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Google is shutting down an effort to create exclusive games for Stadia, a huge blow for the fledgling cloud gaming service.
On Monday, Google announced it was disbanding the Stadia Games and Entertainment team, which was charged with developing first-party titles over the last two years. Apparently, the whole endeavor has been costlier than anticipated.
“Creating best-in-class games from the ground up takes many years and significant investment, and the cost is going up exponentially,” says Stadia general manager Phil Harrison.
As a result, the company is going to stop investing in the SG&E team, “beyond any near-term planned games.” Instead, Google plans on spending more resources to build up Stadia’s cloud gaming technology, and deepening its relationships with third-party game studios.
“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,” Harrison says. However, the head of SG&E, video game producer Jade Raymond, is moving on to pursue other opportunities.
First-party titles are critical for any game platform to stand out and attract new users. (Imagine Microsoft’s Xbox without Halo, for example.) So today’s announcement is raising concern that Google is eventually going to abandon Stadia.
However, Harrison says the cloud gaming service isn’t going anywhere. “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,” he says. “We’re committed to the future of cloud gaming, and will continue to do our part to drive this industry forward.”
In the same blog post, Harrison pointed to Cyberpunk 2077 as a success for Stadia; the game runs relatively well on Google’s platform when the PS4 and Xbox One releases for Cyberpunk 2077 have been an abysmal mess filled with serious bugs. “It’s clear that Stadia’s technology has been proven and works at scale,” he added. “Having games streamed to any screen is the future of this industry.”
Still, Stadia faces plenty of competition from the likes of Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Amazon’s Luna, and Microsoft’s xCloud. The other downside to Stadia is the cost. A Stadia Pro subscription goes for $9.99 a month. But to play the biggest games, you have to buy them through Stadia’s digital store, usually at full price.
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