Stadia, Google’s videogame streaming service that launched to little fanfare, is shutting down its two developers, according to a statement from Google this afternoon. The closures will affect about 150 developers, per reporting from Kotaku, and the head of games at Stadia, Jade Raymond, will be departing from the company. These changes reflect a change of course for what Google had planned for Stadia.
The statement reads that, “Given our focus on building on the proven technology of Stadia as well as deepening our business partnerships, we’ve decided that we will not be investing further in bringing exclusive content from our internal development team SG&E, beyond any near-term planned games.” The move will effectively wind down development on anything not slotted for immediate release, and close Stadia’s existing internal developers in the long-term in favor of broadening and selling the tech powering the platform.
Stadia, which launched 14 months ago in November of 2019, was supposed to revolutionize the idea of videogame streaming, seeking to eliminate the need for PCs to run high-end games. By all accounts, the tech works very well if your internet can handle it. Google even brought in talent from across the games industry to solidify Stadia in the eyes of their audience, tasking these teams with creating new games and IP exclusively for the platform, while it built up an audience via partnerships with big-ticket publishers and fresh releases. Now we’re seeing one half of that equation get shuttered in favor of the other before the development teams could even release, let alone announce, a new game.
The closure of Stadia’s two developers and the cancellation of their projects marks a shift in priorities for Google, who will keep Stadia running as a streaming service and continue building upon it. There will just no longer be an in-house development team working on new IP or games exclusively for Stadia now. Due to this development, Jade Raymond, who oversaw the creation of the first Assassin’s Creed title for Ubisoft before leaving to EA and finally coming to Google, is leaving the company.
Google will be looking to find positions for affected developers among their other operations, stating that “over the coming months, most of the SG&E team will be moving on to new roles. We’re committed to working with this talented team to find new roles and support them.”
Stadia, while technically fine, has had a long, sometimes bumpy, road on the way to today’s news. For a long while, there were issues concerning what state some games released in on Stadia-Borderlands 3 notably released a little later on the streaming platform and suffered because it was a technically older and inferior version of the game. On the other hand, when Cyberpunk 2077 released late last year, the Stadia version of the game was one of the superior versions of the notoriously bugged game. One of Stadia’s long touted features-where you could share a save state of a game with another user- only just launched last month with the release of Hitman 3. This last development likely points to what future Stadia development will look like: features that Google can deliver to publishers and developers.
Google shuttering Stadia’s games developers is only the most recent development in the tumultuous story of mega corporations getting into games and failing to understand how complicated it can be. A report from Bloomberg last month went into detail about how Amazon, a similar company that is launching a game streaming service and has completely walked back some of its own recent titles, has also failed to make inroads in the industry. Time will tell if this move proves to be the end of Stadia or a new beginning.