In a move that casts a giant shadow over Stadia’s future, Google this week announced that it was shutting down its first-party game studios in both Los Angeles and Montreal, which were previously part of Google’s Stadia Games and Entertainment organization.
“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,” noted Phil Harrison, Vice President and GM for Stadia. That means we might see a game or two from Google in the coming months, but don’t expect anything after that.
Citing the successful launch of Cyberpunk 2077 on Stadia, which many considered the best platform to play the beleaguered game on, Harrison explained that, instead of creating new first-party content for its platform, the company was now refocusing its attention on improving Stadia’s underlying infrastructure in order to make it “the best cloud gaming experience.”
As a result of this shift in priorities, Ubisoft and EA veteran Jade Raymond (of Assassin’s Creed fame) will also be leaving the company. Raymond had been leading Google’s first-party studios since 2019. Harrison also noted that “most of the SG&E team will be moving on to new roles.”
Stadia and Stadia Pro will continue to exist, and Google will instead be looking to third-party content for populating its games platform. “We’re committed to the future of cloud gaming,” said Harrison.
Still, the development is a stark departure from the conventional wisdom that powers most subscription-style services these days. Everyone from Netflix to Disney is banking on their exclusive content to wall customers into their ecosystems. And the lack of exciting first-party launch titles for the Xbox Series X has often been cited as one of the biggest reasons behind the console’s lower sales figures compared to the PS5.
Microsoft is, of course, spending billions on buying out the skilled developers it needs to change that, and it’ll be interesting to see if Google can effectively compete with Microsoft’s xCloud platform with neither the power of the Xbox brand nor the allure of first-party exclusives.