In a move that ultimately wasn’t too surprising, Google Stadia is opting out of the game-making business and focusing only on publishing.
It all started out so promisingly for Google’s ambitious Stadia project. Imagine a streaming service where you could play any video game you want, including a vast amount of Google exclusives, and all you need is the internet. Think Netflix but for gaming.
So to hear from Kotaku (and later confirmed by Google) that Stadia will be closing down its internal video game development studios (which will impact about 150 developers though apparently Google will try and find other roles for them in the company), cancelling several in-house projects (basically anything beyond a 2021 release window), and focusing on being a platformer for other video game publishers’ content.
The Stadia gaming service will still be operational as will its paid monthly Stadia Pro service, but it’s not clear whether many – if any – exclusive games will come to the platform after this big move. It could sign deals with publishers but it’s reported that Google will be offering its tech to other companies. In just a year and a bit, Google’s plan of having this project be a competitor to consoles has now been massively downsized.
There’s one question the comes out of this: how did this ambitious project fail?
The tech itself was pretty damn impressive – it actually runs the bug-riddled Cyberpunk 2077 quite well and showed that cloud gaming in which a game can run well on almost any device with an internet connection is doable.
The issue was the internet bit. While some countries have fast enough internet for this to work, others – like Australia – just didn’t have the speed or bandwidth for Stadia to run as intended.
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And there’s the issue of content. A big selling point for a console these days is its library of exclusive games and that’s one front Google struggled almightily with. In contrast to the huge library of games and exclusives on offer at Xbox, Nintendo, and Sony, Google had nothing by comparison.
Despite investing a heap of money in development studios and hiring accomplished video game developers, it was reported that Google just didn’t know how to make video games and its leadership team didn’t quite understand how that industry worked.
It’s a pretty sobering end to what seemed like a brilliant idea on paper. The Stadia tech remains mega impressive and can run games just fine. What will become of this tech following Google’s downsizing remains to be seen but here’s hoping we haven’t heard the last of Stadia just yet.
Focusing on Stadia’s future as a platform, and winding down SG&E : https://t.co/HsZUcGXbtZ
— Stadia (@GoogleStadia) February 1, 2021