Google made a surprise announcement on February 1 that it would weed out its in-house Stadia game development studios. But the news was not just a surprise for Stadia customers; it was a bolt from the blue for the Stadia development team, which just a week before had been told that the studios were making “great progress”, according to a report from Kotaku.
“[Stadia Games and Entertainment] has made great strides in building a diverse and talented team and establishing a strong selection of exclusive Stadia games, ”said Phil Harrison, Vice President of Google and CEO of Stadia, in a January 27 email to employees obtained by Kotaku. The e-mail promised more news about the Stadia studios̵
The biggest question – both from external observers and Stadia team members – is what has changed. Harrison’s blog post announcing the closures, for example, cites “exponentially” rising costs for “making the best games in the class.” But given Google’s market value of $ 1.4 trillion, it’s hard to imagine it as the only reason to shut down the company’s game development studios altogether, especially when they had so little time to prove themselves.
In a question and answer session with employees on February 4, Harrison allegedly admitted that Google executives already knew the shutdown was coming when he sent the email praising the team’s progress. Kotaku also reports that Harrison in various ways cited Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda and the ongoing challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic as factors in the closure.
Whatever the case, one thing is clear: by shutting down its studios before they even managed to post any major first-party exclusions for Stadia, Google has shown not only its employees but also the world that gaming initiatives are not so serious. as it once appeared. And finally, it is a disappointing thing to see, both for Stadia’s future and for the industry in general.