Google is launching its cloud-gaming service Stadia on November 19. The company is positioning this as the first giant leap into a console-less future. But one thing that will help Stadia succeed is marquee, exclusive content. So hopefully Google is starting to make some of its own games. Well, today, the company revealed that it is opening a studio in Montreal to do exactly that. That team, however, probably won’t get much done in the three weeks before Stadia debuts.
In a Google blog post, Stadia Games & Entertainment boss Jade Raymond announced the Montreal team as the company’s first game studio. She also explained what players should expect from this team.
“Stadia Games and Entertainment’s studio will produce exclusive, original content across a diverse portfolio of games in all your favorite genres,” writes Raymond. “Stadia is designed to be one destination for all the ways people play games — and Montreal is where we’re going to start building them.”
Google Stadia joins the Montreal game-dev scene
A Stadia studio in Montreal is a smart move. Canada is affordable, with welcoming tax regulations and credits for entertainment companies. Game development also has a deep presence in Montreal. Ubisoft, Warner Bros., Eidos, and Electronic Arts all have massive teams in that city. This ensures that Google can pull from an established talent pool.
And that is exactly the kind of talent that Stadia and Raymond need to actually launch an original game.
“I’ve been making games for a while now, and wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had for anything,” writes Raymond. “But we can do better. We can do more. At Stadia, we don’t believe in being ‘good enough.’ We believe in being more: More ambitious. More inclusive, more accessible, and more immersive. More engaging. We’re bringing that mentality to Stadia Games and Entertainment, and now with our first studio, we’re looking for the best developers on the planet to join us.”
Making games is challenging. Launching a blockbuster equivalent to God of War, Overwatch, or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild requires thousands of experts working for years. It’s so much effort that we’ve seen other conglomerates come and go in this space. Amazon hired hundreds of game developers to begin making its own projects, and that fizzled out after a handful of forgettable distractions.
Raymond seems serious, but it also could end up retreating like Amazon. Google has 100,000 employees, which seems like a lot — but a dedicated game-development company like Riot Games has 2,500 employees alone. And it has only released one game — although it finally announced a handful more after 10 years.
For Google to make a dent with gaming software, it’s probably going to have to grow its workforce by 2.5% to as much as 10%. And that seems like a huge labor increase just to make games. We’ll have to see if Google can stomach it where Amazon could not.