Sunday, May 9, 2021

Stadia Game Studio is Dead, Stadia Game Streaming Lives On (For Now)

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The Stadia logo in front of several game titles.

Stadia, the Google project that streams games to your home without a console, took a significant blow today. The company announced it’s shutting down Stadia’s game development studios, which means Stadia won’t have an ongoing stream of exclusive games. Stadia itself will stick around, but it may be a harder sell without great exclusives—just ask Microsoft.

After all, a gaming ecosystem’s success often hinges on exclusive games that drive sales. That, among other reasons, is why PlayStation won the last console war. Microsoft’s Xbox One sold plenty of units, but Sony’s PS4 sold far more.

But game development requires years of work and lots of money. And at the end of the tunnel, the game still may not be any good. If CyberPunk 2077 taught us any lessons, it’s that game developers are often too ambitious, which can lead to failure to deliver. Developers can recover, see No Man’s Sky and other examples, but that ultimately requires more time and money.

In a statement today, Google said it would put those resources into building out the Stadia service itself:

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.

The Stadia Games and Entertainment will wind down after they complete the “near-term planned games.” You shouldn’t expect to see any new Stadia exclusives beyond 2021. What isn’t going away is Stadia. Not only will Google continue to offer Stadia Pro to consumers, it says it will work with outside developers to get games onto Stadia.

Whether or not Google succeeds remains to be seen. Thus far it hasn’t stuck the landing, and Microsoft already offers its own cloud streaming service, with exclusive games, as a free add-on with Game Pass Ultimate. It does cost more than Stadia Pro, but it comes with free Xbox and PC games, an EA Play subscription, and all Xbox Gold benefits. But if you’re satisfied with Stadia’s selection, saving some money could be the way to go—at least for now.

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