A Google executive has acknowledged that the company took the wrong approach with its Stadia game streaming technology.
Speaking to Axios, Jack Buser, former director of games at Stadia and current director of Game Industry solutions at Google Cloud, reflected Google’s former and current cloud ambitions. With Stadia having shut down in January, Google has been looking to use its cloud services in different ways.
“It was at that moment when we basically had to make decisions about Stadia that we realized that, at Google Cloud, we are at our best when we’re helping other people build this stuff, not necessarily building it ourselves,” said Buser of Google’s decision to shutter Stadia. When Google originally announced Stadia’s shutdown last October, Stadia boss Phil Harrison simply said the platform “[hadn’t] gained the traction with users that we expected” without providing any further insight.
Therefore, it’s interesting to see Buser be a bit more candid about the mistakes Google made with Stadia. Indeed, many had criticized Stadia for being a platform with a lack of compelling games, features and pricing options, while game makers hesitated to embrace it due to Google’s penchant for killing its own platforms.
Instead, Google saw some success in licencing Stadia’s core tech. Whether it was Bungie leveraging the tech for remote work on Destiny 2 during the pandemic, Capcom offering an in-browser Resident Evil Village demo or AT&T’s U.S. customers being able to stream Batman: Arkham Knight, Google has found other uses for Stadia.
While Buser told Axios that these streaming options are no longer offered following Stadia’s shutdown, he noted that the company now has an updated Google Cloud bundle that offers new solutions for companies running their live service games. So far, Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed), Niantic (Pokémon Go) and game engine company Unity have come on as active clients. Given all of the issues online games can face, Google is positioning its services as a way for companies to mitigate risks associated with investing in their own tech by using Google’s own massive Cloud platform.
Google is rolling out the expanded Google Cloud suite now ahead of the Game Developers Conference later this month to entice more companies to come aboard. Overall, Buser says Google is “committed” to the industry despite Stadia’s failure.