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Just a bit over a year after launching its Stadia platform, Google is starting to scale back its gaming ventures. The company is closing its two game development studios and cancelling its projects aside from “any near-term planned games”, as reported by Kotaku. Google’s statement can be found here.
Stadia is a cloud-based streaming platform that launched November 19, 2019. Google started the Stadia Games and Entertainment division in March of that year, putting industry vet and former Assassin’s Creed producer Jade Raymond in charge.
Raymond is now leaving Google.
The closures of the Montreal and Los Angeles studios will affect 150 developers. Google will attempt to find new roles for the impacted employees.
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Google will continue to operate Stadia as a gaming service with its $10 a month price tag for Stadia Pro. But this move today means that exclusives for the platform are unlikely to ever materialize. Kotaku notes that Google is now going to start shopping its cloud gaming tech to other companies, which could spell a dubious future for Stadia if publishers decide to just use the technology but not the platform.
Big tech companies like Google and Amazon have made big attempts to get into game development in recent years with little to nothing to show for the effort and investment. Amazon released the online shooter Crucible in May. It stopped development on it in October. Amazon’s MMO New World is set to come out this year.
Stadia is a victim of bad timing and poor planning. New platforms need exclusives for when they launch and shortly afterward, but Stadia Games and Entertainment was started too late to ever make games for that window. Stadia’s 2019 launch was also a rough time to debut a new platform, as the Switch was going strong and other gamers waited patiently for the releases of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S the previous year. And then there’s competition within the cloud-streaming space itself, which heated up when Microsoft made its xCloud service part of its Game Pass Ultimate bundle.
Google has the money to take risks with ventures like gaming, but since it knows that it doesn’t depend on Stadia being a success in order to remain profitable, the company is able to easily abandon (or scale back) the venture.
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