Google’s Immersive Stream for Games was shut down along with Stadia
It appears that when Google closed Stadia to consumers, Google Cloud also formally ended 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 moved 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 shape in October 2021 when AT&T made Batman: Arkham Asylum available for its 5G customers to play for free using Stadia technology. The following March, this service formally debuted as Immersive Stream for Games, a new product from Google Cloud that allowed video games to be streamed through the cloud outside of the framework of a Stadia-branded app.
Immersive Stream for Games was barely 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 be pinning all its hopes on Stadia’s cloud streaming technology on the back of Immersive Stream for Games. Before the service’s official debut, it was reported that Stadia was being “de-prioritised” in favor of Immersive Stream, with Google pitching the service to the likes of Bungie and Capcom. After launch, Google tried to frame the situation so that Stadia was simply the first client of Immersive Stream, rather than the opposite relationship.
Regardless of the relationship, the success of Immersive Stream for Games had the potential to bring good news for Stadia fans. Business customers would have helped pay the costs of keeping Stadia’s consumer servers running, and any game that can run on Immersive Stream should also run on Stadia, potentially helping to expand the service’s library.
Ultimately, this didn’t work out as Google formally announced in September 2022 that Stadia would be shutting down a few months later, an event that 9to5Google thoroughly chronicled:
But in its wake, one issue that was never quite settled was the issue of Immersive Stream for Games. When Stadia’s shutdown came, neither AT&T nor Capcom offered games through Google’s service. Thanks to new reporting from Stephen Totilo of Axioswe now know exactly what became of Immersive Stream for Games.
In a quote from Google’s Jack Buser – former Stadia director of games – it is revealed that Immersive Stream for Games was intricately tied to Stadia. So when the consumer side of Stadia shut down, so did the business side of Google’s cloud streaming services.
We don’t offer that streaming option, because it was tied to Stadia itself. So, unfortunately, when we decided not to go forward with Stadia, that sort of thing [business-to-business] offers could no longer be offered as well.
– Jack Buser, Director of Gaming Industry Solutions, Google Cloud
Frankly, 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 holding 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 advantage over other services with features such as surround sound, HDR and 4K resolution. Cloud gaming competitors like GeForce Now have finally caught up and surpassed Stadia in these respects, but most others, Xbox Game Pass included, are still catching up to what Google managed to do in 2019.
The uncertain fate of Immersive Stream for Games left room for a glimmer of hope that the incredible engineering that went into Google Stadia would be preserved for use by a future generation of cloud gaming services. Now we know for sure that Stadia
Notably, the report does not mention Google Cloud’s similarly named “Immersive Stream for XR” technology, which allows high-quality AR and VR experiences to be streamed to devices. This service formally launched over a month after Stadia’s official shutdown date and was therefore not affected.
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