Google’s Stadia cloud gaming service has been an ambitious project from the beginning. The company set out to do something that few thought possible and then turn it into a mainstream way to play games. Today, Stadia is a respectable platform that allows gamers to enjoy some of their favorite games without the need for expensive hardware. As long as you have a stable internet connection, you can play triple-A titles on Stadia.
However, Google took things a step further, investing heavily into its in-house game development studios. This was a sign of its commitment to Stadia and gave the platform a hope of becoming something more than just another place to play.
Now, Google has announced that it is shuttering its in-house development studios. It will focus on making Stadia a place to play existing games and new titles from other studios rather than developing its own. Although it isn’t necessarily a blow to Stadia’s core model, the move does seem to limit how far the platform will be able to go.
As The Verge’s Chaim Gartenberg notes, developing triple-A video games is a serious commitment in terms of both time and money. It’s no coincidence that more studios aren’t capable of doing so.
Stadia’s general manager, Phil Harrison, noted in a company blog post that, with the launch of “Cyberpunk 2077” on the platform, Stadia’s core mission is complete. Google successfully built, launched, and scaled a platform capable of supporting top-tier games from the cloud.
Moving forward, the company will focus on continuing to improve that technology. The tradeoff, of course, is that its in-house development studios will be shutting down. That applies to both its Los Angeles and Montreal locations, both operating under the Stadia Games and Entertainment (SG&E) banner, The Verge reports.
In the blog post, Harrison goes on to say, “Creating best-in-class games from the ground up takes many years and significant investment, and the cost is going up exponentially. 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.”
In November, The Burn-In reported that Google had more than 400 games in development for Stadia. It’s unclear how many of those titles will still be released by third-party developers and how many fell under Google’s in-house teams.
What’s Next for Stadia?
Prior to today’s announcement, the future was complex and exciting for Google’s fledgling cloud gaming service. Now, the path forward looks much clearer and, unfortunately, a bit stale.
It’s worth noting that current Stadia subscribers won’t notice any changes. The cloud platform itself will remain untouched and anyone that’s purchased games on Stadia can continue playing them.
Harrison says that Google will “continue to bring new titles from third parties to the platform.” He also notes that the company remains committed to Stadia and making the platform a major part of gaming’s future.
Of course, it now appears that Stadia will be no more than the equivalent of a console that comes with a monthly fee. Without in-house games, Google will have a hard time competing with the likes of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. Even so, Stadia is still a good option for people who don’t want to buy expensive hardware.