The company is refocusing its streaming service
by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge
Google is shutting down its internal Stadia game development division, the company announced today, as it refocuses Stadia to be a home for streaming games from existing developers instead of developing its own games for the service.
“Creating best-in-class games from the ground up takes many years and significant investment, and the cost is going up exponentially,” reads a blog post from Phil Harrison, a vice president at Google and general manager for Stadia. “Given our focus on building on the proven technology of Stadia as well as deepening our business partnerships, we’ve decided that we will not be investing further in bringing exclusive content from our internal development team SG&E, beyond any near-term planned games.”
As part of that change, the company is shutting down both its Los Angeles and Montreal game studios, both of which existed under the Stadia Games and Entertainment banner. Google says that “most of the SG&E [Stadia Games and Entertainment] team will be moving on to new roles,” but Jade Raymond — the Ubisoft and EA industry veteran that led the Stadia studio teams — will be departing the company entirely.
Stadia itself, alongside the $9.99 Stadia Pro subscription service, will continue to exist going forward, and Google may continue trying to secure exclusive (or timed-exclusive) third-party titles to offer through its subscription. Any “near-planned” games will still be released on Stadia, too.
But the shuttering of Stadia’s in-house studios marks a serious blow to Google’s gaming ambitions. Beyond the mere technical aspects of the streaming service itself, the fact that Google was willing to invest in multiple first-party studios was one of the most significant parts of the original Stadia vision.
That Google would be creating games for the fledgling streaming service — titles that in theory would take advantage of its unique cloud technology — marked how seriously Google was investing in Stadia. It was also a sign that the company aspired to one day introduce exclusives that could offer compelling competition to companies like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, all of which rely heavily on their own in-house studios to create key exclusive games to drive players to their services.
The fact that Stadia will no longer be in the game-making business makes a certain amount of sense: developing a AAA-title is an incredibly expensive endeavor. But it also means that Stadia’s future will likely be relegated to just another option where you can play the same games as you can already play on a PS5, Xbox Series X, or PC.