The beginning of the end of Google Stadia? Google closes game development studio
Google announced plans yesterday to shut down the company's dedicated Stadia Games and Entertainment development studio. The studio, revealed to the world in October 2019 when Google announced its game streaming service Stadia officially, was headquartered in Montreal and Los Angeles, and led by Jade Raymond, who is best known for her work as an executive producer at Ubisoft.
The announcement came hours after Kotaku published details on Google's plan to shut down the development studio.
Stadia is a game streaming service that enables subscribers to play a selection of games on nearly any device with Internet capabilities. The main appeal of the solution is that the customer's device does not need to be very performant or have the latest in gaming hardware to play computer games.
Time and money are the two reasons that Google gives for shutting down the studio.
Creating best-in-class games from the ground up takes many years and significant investment, and the cost is going up exponentially.
The studio has not produced a game yet but the announcement hints that "near-term planned games" could be released to the Stadia platform. Most game studio employees, about 150 according to the Kotaku article, will "be moving on to new roles" according to Google's announcement.
Google wants to focus on the platform itself and reassures subscribers that it is committed to cloud gaming and Stadia. Google plans to offer Stadia and the technology behind it to game publishers and developers.
Google had high hopes and plans for Stadia, and focused on bringing third-party games to the platform and creating exclusive games in-house to attract a larger audience. One of those two pillars shattered with Google's announcement, and it remains to be seen how successful the remaining part of the business and Google's new strategic direction will be.
One of the main points of criticism directed towards Stadia from the very beginning was one that is true for all digital subscription services with purchase options: if the service is shut down, customers will lose access to all their purchases.
The announcement highlights the fragility of the platform. Google is not the only company with difficulties in establishing in-house game development studios. Amazon, too, is trying to enter the market. The company pulled one of the games created by one of its game studios recently because it did not meet expectations.
Stadia could very well be around for a long time, especially if Google's plan to focus on partnerships with game studios and publishers is fruitful. The decision to shut down the game development studio on the other hand may be confirmation to some that the decision to stay away from Stadia has been the right one.
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