Google’s dedication to it’s Stadia cloud gaming service already seems to be waning, as they recently ceased all first-party development, shuttering their Stadia Games & Entertainment studios in Montreal and Los Angeles. While the Stadia service will continue, Google has said their main focus going forward will be licensing their Stadia tech out to other publishers and developers. Well, while Google is changing tactics now, not too long ago they were willing to shell out big bucks in hopes of making Stadia a success.
According to a new report from Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, Google spent “10s of millions” to lock down individual games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and unnamed titles from Ubisoft. This wasn’t for exclusivity, mind you – Google was paying this much just to get a port. Despite all the money being thrown around, Stadia reportedly fell short of targets for controller sales and monthly active users by hundreds of thousands.
The Bloomberg article seems to pin a lot of these shortcomings on Stadia boss Phil Harrison, who deserves credit for helping build up the PlayStation brand, but didn’t seem as home in the world of cloud gaming. Some within in Google reportedly believed Stadia should be rolled out slowly, with multiple betas to test new features, but Harrison favored a flashy console-like launch. A launch that didn’t go particularly well.
With Stadia desperately in need of software, and paying millions for every port not an option, Stadia Games & Entertainment was opened to provide more content, but it sounds like they never really made it out of the prototype phase. Schreier describes one project as a mix between “Google Assistant and a Tamagotchi” that let you talk and interact with various smart creatures. That sounds cute, but not something that’s going to get a new cloud gaming platform off the ground.
It will be interesting to see where Google and Stadia go next, but it does seem like those early free-spending days are over. Hopefully Google can pivot with Stadia, because the tech really is impressive once you get your hands on it.