Google is shutting down its in-house Stadia game studio
Google on Monday confirmed plans to shut down Stadia’s internal game development division, citing challenges of cost and time as two major factors. The search giant reiterated that this doesn’t mean Stadia itself is shutting down for consumers.
When Stadia first launched, Google not only promised the service would be the future of gaming, but also that they were committed to developing first-party titles that would be exclusive to the platform. But today’s news means it’s shutting down two studios—one in Los Angeles and one in Montreal—under the Stadia Games and Entertainment (SG&E) banner.
In its blog post, Google said that most of the team under the SG&E banner will move to new roles in the company. However, Jade Raymond, a Ubisoft and EA industry veteran tapped to lead the Stadia game studios, is set to leave the company. While Google said it has no plans to further invest in exclusive content from its internal development team, it does plan to release “near-term” games. There’s also the possibility of Google continuing to secure exclusive or timed-exclusive content from third-party studios.
“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,” Google said. “We’re committed to the future of cloud gaming, and will continue to do our part to drive this industry forward.”
Stadia originally launched at the end of 2019, allowing gamers to stream titles right from a browser, Chromecast Ultra, or mobile device. Players can purchase games through the service and also subscribe to Stadia Pro for $9.99, which nets discounts and free games every month.
The news comes as a blow because first-party titles that take full advantage of the cloud were part of Stadia’s early pitch. But Google said that creating “best-in-class games from the ground up takes many years and significant investment,” causing it to rethink its strategy.
With the recent launch of next-generation consoles, the continued rise of the Nintendo Switch, and competition from other game streaming services like Microsoft’s xCloud gaming, Stadia always had an uphill battle. Hearing that its in-house team is being shuttered doesn’t mean the service will be part of Google’s infamous lineup of abandoned services, but it certainly doesn’t inspire confidence.
Regardless of Stadia’s future as a consumer platform, it looks like Google is pursuing a few interesting avenues with the cloud gaming technology they’ve built. Google mentions that there has been an “increased focus on using [their] technology platform for industry partners.” The company sees an “important opportunity to work with partners seeking a gaming solution all built on Stadia’s advanced technical infrastructure and platform tools.” This, the company says, will be “the best path to building Stadia into a long-term, sustainable business that helps grow the industry.” Thus, even if Google’s investment in Stadia as a cloud gaming service for consumers withers away, it may live on as the technical backend for future cloud gaming services from established industry players.