Google made the surprise declaration on February 1st that it would screen its in-house Stadia game development studios. However, the news wasn’t only an astonishment to Stadia clients; it was a bolt from the blue for the Stadia development team, which, simply a week earlier, had been informed that the studios were making “great progress,” as per a report from Kotaku.
“[Stadia Games and Entertainment] has made great progress building a diverse and talented team and establishing a strong lineup of Stadia exclusive games,” said Phil Harrison, a VP at Google and general manager for Stadia, on January 27th in an email to staff acquired by Kotaku.
The email guaranteed more news on the Stadia studios’ methodology and goals for 2021. In any case, rather than new development objectives, Harrison reported only days after the fact on February 1st that the studios would close down completely.
The greatest inquiry — both from outside onlookers and Stadia colleagues the same — is what changed. Harrison’s blog post reporting the closures refers to “exponentially” increasing expenses of “creating best-in-class games” as a factor, for example.
In any case, given Google’s $1.4 trillion market cap, it’s difficult to envision that as the sole purpose behind closing down the organization’s game development studios altogether, particularly when they were given so brief period to prove themselves.
In a Q&A with staff on February 4th, Harrison apparently conceded that Google’s executives definitely realized the closure was coming when he sent the email celebrating the team’s advancement.
Kotaku additionally reports that Harrison differently referred to Microsoft’s obtaining of Bethesda and the progressing difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic as factors in the closure.
Regardless, one thing is clear: by closing down its studios before they even managed to transport any significant first-party exclusives for Stadia, Google has shown its staff as well as the world that it isn’t as serious about its gaming activities as it once showed up.
Furthermore, eventually, that is something disillusioning to see, both for Stadia’s future and the industry at large.