Google Quickly Slashes Stadia's Ambitions for 2021


So Kotaku broke out recently the story that Google would be changing its plans for Stadia going forward. What kind of change? Well, shutting down their first-party content studios, apparently:

“Google will close its two game studios, located in Montreal and Los Angeles. Neither had released any games yet. That closure will impact around 150 developers, one source familiar with Stadia operations said.”

This was one of the strategies of Stadia going forward: by having exclusive games only available on Stadia, they would be able to attract gamers to the service and make sure they subscribe. Maybe Google realized at some point it was an expensive endeavor and that the games that they developed were not on par with the quality required. Who knows? In any case, Jade Raymond is leaving Google following such news (probably with a nice paycheck) and moves on to something else.

Anyway, Stadia is not dead yet, as Google is repurposing it as a way for other companies to stream their games across devices. Google’s own press release following the news from Kotaku clearly states:

“In 2021, we’re expanding our efforts to help game developers and publishers take advantage of our platform technology and deliver games directly to their players. We see an important opportunity to work with partners seeking a gaming solution all built on Stadia’s advanced technical infrastructure and platform tools. We believe this is the best path to building Stadia into a long-term, sustainable business that helps grow the industry.”

I find the “deliver games directly” as telling: are we going to see games published on Stadia, and other games using Stadia’s technology but delivered through one’s own platform? If that is the case, we might see the following happening:

  • Stadia as a technology being licensed to other publishers for a fee
  • Stadia as a platform made available to other publishers, while not on Google’s Stadia itself.

In any case, this is certainly a big setback for Google’s ambitions in that field. I would wager it makes it ripe for divesting/selling it to a different company in case this new business model does not work as expected. After all, there’s quite a lot of competition going on, as nicely summarized by our friend cow_killer not too long ago.