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Stadia Is Dying. Here’s What’s in Your Refund and How to Get It

It took longer than skeptics might’ve guessed, but Google Stadia is shutting down. On January 18, 2023, anyone who bought games on the streaming service will lose access to their library. To compensate people who invested in the ecosystem, Google will be giving Stadia users a full refund—quite an unprecedented move. If you bought a game on Stadia at any point since its launch, you might have questions. Here’s how it’s all going to play out.

Updated November 10, 2022: We’ve added new information about the first round of refunds.

Why Is Google Giving Refunds?

Google has a reputation for killing products. But it doesn’t always leave users completely stranded. When Google “killed” YouTube Originals, it simply stopped producing new original content, but the old content is still there. Google is “killing” Hangouts, but users are being migrated to Google Chat. In many cases, people who used Google products that die often get redirected to something new.

Stadia is different. Stadia cost money, sometimes a lot of money. The kit that included a Chromecast Ultra and a Stadia controller cost $130. Users had to pay full price for games. There was a premium subscription for 4K streaming (which also came with a collection of games over time). It’s possible to have spent a significant amount of money on Stadia over the past three years.

Shutting down the service means taking away access to all those bought-and-paid-for games, which would go a touch beyond Google's usual shutdown routine. It’s rare to see a company offer full refunds for years worth of purchases on a platform—Microsoft paying users for ebook purchases is the closest that comes to mind—but it’s not hard to imagine the outrage (and possible lawsuits) if Google did otherwise here.

What Will Be Refunded?

There are three big categories of services Stadia has charged for: hardware, game sales plus add-ons, and the Stadia Pro subscription. Only the first two will be eligible for refunds. Even then, only sales made through the Google Store or Stadia Store will qualify.

The Stadia Pro subscription included a rotation of free games you could claim (similar to Xbox and PlayStation game subscription services), but these titles won’t count toward refunds. If you paid for a game in the Stadia Store—as well as any downloadable content or add-on bundles—then those will qualify.

What If I Bought Stadia Hardware in a Store?

If you bought a Stadia controller or Stadia kit at a retail store like Best Buy, unfortunately, you’re out of luck. Google will be offering refunds only for purchases made through the Google Store. There are two physical Google Stores in New York, so if you bought Stadia controllers there, you may qualify for a refund, but every other store will not.

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You also can’t return your hardware to any physical store (including the physical Google Store locations); however, there’s also no reason to take any hardware to a physical store.

Do I Need to Return My Controllers?

Nope! You’ll get a refund on all the hardware you paid for, and you’ll get to keep the hardware. Well, probably. Google says that “most hardware purchases” will qualify for a refund, and specifically calls out the following packages:

Stadia ControllerFounders EditionPremiere EditionPlay and Watch with Google TV

If you bought these kits, you’re safe. If you bought Stadia hardware some other way (again, via the Google Store), you may get a refund.

When and How Do I Get My Refund?

Starting on November 9, Google began sending emails to users who made qualifying purchases via the Stadia store (meaning game purchases and add-ons, but not hardware, more on that below.) Google says most automatic refunds will start going out to the payment method that was used to make these purchases in the 10 to 15 days that follow.

During this time, users who made fewer than 20 purchases should get individual emails for each refund. So, if you bought three games and two DLC packs via Stadia, you should get five separate emails for each refund attempt. However, if you made more than 20 purchases, Google will wait to send one email with a summary of all refund attempts made for that account.

Hardware purchases are still up in the air. Google is still working out the process for refunding users who bought Stadia controllers and bundles through the Google Store. We’ll continue to update this article once Google provides more information on how to get the refund.

Google says its intent is to have “the majority” of refunds sent out by January 18, 2023 (the day Stadia shuts down), though most software refunds should hopefully be processed before the end of November; the process and timing may vary by country. 

What If My Payment Info Changed?

It may not feel like it, but Stadia has been out for three years. That’s plenty of time to have had to cancel a stolen credit card, migrate to a new bank, or close an old account. If you’ve had to make any big changes to your payment info since you made Stadia purchases, you might have to put in a little extra legwork to get your refund. Maybe.

According to Google’s FAQ, the company will still try to issue refunds, and some financial institutions may be able to accept them. If you got a new bank account number, for example, your bank probably still knows your old one and can recognize when a refund should go to the new one. 

However, if the automatic refund doesn’t work, you may get an email from Google, your financial institution, or both letting you know that the refund failed. Google says it will send an email with instructions on how to proceed if its automatic refund attempt fails, but you may need to contact your bank to figure out how to accept it.

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In the worst-case scenario, Google is partnering with a company called Payoneer to facilitate refunds that can’t be processed automatically. You don’t need to sign up for this service yet, but if you get an email from Google saying your refund can’t be processed, you may be asked to sign up to process the refund.

What If I Closed My Google Account?

If understandably, you decided to close the Google account you used with Stadia any time in the past few years, don’t worry. Google says it will still automatically process refunds based on the payment info you used when you initially made your purchase.

However, if you deleted your Google account and your payment info changed, it may be more complicated. In that event, Google suggests contacting Stadia customer service, prepared with the following info:

The email address of your deleted accountYour last transaction dateYour last transaction amount

Some of this information might be difficult to obtain if you closed the Google account. Email records from other accounts, or your transaction history from your financial institution will probably be your best bet to find these details.

Can I Keep Using Stadia in the Meantime?

Yes. The games you’ve purchased will continue working until January 18, 2023. If you were already a Stadia Pro subscriber as of September 29, you’ll stay a subscriber until the service shuts down and Google won’t charge for the subscription any further. This is a bittersweet bonus, but at least you won’t have to give Google any more money for a dying service. 

However, if you didn’t buy any games or pay for the subscription, then the only way to use Stadia now is with time-limited demos. Despite teasing this feature back in 2019, Google launched playable in-browser game demos only in October of 2021, and they seem to still be working for now.

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