Google Stadia has been marked for death, and as part of the four-month shutdown process, Google has thankfully promised full refunds for any games or hardware purchased from the moribund service. An updated FAQ on Google’s support site now explains how this process will work. Google says refunds began yesterday, November 9, and the company expects “the majority of refunds” to be complete by Stadia’s shutdown date, which is January 18, 2023.
Google will refund almost everything except the monthly “Stadia Pro” service fee. Here is the full refund description:
We will offer refunds for all Stadia hardware purchases (Stadia Controller, Founder’s Edition, Premiere Edition, and Play and Watch with Google TV packages) made through the Google Store and software transactions (games and add-on purchases) made through the Stadia Store . Stadia Pro subscriptions are not eligible for refunds, but you will be able to continue playing your games in Pro at no additional cost until the final end date.
Reimbursing three years of purchases in more than 20 countries will be a complicated logistical problem. People are moving and changing banks and credit cards, and some people are even deleting their Google Account. Tracking down everyone who has already purchased Stadia will be difficult. The first step, however, is simple: Google will “attempt to automatically refund each transaction to the payment method used to make the purchase.”
If that doesn’t work, you’ll receive an email to the Google account used to make the purchase with instructions on how to set up another refund method through a partner company called “Payoneer”. Whether this not working, probably because you deleted your Google account, Google encourages customers to “please contact Stadia customer service and be prepared to provide the email of the deleted account, the date of your last transaction and the amount of your last transaction”.
It seems expensive
Unsuccessful services generally have a negative impact on a company’s balance sheet, but shutting down Stadia seems particularly costly. In addition to paying rejected stakeholders, Google will end up with stacks of single-use hardware that no longer have a clear use.
The company reimburses customers for games purchased, but it still has to pay developers for those game sales, so it loses both ways. Stadia’s abrupt shutdown has left partner developers hanging with half-completed ports and unsatisfied contacts, and some developers have signaled that Google is ready to cut deals to fix things.
Stadia also involved developing a custom Wi-Fi controller, and Google is also refunding those purchases. Besides wasting all the time and money invested in developing them, the company will now have to do something with the piles of unsold, now nearly useless controllers. Stadia basically lets you rent remote access to a mid-range gaming PC, and since Google’s normal hardware stack isn’t suited for PC gaming, the company had to invest in a bunch of server hardware. customized specifically for Stadia. Google will now try to salvage that hardware by selling what’s left of Stadia as a Google Cloud service called “Immersive Stream for Games.”
As for this one-time-use hardware, a campaign is underway for Google to unlock the Stadia controller so it can be a general-purpose Bluetooth controller. Google hasn’t commented on this idea yet, but the FAQ notes that if you don’t mind going back 20 years, you can still use the controller with a wire. That’s not ideal, and given that the controller is already Bluetooth-enabled, it would be nice if Google fixed the generic wireless support to reduce e-waste.
“We ask for your patience as we work through each transaction and ask that you refrain from contacting customer service as they will not be able to expedite your refund during this time,” Google said.
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