and use to improve their ML models.

Can we get those back, Google? Not just our data, but the profits and improvements you made from it?

"Free" in the age of adtech comes at a high price. The sad part is most people don't care they're getting the short end of the stick.


This is the exact reason that I don’t mind purchasing Amazon’s experiments. If it doesn’t work out, I get my money back and Amazon has more data for product dev


I'm really curious the calculation here. That's a lot of money, and I'm certainly glad they're doing it, but feels both out of character for Google, and I'm surprised they have the budget allocated to just "doing the right thing". What goodwill is this saving that they aren't burning by shutting down Stadia?


I think it saves a ton of goodwill. Yes, you’re taking a platform from people, but it’s much better to not take their money too. Nobody is losing their livelihood, it’s a gaming service that can easily be replaced.


Does it though? It doesn't seem to be in keeping with how the rest of Google functions with their general lack of care, customer service, or recourse on anything. It also don't paper over the fact that they killed a service that, just 3 months ago they said wasn't being shut down.

If there was some new Google paid service that I cared about coming out, I'd still be hesitant that this refund is some sort of fluke and not a standard practice, and avoid giving Google money for something they're likely to kill in a couple years.


I'm hesitant to claim exceptionalism, but history supports the claim that gamers are (a) quick to claim umbrage, (b) VERY vocal on social media, (c) have a LOT of free time to shitpost, (d) have long memories, and (e) are a younger demographic (aka future consumers).

Maybe that was communicated to Google leadership and "Let's pay to prevent everyone from hating us" was the cheaper option.


Perhaps, but I wonder if that class of gamers you're talking about is the target/actual audience for Stadia. The folks I knew who had/used Stadia were a lot more casual and non-traditional gamers, since why would you pay for an online streaming game service when you already own consoles or a robust PC?

It's not like Google has a good rep in that community already, given how much pretty much everyone on Youtube, and especially in its gaming community, complains about YT constantly. There's a reason most gaming folks are on Twitch more than Youtube and have to be bribed massively to move over to YT.


A lot of gamers are the sort of people that flame a developer of a bad game they never even bought/played in the first place. Attacking corporations is itself a sort of game they enjoy, having a personal stake in the fight isn't necessary for them.

On that note, some commentary from /v/:

    >even the shut down lagged by months


Sure, but what I'm saying is that "lot of gamers" in my experience is the type to flame Stadia without playing or buying it anyway. I highly doubt the overlap of the population of /v/ and Stadia owners was that large, but maybe I'm wrong.


>why would you pay for an online streaming game service when you already own consoles or a robust PC?

Lots of reasons come to mind, but the biggest ones for me were portability (playing my games at max settings while traveling, at friends' houses, at work, at coffee shops, etc), the ability to play on whatever device I wanted (usually laptop or TV depending on the game when at home, but I also played a lot on phone/tablet while travelling), and to a lesser extent some smaller perks like using less battery life / hard drive space / time updating / etc than the native alternative.

In other words, if I have the choice between playing the same game on my desktop (strictly in my office) or on the couch (or wherever else I want to be), I'm always going to pick the latter.


If this is for goodwill, they have to start somewhere.

Google hasn’t remained the same company through its history. Like when that CFO came in and reduced moonshot projects and maybe general expenses a lot. Which was a radical departure from their past.

Maybe Google is realizing they can’t keep being this cold company forever.

Or! Just like you I agree this one time doesn’t get me to trust Google not shutting things down with no recourse. It would have to be done a few more times.


I don’t disagree with that, but I think it’s somewhat orthogonal. If you pay people back, the general reception is now “eh, assumed this was going to happen. Glad I’m not out hundreds of dollars.” compared to fire and pitchforks if there’s no refunds. Google already has the rep for shutting things down. This doesn’t really move the needle besides showing that they will at least financially compensate your loss.


1. Gamers are particularly vindictive

2. Highest probability of any product shutdown of this exploding "don't even bother, Google will just shut it down in a few years" into broad public consciousness

3. It's an enormous market and they know they'll want to try again

4. Maybe it's relatively not that much money. I would be surprised if I knew more than one or two people who'd ever even heard of Stadia


It's not out of character. They did exactly the same thing for "Google Offers," the old Groupon competitor from a decade ago. They refunded ALL of the purchased deals, even the ones that had been redeemed.


Dang, Groupon is a name I haven't heard in a while. I just looked and they're still going somehow?

IPOed at $522.20, now down to $8.76. Took $1.4b in investment, now worth $265m.


12 years ago, Google offered to buy Groupon for $6 billion and Groupon declined. Those were the second and first dumbest business decisions I've ever heard of, respectively.


lol, surely.


Perhaps it isn't that much money...


But if it wasn't that much money, then it wasn't that many people who would be upset about not getting a refund, which for a company with the cashflow that Google has feels like not worth not pissing off.


Those "not that many people" would have been very angry and very vocal though.


Ok.


People were extremely cautious about stadia from day 1 because while Google may be the single most capable company of actually making cloud gaming workable, this specific product required a lot of money input that had a fairly good chance of being completely wiped out based on Google's track record.

With this, next time there's a product that has a similar risk to the consumer, people will be saying "yeah it might get shut down, but look at what they did with stadia"


I guess they're keeping the subscription fees for those who subscribed, not sure what percent of their revenue that would have been. All in all the total sales are probably paltry relative to the investment they've made in it (though surely they'll find other uses for the servers and tech), so it's not a big sacrifice to give that back to avoid anger and lawsuits


I dunno, Google has never really seemed to care about consumer anger and lawsuits. Like I said, it's a welcome change, and I'll be happy if they keep up this new pro-consumer attitude, but this feels a lot more like a weird one-off than a new policy or commitment.


The simple answer is that it's legal hedging. They don't want anything related to this closure of Stadia to lead to a lawsuit that might impact the concept of software licensing, particularly in the EU. This is a move out of pure self-interest (not that I see anything particularly wrong with that).


>That can't be cheap.

Yeah, seriously.

I bought Cyberpunk 2077 on Stadia when it released. It was 60€ new, but there was a 10€ discount available at the time. I believe it was if you had never purchased anything on Stadia before. So, only 50€ for Cyberpunk 2077 on Stadia.

Then everyone who ordered Cyberpunk 2077 on Stadia could also get the Stadia Premiere Edition for free (retailed "normally" for 99€), which includes the Stadia Controller and a Chromecast Ultra (alone worth about 50€).

I actually sold my Chromecast Ultra for about 40€ shortly after I got it since I didn't really need it, which brought my purchase of Cyberpunk 2077 down to 10€ with a free USB controller on the side.

And now I'm getting a 50€ refund?


I’m surprised, but I’m also glad they are doing this. It could be to avoid class action lawsuits. I used mine for a total of 5 minutes before throwing it in trash. It is a very unfinished product they shipped thinking they’ll solve it. But the reality is, even with the best internet in the country, the games were barely playable. I’m talking 600mbps download and a 100mbps upload speed.


I've used Stadia for the past year exclusively and it's been fine 99% of the time. I guess I'm relieved from defending Stadia duty now though, sigh


The problem with such statements is that game streaming services are INSANELY dependent on literally a century of cruft and how it was handled on a house to house basis. You can have great performance in your house, but your neighbor across the street could have utterly useless behavior.

Like this product literally depends on which godawful modem your ISP sent you when you first got service.


Speed alone isn't what matters here - latency and jitter are more important. A 100Mbps speed test over 30 seconds is meaningless.

I've played multiplayer FPS games on a home-made setup with an AWS VM with GPU and Steam streaming (using a VPN to make both machines appear to be on the same LAN so Steam streaming would work).

This worked well, but only because it was on an enterprise-grade leased line with consistent 1ms latency to the AWS datacenter, and all wired (good wireless gear might've worked too, but forget about trying that on garbage consumer-grade hardware like your typical router or mesh Wi-Fi setup).

Is it technically possible? Yes and it works well under optimal conditions.

Is it possible for the average user who doesn't have good equipment nor the budget for it? No chance - it's a recipe for disaster. Those who do have the budget are better served by just buying a gaming machine and running the games locally.

Games streaming can be a value-add to a good ISP (such as Google Fiber) whose network actually permits this, but don't expect it to work on the majority of residential connections. The vast majority of them suck (whether because of the ISP's network or the customer-premises equipment), people don't know they suck and have no easy tools to test that, so they'll end up blaming the game streaming provider when it inevitably doesn't live up to expectations.

Until good networking setups become commonplace, game streaming will remain limited to a very small niche that have serious networking setups but for some reason don’t have a local gaming machine.


Game streaming is great for casual gamers. A lot of games are perfectly playable even with 200ms tacked on, actually.

It's unacceptable even with a 1ms link (because of the extra 2-3 frames of latency that get buffered in) for hardcore players in some genres. Even if they can't see the difference, they'll feel it when they miss shots in FPS games and links/confirms/parries in fighting games

Unfortunately, most of the people here and in the industry making these streaming products are adults with real lives who don't understand how bad game streaming is for hardcore players


200ms?? it's really frustrating in my experience for every game (I had 180ms when Xbox Cloud Gaming connects server over pacific ocean for unknown reason).


Yeah, a lot of people play games with their TV not in game mode, which is a ticket straight to +300ms City

Not only that, but a lot of AAA games nowadays have super long animations, tons of post-processing slapped on the tail end of the rendering engine, etc, so you end up with 300+ ms from "button pressed" to "something happens"


I suspect most of those games played on TVs would be running on consoles which are much more forgiving as their games are optimised for that use-case and there’s built-in assistance for inputs (aiming with controllers is much more difficult without it).

My understanding is that Stadia and most other game streaming providers run PC games which are developed with the assumption of precise mouse/keyboard inputs where there’s no assistance.


Anytime I see an asymmetric upload bandwidth like 600/100, I assume the ISP is just advertising temporary burst speeds and does not actually allocate enough upload bandwidth to the neighborhood for people to sustain usage at 100Mbps.


Upload bandwidth for something like Stadia is tiny. Only thing you need to send are user inputs


However, you need consistent latency, which isn't guaranteed in a highly-oversubscribed network.


It actually just means they're using DOCSIS to carry the signal, which has asymmetric bandwidth allocations for upstream and downstream. 600/100 is a standardized allocation too.


In practice, it is always a heavily oversubscribed network that never delivers sustained bandwidth for either up or down.

Contrast to whenever I have used a symmetric fiber connection that advertises 1Gbps/1Gbps, I can actually sustain close to both of those and at sub 5ms latency. Whatever the theoretical promise is, I assume non fiber non symmetric connections are simply low quality (in the USA).


You could make the same argument regarding upload speeds. They simply have asymmetrical link, and overprovision on both download and upload.


I assume you mean same argument regarding download. In my experience, the download is always far less over-provisioned than the upload.

For example, Comcast over-provisions their upload so much they cannot even advertise what it is. They will sell you 2Gbps download and never tell you the upload. Which I assume, based on experience, is 20Mbps split over a neighborhood of 500 houses.


Bandwidth isn't that important with game streaming after ~40-70 Mbps, latency and jitter (essentially latency consistency) is.


Consumer-grade Wi-Fi is also a major problem when it comes to latency & jitter. It doesn't even have to be game streaming, any real-time application such as calls suffer from it as well, despite not actually requiring much bandwidth at all.

Unfortunately there is no user-friendly tool to test for this. Most tests focus purely on speed, which can be tricked by various packet-loss-compensation algorithms, so you can score a "perfect" 1Gbps speedtest despite the connection cutting completely for a second.


speedtest.net used to have a sibling "pingtest" site that measured your jitter. I'm not sure why they don't exist anymore.


I remember it using a Java applet. I think the reason none of the online test sites support it is because it’s hard to test latency & jitter in the browser as the lower layers try hard to compensate for it.


Oh. It was Flash.

Sometimes I forget that was ever a thing!


Speedtest for random server (servers listed on Ookla is quite random) is useful but ping for random server is a bit useless. Just ping for targeted server that runs service you use.


I'm somewhat surprised the 4 sibling comments as of this writing don't even mention the latency/jitter issue-- to me, that's always been one of the obvious biggest flaws with game streaming. Your average consumer has little to no awareness of it, it's beyond Google's control, and it has a very noticeable impact to anyone experiencing it. Not a good combination.

Edit: Nextgrid showed up as I was typing this and set the record straight. My faith in HN is restored.


It would be great if they could somehow open up the API of the controllers, they are nice.


I'd be shocked if their contracts/EULA wasn't structured to avoid risk of suit around something like this. Shutting down a live service feels pretty defensible as not a crime or tort, and they could almost definitely fight the lawsuit for less than this costs in refunds, which makes it all the weirder.


It's the most likely reason. We've seen plenty of cases were EULAs were declared void and that won't hold in a place like the EU. You can't sign away your rights as consumers here. They might be able to fight individual lawsuits in some places, but it might eventually escalate into an investigation by the EU. There's significant legal risk there that is being avoided by just refunding a few millions. It's the sensible move.


Honest curiosity, has that actually been proven in EU court? The sort of "licensing as a service" that Stadia did doesn't seem that different from the business models of something like Audible, or even iTunes in the DRM era. I totally agree that it's a predatory and anti-consumer model, but I wasn't aware that anywhere in the EU had successfully argued that removing access to something you were essentially "renting" access to was a violation of consumer protection laws.

These sorts of EULA arrangements are essentially the foundation of almost all modern media consumption - if anything Stadia is on better ground than most since it's not just a DRM layer like Steam or iTunes. If Steam disappears, I have a bunch of entirely playable game files on my computer that I can't use. When Stadia shuts down, you have a client for nothing. You're not paying $60 to own a copy of a game, you're paying $60 for an unlimited term license to play the game on Stadia's servers. Legally, it feels odd to claim in court that that should be the same as a purchase of the game in some other method. If Google had turned off Stadia, but transferred everyone's purchases to Steam or EGS, that wouldn't be providing the same service you purchased from Stadia.


It's also just a good marketing move. "they made people pay full-price for games and deleted them shortly after" is the kind of association that sticks around and even Google has an interest to avoid.


The Ars Technica article about this notes a few caveats:

- They are not refunding the 'pro' subscription charges

- They are not refunding hardware purchases made from 3rd parties

The first is a bit sus, the second does make sense unfortunately.

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2022/09/google-stadia-offici...


If you actually get access for the term of the subscription you paid for, I don't see an issue with not refunding subscription fees.


Does anyone have sales numbers on hardware and software?

If the actual sales were low (and that's part of why they shut down) then it might actually be (relatively) cheap, and perhaps buy them goodwill towards their next experiment. Maybe next time more people will try it, with the hopes that if it fails, they'll get refunds. And maybe it'll build momentum for them.


Not quite hardware/software sales, but a lot of people pegged Stadia somewhere between 2-3 million users around the beginning of the year. It's also unclear how many of those break down into recurring Pro subscribers versus bought-a-game-once-and-play-it-now users.

Here's one that showed their work: https://allstadia.com/how-many-users-does-google-stadia-have


Kudos to Google for doing right by their customers without being prompted. They could’ve said “$5 off a Nest Thermostat” or some crap and instead they manned up.


It's a remarkable decision to refund! I'm assuming all the game developers are keeping their revenue from Stadia gameplay, so it's a meaningful net loss for Google overall. Maybe not that much though; I hope someone publishes an accounting.


I deleted my Stadia account a few months ago, and it had $400 in purchases. I assume that I won’t be getting the refund. Oh well, RIP.


Their 7 customers will be relieved.


My main computer is a MacBook 2103 running Linux. Stadia was my only way to play games. I’m kinda mad I’m losing my save progress on some games.

Ironically I will probably use my refund to buy a steam deck.


There’s still a bunch of alternatives.

XCloud and GeForce Now are the two that come to mind. There are others.


Maybe it is cheap. Any idea how many units they sold?


I think hardware was a loss-leader anyway. They were generously giving them out for free. Games are probably the biggest loss for them as a majority of that money was handed off to publishers.


Not a lot, they were giving away Stadia Premiere kits (a controller and a Chromecast Ultra) a lot (I got 2 free ones, IIRC one from YouTube Premium and the other i don't recall), and all were manufactured in 2019. Which means they drastically overestimate how many people would buy their hardware.


Probably the cost is small compared to their development budget.


Exactly. That one guy must be thrilled.


Yes, i am :)


It's probably cheaper than the lawsuits.




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