Beginning of the end? Google closes Stadia game studios and shifts business focus

Beginning of the end?  Google closes Stadia game studios and shifts business focus

Stadia – Google’s game streaming platform – was launched in November 2019, with the expectation of revolutionizing the sector. That’s because the service promised its users to run any title without needing a more powerful PC or video game. After all, game processing would come from Google’s servers, just having good bandwidth to make the magic happen on any device. However, just over a year after its debut, it seems that the thing is not working as it should, forcing the search giant to change the route of the service.

  • State Share system arrives at Google Stadia more than a year late
  • Google Stadia | Is Brazil ready to receive games by streaming?
  • Stadia: how Google’s game streaming system works

The division’s main measure is the closure of its two game studios, located in Montreal and Los Angeles. And the whole project stopped right at the beginning, since neither unit had released a game. In this process, Jade Raymond left. veteran game producer who helped build classics like Assassin´s Creed for Ubisoft, as well as projects at Electronic Arts. He had taken the lead in creating games, but according to Google, “he decided to leave the company to look for other opportunities”.

The closure of activities still impacts 150 employees who, according to an official announcement by Google on their blog, will assume new functions in the coming months. “We are committed to working with this talented team, as we seek new roles and support them,” says the statement.

To further justify the closure of its studios, Google addresses the high costs of the sector:

Creating the best games from scratch takes many years and significant investment, and the cost is rising exponentially. Given our focus on developing Stadia’s proven technology, as well as deepening our business partnerships, we have decided that we will no longer invest in bringing exclusive content from our in-house development team, in addition to any games planned in the short term.

With the increasing focus on using our technology platform for industry partners, Jade Raymond decided to leave Google to look for other opportunities. We greatly appreciate Jade’s contribution to Stadia and wish her luck in her future endeavors. In the coming months, most of the team [dos estúdios] assume new roles. We are committed to working with this talented team to find new roles and support them.

Focus on market publishers

Still in the same statement, Google announces another change of course for Stadia. According to the company, the next step in its strategy is to offer game publishers, opening up the possibility of Stadia becoming a streaming technology for other game companies:

In 2021, we are 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 looking for a gaming solution built entirely on Stadia’s advanced technical infrastructure and platform tools. We believe that this is the best way to transform Stadia into a long-term sustainable business that will help to expand the sector.

Also according to the company, Phil Harrison, head of operations for the Stadia division, will be responsible for seeking new partnerships with these publishers.

Trending  Google Pay and Samsung Pay to release cryptocurrency payments

The company also says that the good performance of the buggy Cyberpunk 2077 on Stadia, on all devices, including iOS, increased the range of YouTube integrations and its global expansions. Thus, according to the company:

It was clear that Stadia’s technology was proven and works at scale. Having games streamed to any screen is the future of this industry, and we will continue to invest in Stadia and its underlying platform to provide the best cloud gaming experience for our partners and the gaming community. This has been Stadia’s vision from the beginning.

Didn’t take off?

At the time of the launch of Stadia, Google initially offered the platform in a Founder’s Edition package, at a price of $ 129 (R $ 700 in today’s price), which included a custom joystick, a Chromecast Ultra and three months from Stadia Pro, a subscription service that gave access to certain games and that costs $ 10 a month.

In addition, Google has promoted some interesting features in the service. One is the ability to allow players to pass control of a Stadia game to another user, with it being broadcast live. There is also the possibility to create a link and send it to someone else to continue the game exactly where it left off (State Share). The problem is that many of these features were not available at launch and remained in testing phases, not helping to attract interested parties.

Trending  Startups want to digitize small restaurants in the interior of Brazil

The best moments of the service may have been when he showed his strength by playing third party games from the cloud. The platform proved that the titles could run well on any device, even less powerful smartphones, as long as there is a screen and good broadband. Ubisoft games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Destiny 2 stood out. In the latter, it is even possible for players to attend a mission or an extra game from a cell phone or laptop, even away from the normal equipment to run the game.

However, Google made a big mistake, omitting itself in relation to a “legend” that involved Stadia and that the company never bothered to deny until just before its launch: that the platform would be a kind of “Netflix” of games “, that is, the user would pay a fixed monthly amount and play all the games he wants. And when the company finally clarified that the system would not work like that and that players would have to pay for the titles, many people were discouraged.

Add that to the fact that Microsoft – much more experienced in that market – has expanded its cloud gaming service, xCloud, by including it as part of its Game Pass Ultimate package. With that, Stadia became less and less attractive to the heavy user player, essential to popularize – and, of course, make a profit – this game model. Not to mention that the platform does not bring those bombastic exclusive games, which also help attract interested parties.

Trending  Mercado Livre announces free shipping for purchases from R $ 79

Still, Google bet on the future of Stadia, with the creation of studios for original games, with a leadership team made up of experienced studio heads and creative directors. However, these efforts were not enough to calm executives at the search giant: Stadia would lose internal support before it had enough time to show its full potential.

So Stadia will end?

Not yet. Its game streaming technology is solid and can work in this new strategy of offering it to publishers, although it is difficult to imagine how they will use the platform, without having to face a strain with Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. The PC area, perhaps, is an outlet.

However, as an aspiring game publisher, Google appears to have delivered the points. To Kotaku, a source familiar with Stadia’s primary operations, said: “Google was a terrible place to make games. Imagine Amazon (which is also not doing very well in this field), but with few resources. ”

Either way, Google will continue to offer Stadia to users – including Stadia Pro. However, it is unclear how many exclusive games are yet to come to the service – if there are any. Still, the search giant has hinted that it can still sign up for new games and will also bring more third-party releases to its platform. However, a large part of the market sees the plan to make Stadia work as a competitive competitor for the super consolidated Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft as a step backwards.