Google Quietly Ditching Its Video Game System?

By Jason Collins | 3 months ago

Google stadia antitrust

Google really has some tough luck when it comes to its gaming platform, Stadia, as it underperformed so drastically that Google reassigned the service as a white-label platform less than a year ago. Now, it would seem that the same thing has happened again — things with Stadia aren’t going as expected. While everything seems normal and is functioning to the casual bystanders, Stadia gamers’ fears have come true: Google might be ditching Stadia altogether.

Well, not quite. According to The Verge, Google just demoted Stadia internally, shifting the service’s priorities to power the existing experiences offered by companies such as Peloton, Bungie, and Capcom, instead of adding more games to Stadia and attracting more players. So, from a gamer’s perspective, yes, things have gone south, though we’re not sure to what extent. Anyone hoping that Google’s Stadia cloud gaming platform would pull itself together and make a blazing comeback, we’re sorry to disappoint — that’s just not likely to happen.

As things currently are, only Ubisoft seems to be contributing its latest and greatest games to the platform. Internally though, the priority has shifted to a proof-of-concept work for Google Stream — Google’s old-but-renamed cloud gaming technology that caters to the aforementioned companies, like Peloton. In fact, if you own Peloton’s exercise bike, you might’ve already seen their first video game Lanebreak, which was powered by Google’s Stream. So, with proof-of-concept being the main priority within the company, only some 20% of staffing working on Stadia are actually focusing on the consumer platform.

lanebreak
Lanebreak

To make things worse, at least from a consumer’s standpoint, Google Stadia boss Phil Harrison now reports to Google’s VP of subscription services instead of directly to Google’s hardware SVP, which is a massive demotion for the entire Stadia division of Google. This isn’t really surprising considering Stadia’s subpar performance and failed internal expectations and sales targets, despite Google funneling tens of millions of dollars to secure ports for its gaming platform. Well, let none go to waste.

For the past several months, Google has successfully used Google Stadia as a white-label service, catering to companies such as Peloton, Bungie, etc. For example, the multinational conglomerate AT&T has previously confirmed that its free browser-based access to Batman: Arkham Knight ran on Stadia tech. Bungie, the game development studio credited with the Destiny series, was also looking to build its own gaming platform based on Google Stream, but the current acquisition by Sony might’ve hindered those plans.

White-labeling isn’t necessarily bad for Google Stadia, but it’s not promising to the consumers who invested their money into gaming titles featured on Google’s failing service. It’s a reason enough not to think twice but to entirely abandon the idea of obtaining games from the platform when it’s evident that Google isn’t investing in that part of the business anymore. Admittedly, having additional gaming services besides Epic Games Store and Steam would greatly benefit the gamers themselves, as it would increase the competition between the services. GOG.com is a great service, but if you’re into “retro” gaming, and the word is that Amazon might be preparing to launch its own gaming platform that would challenge Valve’s Steam.