Bad news for all the Stadians out there: A new report claims that Google is trying to salvage its Stadia streaming service by not focusing on video games but instead looking to make deals with companies like Peleton to create playable experiences and online demos.
As spotted by The Verge, this news comes from a Business Insider report published yesterday and which paints a not-so-happy ending for Stadia. The service has apparently been “demoted” within Google with Stadia boss Phil Harrison now reporting to Google’s vice president of subscription services, instead of directly to Google’s hardware boss, Rick Osterloh. According to the report, this is characterized by insiders as a demotion for the entire Stadia service following disappointing sales and performing far below Google’s expectations.
It now seems that the plan over at Google Stadia is to focus on lucrative deals with other companies to create and power experiences for them. And oddly folks have already seen some of these deals, with a recent game found on Peleton bikes actually powered by Google Stream, reportedly the new name for Google’s Stadia technology.
According to current and former Google Stadia employees, there are some folks who still believe in the dream of playing stuff like Cyberpunk 2077 on your phone. But one person who spoke to Business Insider estimated that only about “20% of the focus” now at Stadia was on the gaming side.
“There are plenty of people internally who would love to keep it going, so they are working really hard to make sure it doesn’t die,” one source explained to Business Insider. “But they’re not the ones writing the checks.”
Google Stadia has since responded to the report, posting a Twitter thread explaining that the Stadia team is “working really hard on a great future” for the streaming service. It pointed towards 100 games added to the service in 2021, as well 50 games being offered to Pro subscribers, as proof it was far from over. It also vaguely promised more features coming soon, but didn’t elaborate on what to expect or when.
While it’s unlikely that Google will pull the plug on Stadia anytime in the near future, it’s become more and more apparent that Google’s gaming bet didn’t pay off as they had hoped.
Over the course of the last two years, Stadia has faced multiple lawsuits, made the decision to shut down its main first-party development studio with little warning, ran into issues with indie devs, and has seen key folks leaving the company. It was also revealed last year that after spending “tens of millions” of dollars to secure ports of big AAA games, like Red Dead Redemption II, Stadia underperformed at bringing in new subscribers and users by “hundreds of thousands.”
Google switching Stadia into a more commercial-focused product—one which is integrated into different experiences and demos for other companies—is probably a smart idea and a way to salvage all the tech and resources poured into the service. However, I’d recommend not buying any games on Stadia as that particular Google service now seems more destined for the graveyard than ever before.