Google Stadia, the tech giant’s video game streaming platform that launched in 2019, will close its internal game development studios and focus on offering its tech platform to outside publishers, the company announced Monday.
As Kotaku first reported, Google will close its two Stadia Games & Entertainment studios located in Los Angeles and Montreal. The closure will affect about 150 employees, a source told Kotaku. Google says it will try to find new roles in the company for those affected.
“With the recent successful launch of Cyberpunk 2077 on Stadia, playability on all types of devices, including iOS, our growing list of YouTube integrations, and our global expansions, it is clear that Stadia’s technology has been tested and works to large scale, “Google Stadia Vice President and GM Phil Harrison said in a statement. “Having games streamed to any screen is the future of this industry, and we will 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 Stadia’s vision since the beginning.”
Jade Raymond, the prominent producer who helped bring Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise to life, is also leaving her role as head of game development at Google.
What does this mean for Stadia subscribers? Google claims that gamers can still access their games on Stadia (or the monthly Stadia Pro subscription), and that third-party games will continue to launch on the service. It’s unclear how many third-party games Google plans to host on Stadia.
A key pillar of Google’s new strategy is offering Stadia’s game streaming technology to other interested companies. Google’s Stadia COO Phil Harrison will lead that initiative.
Google Stadia launched with great anticipation, but a rocky start, fraught with glitches and a small library of games turned out to be the service’s downfall. Ironically, the Stadia version proved to be one of the most reliable platforms for playing the open-world role-playing game Cyberpunk 2077, notoriously buggy on Sony and Microsoft consoles.
Google was also shelving its own Stadia Pro subscription plan by finally offering a free version of the service in April 2020. Although Google phased out its list of missing features, his clear lack of games of his own proved to be a concern. In IGN’s own review, our fellow Americans saw absolutely no reason to subscribe to Stadia Pro while the free service was still equally viable.
Stadia also saw stiff competition from Microsoft’s XCloud service, which similarly streamed a wide variety of games to almost any device, as long as the internet connection was strong enough. A common concern among Stadia skeptics was whether Google would invest enough time in the service for it to realize its potential, a fear that seems justified now.
Despite Google’s seemingly immense influence in the tech world, the company seemed lacking the resources to launch a major game. A source familiar with Stadia’s own work told Kotaku: “Google was a terrible place to make games. Imagine Amazon, but with few resources.”