It seems that when Google shut down Stadia for consumers, Google Cloud also formally discontinued its B2B offering, “Immersive Stream for Games.”
In 2021, Google made a sharp pivot with Stadia, shutting down the Stadia Games and Entertainment division that was responsible for developing first- and second-party games for the platform. With that, the platform shifted firmly away from focusing on exclusive titles. Instead, at the time, Google emphasized a new focus on making Stadia’s technology available to other companies through “business partnerships.”
This new emphasis took form in October 2021 when AT&T made Batman: Arkham Asylum available for its 5G customers to play for free, using Stadia tech. The following March, this service formally debuted as Immersive Stream for Games, a new product of Google Cloud that allowed video games to be streamed through the cloud outside of the confines of a Stadia-branded app.
Immersive Stream for Games was scarcely used by companies, at least in public settings, with the only other example being a streaming demo of Resident Evil Village provided by Capcom.
However, Google seemed to place all of its hopes for Stadia’s cloud streaming tech on the back of Immersive Stream for Games. Before the service’s official debut, it was reported that Stadia was being “deprioritized” in favor of Immersive Stream, with Google pitching the service to the likes of Bungie and Capcom. After the launch, Google tried to frame the situation as Stadia simply being the first client of Immersive Stream, rather than the opposite relationship.
No matter the relationship, the success of Immersive Stream for Games had the potential to spell good news for Stadia fans. Business customers would have helped pay the costs of keeping the consumer Stadia servers running, and any game that could run on Immersive Stream should also run on Stadia proper, potentially helping to expand the service’s library.
Ultimately this didn’t work out as, in September 2022, Google formally announced that Stadia would be shutting down a few months later, an event that 9to5Google chronicled thoroughly:
- Google’s Phil Harrison told employees of Stadia’s shutdown minutes before the public
- Searching for Stadia: Remembering what was lost
- Google Stadia has officially shut down
- This is what the death of Google Stadia actually looked like [Video]
- Comment: Playing on Stadia during its final hours was a reminder of its best, and its worst
But in the wake of that, one issue that was never quite settled was the matter of Immersive Stream for Games. By the time Stadia’s shutdown arrived, neither AT&T nor Capcom were offering games via Google’s service. Thanks to new reporting from Stephen Totilo of Axios, we now know exactly what became of Immersive Stream for Games.
In a quote from Google’s Jack Buser – former Stadia Director of Games – it’s revealed that Immersive Stream for Games was intricately tied to Stadia. So when the consumer side of Stadia shut down, so too did the business side of Google’s cloud streaming services.
We are not offering that streaming option, because it was tied to Stadia itself. So, unfortunately, when we decided to not move forward with Stadia, that sort of [business-to-business] offering could no longer be offered as well.
– Jack Buser, Director of Game Industry Solutions, Google Cloud
In all honesty, as a former Stadia player and a fan of cloud gaming in general, this is incredibly disappointing news. While Stadia had quite a few flaws that held it back – between a rough early launch and a business model that couldn’t compete with Xbox Game Pass – one thing that couldn’t be argued was its incredible streaming quality and low latency.
For years, Stadia had the edge over other services with features like surround sound, HDR, and 4K resolution. Cloud gaming competitors like GeForce Now have finally caught up and exceeded Stadia in these regards, but most others, Xbox Game Pass included, are still catching up with what Google managed to do in 2019.
The unresolved fate of Immersive Stream for Games left room for a glimmer of hope that the incredible engineering work that went into Google Stadia would be preserved for use by a future generation of cloud gaming services. Now we know for certain that Stadia’s
Notably, the report does not make mention of Google Cloud’s similarly named “Immersive Stream for XR” tech, which allows high-quality AR and VR experiences to be streamed to devices. That service formally launched over a month after Stadia’s official shutdown date and was therefore not impacted.
More on cloud gaming:
- Razer Edge 5G Review: Who needs an Android gaming handheld?
- Google Stadia had less than 10% market share among cloud gaming services
- Searching for Stadia: Xbox Game Pass is cloud gaming’s best hope
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