Sources at Google’s failed game studio say it should’ve just bought studios and left them alone like Microsoft
Google launched Stadia in March 2019 with great success and promised to revolutionize gaming. Streaming games were hardly a new idea at the time, but Google had the money and muscle to make it happen, not to mention a first-party game studio, Stadia Games and Entertainment, run by Ubisoft and EA veteran Jade Raymond has been.
Less than two years later, however, the plan to develop first-party Stadia games failed: Google closed its in-house studios before it managed to release a game, and Raymond left the company as a result. Stadia will continue to function as a platform with the same free and subscription-based plans as always, but Google will “no longer invest in in-house game development,” said Stadia CEO Phil Harrison.
A new report from Wired on the failure of Stadia’s in-house studios suggests the outcome was almost inevitable, largely due to a lack of experience and understanding at Google of the differences between developing technology and creating games.
“Google is really an engineering and technology company,” a Stadia source told the website. “Creation of content – this requires role types that are normally not available on Google.”
In our view, Stadia was in a decidedly overwhelming state at launch, and sources told Wired that there were serious internal issues as well. Developers should focus on showcasing the Stadia technology, not the games themselves, and a hiring freeze was introduced in April 2020 before the then-new California Stadia studio was even full, which, according to a source, developers called ” lack of engagement “considered by Google to create content. “Over time, some aspects of the process improved, such as access to development tools and performance reviews, which were more game-oriented, but the workforce never increased beyond that point.
Despite these obstacles, Harrison said in late January that Stadia Games and Entertainment had made “great strides in building a diverse and talented team and building a strong line of exclusive Stadia games”. But, as reported earlier this month, it pulled the plug just five days later.
The report notes that Google’s Stadia experience is in many ways similar to that of Amazon, another company that hasn’t impacted the video game business despite having virtually unlimited resources at its disposal. Two sources said Google would have been better off emulating Microsoft’s approach: buy studios, give them money, and leave them alone.
“I’ve seen that this can only work if Google accepts that we take it step by step,” said one. “If Google is really interested in taking its place in this market, it’s okay to start losing money trying to establish its presence.”
The full report on Stadia Games and Entertainment’s demise goes into much more detail on this matter – you can read it over at Wired.