Stadians woke up to an odd surprise yesterday when they started noticing that their Google Play Store points balance had a negative symbol next to it. Unfortunately, this is no mistake, but rather an unfortunate side effect of the Stadia Refund process as Google shutters its cloud gaming platform.
Users across Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook have shown screenshots of hundreds and in some cases, thousands of negative point balances as their banks fill with the money they spent on cloud games and hardware over the past few years.
Naturally, the more money you’ve spent on Stadia since it launched, the more you’re getting in return, and of course, the higher your negative balance will be. Google is actively looking into the issue, but it’s crazy that it’s even occurring. The team is running on a skeleton crew right about now, and have even outsourced its refund process to another company, but an oversight like this just adds salt to the wound.
While it makes sense that any points received by purchasing games via Play Store Credit would be removed from a user’s account once the game has been refunded, gamers can’t help but feel they’re being unfairly punished by a natural consequence of the system’s mechanics.
My assumption is that Google will bring point balances back to zero or avoid taking points away whatsoever. Can you imagine earning points over the next two years just to get out of the negative? That’s not very rewarding at all and would feel more like a poorly managed bank account than a system that’s meant to encourage users to spend money on apps and games.