Google’s new game-streaming service, Google Stadia, is launching in November. Unlike traditional consoles from Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, Stadia is a streaming service with no local hardware beyond the controller. This means everything happens in the cloud. Naturally, people want to know what happens if Stadia shuts down, as numerous other Google products have in the past.
During a Reddit AMA today, Stadia’s director of product, Andrey Doronichev, said this is a question that the team gets a lot. And he understands how people might be afraid to move to the cloud.
“I hear you. Moving to the cloud is scary,” he said. “I felt the same way when music was transitioning from files to streaming. I still have all my old CDs in the garage… although it’s hard to find a CD player these days :)”
Doronichev went on to say that movies, photos, and documents have all generally moved to the cloud, and that has generally gone well. The same can be true for games, he said.
“The same happened to Movies and Photos and my Docs and other files… And it’s great! Games are no different. Eventually all of our games will be safely in the cloud too and we’ll feel great about it,” Doronichev said. “We’ve been investing a ton in tech, infrastructure and partnerships over the past few years. Nothing in life is certain, but we’re committed to making Stadia a success.”
Doronichev added that Google Stadia will support the “Takeout” feature from day one. This allows players to download the metadata of their games, including game saves. However, games themselves cannot be downloaded, so if Stadia shuts down, players may not be able to access their games.
“Of course, it’s OK to doubt my words,” Doronichev said. “There’s nothing I can say now to make you believe if you don’t. But what we can do is to launch the service and continue investing in it for years to come. Exactly how we’ve been doing with gMail, Docs, Music, Movies and Photos. That’s exactly what we’re committed to.”
Concerns about game ownership and ongoing support for games is not exclusive to Stadia. The servers for older console and PC games are often shut down over time as developers shift their focus to newer titles. While physical media remains important in the gaming industry, digital is taking up a bigger piece of the pie as time goes on.
Stadia launches in November in some parts of the world, including the United States. A $10 USD/month subscription gets you access to a growing library of games. A $130 USD Stadia Founder’s Edition comes with the Google controller, a Chromecast Ultra, 3 months of Stadia Pro, a copy of Destiny 2 (and all the expansions), and other extras.
Microsoft’s game-streaming service, xCloud, is attempting to steal some of Stadia’s thunder, as the first public trials will begin in October.