Google is being Google again.
Google has a history of kicking off ambitious new ideas, services, and initiatives with a lot of bombast and bluster, only to drop them unexpectedly in their infancy. While that’s not what they’re quite doing with Stadia, a service that hasn’t ever really managed to get off the ground the way they may have hoped it would, it seems they’re de-emphasizing their efforts as makers of video games.
In a recent update, Stadia boss Phil Harrison confirmed that Google will now be focusing its efforts on the service more “as a platform”, and that while Google will continue to invest in Stadia’s technology, their first party game development studios under the Stadia Games and Entertainment banner will be shutting down.
“We launched Stadia with the goal of making your favorite games instantly available wherever you want to play them,” Harrison writes. “With the recent successful launch of Cyberpunk 2077 on Stadia, gameplay on all types of devices, including iOS, growing our slate of YouTube integrations, and our global expansions, it’s clear that Stadia’s technology has been proven and works at scale. Having games streamed to any screen is the future of this industry, and we’ll continue to invest in Stadia and its underlying platform to provide the best cloud gaming experience for our partners and the gaming community. This has been the vision of Stadia since the beginning.
“In 2021, we’re expanding our efforts to help game developers and publishers take advantage of our platform technology and deliver games directly to their players. We see an important opportunity to work with partners seeking a gaming solution all built on Stadia’s advanced technical infrastructure and platform tools. We believe this is the best path to building Stadia into a long-term, sustainable business that helps grow the industry.”
This means that while first party games close to completion or those that are due out in 2021, anything beyond that is a no-go. Kotaku states in a report that according to several sources familiar with this transition, Google has scrapped and cancelled a number of upcoming projects internally (and based on previous statements, they certainly had plans for plenty of upcoming projects).
Phil Harrison also confirms that Jade Raymond, who was the head of Stadia Games and Services, will be leaving Google.
“Creating best-in-class games from the ground up takes many years and significant investment, and the cost is going up exponentially,” Harrison says. “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. With the increased focus on using our technology platform for industry partners, Jade Raymond has decided to leave Google to pursue other opportunities. We greatly appreciate Jade’s contribution to Stadia and wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors. Over the coming months, most of the SG&E team will be moving on to new roles. We’re committed to working with this talented team to find new roles and support them.”
Harrison goes on to provide assurances in his update that Stadia owners will continue to receive content from third party developers and publishers, and that Google will continue to invest in Stadia as a platform.
“You can continue playing all your games on Stadia and Stadia Pro, and we’ll continue to bring new titles from third parties to the platform,” he writes. “We’re committed to the future of cloud gaming, and will continue to do our part to drive this industry forward. Our goal remains focused on creating the best possible platform for gamers and technology for our partners, bringing these experiences to life for people everywhere.”
Last year, Google opened up a new first party game development studio under the leadership of former God of War developer SIE Santa Monica boss Shannon Studstill. That studio, too, meets with an untimely closure.