Stadia as a platform isn’t dead, but Google certainly isn’t inspiring any confidence in it with users. Today Google officially confirmed that it was going to be shutting down its internal Stadia Games & Entertainment game studios.
Formerly led by Jade Raymond, who has now decided to leave the company and pursue other opportunities, SG&E was the bright spot that many loyal fans of the Stadia platform had been hoping to see.
It meant that Google would be actively working to bring first-party exclusive titles to Stadia, and that the platform wouldn’t be dead in a year like so many people had joked and quipped about for months leading up to and following its launch.
But today’s announcement does little to bolster the hopes of users. In fact it does quite the opposite. Google’s decision to close down its internal game studios appears to be sewing the seeds of doubt. And for good reason.
Google announced the internal studio little more than a few weeks before Stadia’s official launch in 2019. And now it’s being officially closed. So users are understandably a little worried about the future of Stadia.
Stadia isn’t dead, but how committed to it is Google really?
From the beginning Google has promised that it was committed to the future of cloud gaming. It’s still making that promise. How committed is it really, though?
Google’s official position on the closure of its internal studio is that this is for the betterment of Stadia as a whole. It’ll allow them to focus on what it feels is the better path for Stadia moving forward. Which is to “officially” strengthen its partnerships with third-party gaming studios.
Google seems to have done that to some degree so far. Alongside gaming behemoths like Sony, Microsoft, Valve, and Epic Games, Google day and date launched highly anticipated titles such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Cyberpunk 2077.
It’s finally launched its version of Ubisoft+. Allowing subscribers access to a pretty large library of Ubisoft titles that they don’t have to buy. Google also says that it has plans to continue releasing big AAA titles throughout 2021.
And while all of that is certainly good, users still feel uneasy about the future of Stadia. The official subreddit post about the closures is rife with comments from Stadia Founders who say they will no longer purchase games on the platform. Due to their fear that Stadia is headed towards an eventual shutdown itself. Which would probably leave them without a way to play any purchased games.
And to be fair, this has always been a fear for many people. One of the main complaints about Stadia even prior to launch is that Google would give up on it before too long. If the company isn’t willing to stick it out with first-party exclusives, how long before it gets tired of Stadia in general?
This whole thing screams poor planning. Did Google overestimate the costs of game development and running a first-party game studio? Did it accurately estimate the costs and just lose interest? It’s hard to say. But neither scenario is good.
Credit where credit is due
As a Stadia Founder myself who has put some money into the platform, I understand the concerns of other current users.
No one wants to feel like their time and money investment into this platform is all for naught. But we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. Google has worked pretty hard (seemingly) to turn Stadia into something that is extremely enjoyable to use.
Though there were some hiccups with Stadia’s launch, over time the platform has only gotten better and better. More games were released. Stadia finally started getting some new titles that were also new to every other platform. And the feature set began to flesh out a little bit more.
Google has made good on some of its promises for the platform thus far. So there’s no reason to immediately chuck your hope for the platform out the window.
There’s still a reason to be hopeful. Just, be smart about things too. Google choosing to shutter the internal studios doesn’t mean it’s getting ready to close the doors on Stadia in general. That being said, subscribers should definitely be cautious now with future game purchases.
Google needs to keep the lines of communication open
If there’s one thing Google absolutely can’t do after this afternoon’s announcement, it’s restricting the lines of communication.
A major flaw of Google’s going into this back in 2019 was the lack of communication on the platform regarding features and games. Google turned things around eventually though. It now routinely puts out official posts on the subreddit. It churns out weekly updates on the Stadia Community blog. There’s an active forum for users to discuss things.
Google sends out consistent emails about Stadia to press by way of PR. All of that hard work will be for nothing if Google clams up about Stadia’s future plans going forward. There are still many loyal subscribers who want to see Stadia succeed and be around five or even ten years from now.
But that isn’t going to happen without the subscribers. And the subscribers won’t stick around if there aren’t continual updates about more new AAA third-party games and fun, innovative features.
The worst thing Google could do right now is avoid the opportunity to reassure its users. With that said, users need to do their part too. Google has made an announcement that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in Stadia’s longevity. I get it.
But now it’s time to give Google a moment to follow up today’s announcement with something more positive about Stadia’s future. Here’s hoping Google lives up to its promises.