In a surprise announcement today, Google announced that it is closing down all of their first-party development. This includes their two studios in Los Angeles and Montreal which includes about 150 staff members.
What makes this more surprising, is just nine months ago in March of 2020, Stadia announced it was building a new first-party studio headed up by the likes of Ex-Sony Santa Monica Head Shannon Studstill who oversaw God of War. Well-known industry lead, Jade Raymond who was the VP of Stadia Games and Entertainment, has also left her role.
This news was shared via a blog post from Phil Harrison, VP and GM of Stadia, in which said the following:
We launched Stadia with the goal of making your favorite games instantly available wherever you want to play them. With the recent successful launch of Cyberpunk 2077 on Stadia, gameplay on all types of devices, including iOS, growing our slate of YouTube integrations, and our global expansions, it’s clear that Stadia’s technology has been proven and works at scale. Having games streamed to any screen is the future of this industry, and 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. This has been the vision of Stadia since the beginning.
In 2021, we’re expanding our efforts to help game developers and publishers take advantage of our platform technology and deliver games directly to their players. We see an important opportunity to work with partners seeking a gaming solution all built on Stadia’s advanced technical infrastructure and platform tools. We believe this is the best path to building Stadia into a long-term, sustainable business that helps grow the industry.
Creating best-in-class games from the ground up takes many years and significant investment, and the cost is going up exponentially. Given our focus on building on the proven technology of Stadia as well as deepening our business partnerships, 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. With the increased focus on using our technology platform for industry partners, Jade Raymond has decided to leave Google to pursue other opportunities. We greatly appreciate Jade’s contribution to Stadia and wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors. Over the coming months, most of the SG&E team will be moving on to new roles. We’re committed to working with this talented team to find new roles and support them.
What does this mean if you’re a current or future Stadia gamer? You can continue playing all your games on Stadia and Stadia Pro, and we’ll continue to bring new titles from third parties to the platform. We’re committed to the future of cloud gaming, and will continue to do our part to drive this industry forward. Our goal remains focused on creating the best possible platform for gamers and technology for our partners, bringing these experiences to life for people everywhere.
From the outside looking in, this is rather bizarre. Stadia was in the process of building and had previously talked extensively about how important home-grown content was for them. Yet less than a year later, they are shutting down their new studio and losing high-profile leaders in the industry. While it may make sense for Google to focus on partnerships and third-party agreements, we’re curious to see how they drive users to the platform and away from PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo. This is even more true as Xbox moves toward having a “complete” solution with game libraries, profiles, and cloud access included in the package. Regardless, we’ll be paying close attention to how Stadia evolves from this point forward.