Google Stadia, the game streaming service from Google, got off to a pretty rocky start with our reviewer being critical of its long installation process, limited device compatibility and lack of exclusives, even months after release.
That last problem just became a permanent one for the service as Google has announced via a blog that it is shutting the Stadia Games & Experiences (SG&E) team responsible for all internal game development, and will shift its focus exclusively to the streaming platform (via Kotaku).
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The SG&E team had yet to actually ship a game for the service, but that's not particularly shocking given that it has been less than two years since they hired Jade Raymond of Assassin's Creed fame to assemble and run the team. Google confirmed that Raymond will be leaving Google as well. According to Kotaku's sources, any games slated for release beyond an unidentified window in 2021 are being canceled.
For current subscribers to Google Stadia, this doesn't mean anything yet. Stadia Pro remains a $10-a-month service that will continue to add games from other developers just as it has so far. Despite its publishing aspirations coming to an end, the service itself has seen solid improvements over the last year with the addition of support for iPhones and iPads, the much-heralded State Share feature getting its debut in Hitman 3, and numerous reports that it was the best platform for Cyberpunk 2077 outside of a high-end Nvidia 30-series graphics card.
What about the long term? That's a little harder to figure out as Google is less than forthcoming with its exact plans. Phil Harrison, the VP and GM of Google Stadia stated in the post, "We’ll continue to invest in Stadia and its underlying platform to provide the best cloud gaming experience for our partners and the gaming community."
What exactly these partnerships will entail is left undefined. Is Google simply referring to more third-party games on its own platform or will this be Google licensing out technology to other companies for use outside of the Stadia service? The latter is certainly a plausible outcome and while the underlying technology business could flourish under that model for Google, it seems likely it would ultimately be the demise of the Stadia service as we know it.