On February 1, 2021, Google announced on its blog that it’s going to shut down its internal studio for its Stadia console and change its business focus. In that same blog post, Google also announced that their studio head, Jade Raymond, will leave.
Stadia is Google’s gaming console. Gamers access it using cloud storage technology and Google claimed Stadia was able to stream games up to 4K resolution at 60 frames and support HDR video.
Stadia also has a Pro tier subscription service that allows users to stream up to 4K and have 5.1 surround-sound at the same time.
Google hyped up Stadia, a lot, and the marketing for it was pretty intense. However, it ultimately failed to live up to expectations.
Initial reactions to Stadia were mostly tepid. Early buyers criticized the service’s small selection of launch titles and lack of promoted features. Moreover, Stadia had a difficult time running at 4K resolution.
Digital Foundry, a tech reviews website, found that not all games ran at 4K resolution. In their review, they used Red Dead Redemption 2 as their test game and found that, at best, the game could only run at 1440p and 30 frames per second on Stadia. The game barely ran 60 fps consistently.
Ars Technica commented on Stadia, saying, “Early adopters [will] feel like they’re getting a beta product…”
Google became pretty uncommunicative on Stadia as they rarely mentioned what first-party games were in production. In January 2020, Stadia owners were concerned over Google’s lack of communication over missing features like the 4K streaming, which eventually became a reality, but only after repeated inquiries.
— Techpost (@techpostio) January 31, 2020
Customers were left in the dark as to whether or not Google would actually do anything with Stadia.
Is Stadia Dead?
Not really. Stadia is now a service for other game studios to put their games on. In their blog post, Google states they will “[expand]… efforts to help game developers and publishers take advantage of our platform technology and deliver games directly to their players”.
As to why Google decided to close their internal studio, the company said “creating best in class games from the ground takes many years and significant investment, and the cost is going up exponentially.”
It seems the sheer cost of producing a console selling game was too difficult a pill to swallow, even for a billion-dollar company like Google.
Concerns regarding whether the cost of game production truly was what killed the studio were also echoed by members of the gaming press. Imran Khan, former senior editor at Game Informer, said Stadia “poached exceptional talent from other places and made acquisitions with strong potential.”
This seems to be the case with Jade Raymond and other producers on Stadia as they were all taken from Ubisoft Montreal to work on Stadia. Whatever game she was working on has been scrapped.
The thing about Stadia's internal studios is, they poached *exceptional* talent from other places and made acquisitions with strong potential. They then tasked them to establish new teams and make AAA games, which takes around 3-4 years at best.
What did they expect would happen
— Imran Khan (@imranzomg) February 1, 2021
I think this is a great example of how Google doesn’t understand the games industry. To me, it seems that Google wanted to rush things and put some killer apps out there ASAP without putting in the work. It’s strange to think that Google, of all companies, didn’t think it was a good idea to put sufficient resources and time behind game making.
Stadia is wasted potential. Maybe someday in the future, Stadia or, at least, the technology will be revisited.