Why Google Stadia Failed to Load

Stadia's first-party games are no more

  • Google announced it would stop making in-house games for its Stadia gaming platform.
  • Experts say the gaming development side’s shutdown results from a lack of content and too much ambition.
  • The Google Stadia platform can still succeed on its own if Google invests more in its infrastructure and technology.
The new Google Stadia gaming system controller is displayed during a Google launch event on October 15, 2019 in New York City.
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

A lack of content and too much ambition led Google Stadia to shut down its internal development team, Stadia Games and Entertainment (SG&E), experts say.

A little less than two years after announcing SG&E, Google said it would stop making its own games for the Stadia platform. While the platform remains the sole focus for Google in terms of gaming, experts say Google’s ambitions to become a leader in creating gaming content in-house fell short.

"Stadia’s main problem for Google was the lack of content," wrote Jack Adams, a content writer at servers.com, to Lifewire in an email. "The best technology in the world would struggle to convince gamers if there are no games to play."

Google’s Big Ambitions 

Google officially launched Google Stadia in November 2019 as a cloud-based gaming platform to act as a game streaming service of sorts. The appeal is you can play games without the need for a console, like a Playstation 5 or an Xbox Series X/S

Part of Google Stadia was the creation of exclusive original games for the platform to provide players with more unique content. While Google said it wouldn’t invest further in future content beyond "any near-term planned games," the company ultimately shut down its development team without releasing a single original title.

Experts say Google was too eager to roll out the Stadia platform and that it should have waited until it was able to have a substantial collection of its own games.

Jade Raymond, head of Google's Stadia, speaks during the GDC Game Developers Conference on March 19, 2019 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

"Google should have let its creative teams find their feet and call the shots on the games they worked on while delaying Stadia until it had some games of its own to show off," Adams said. 

Others say that, ultimately, Google—being a Big Tech company, after all—was far too confident that it could pull off making its own games successfully in the short amount of time and limited experience it had.

"Running a game studio is a high-risk, high-reward operation. And much like running a Hollywood studio, you have to be willing to invest a lot of money in a portfolio of games," Dmitri Williams, an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, told Lifewire in a phone interview. "Also like Hollywood, [the games] are not going to all be hits."

"The best technology in the world would struggle to convince gamers if there are no games to play."

While other Big Tech companies are branching out into various industries like self-driving vehicles and even conquering space, Google’s interest in the gaming industry didn’t necessarily mean it would succeed in that sector. 

"Even though it is Google, it didn't have a very large operation—it is not the equivalent of Sony or Paramount," Williams said. "It’s strange to say this about Google, but its scope was too limited, and it wasn’t thinking big enough to fill its whole platform."

The Future of Google Stadia 

Even without its own in-house games, Stadia can still very much exist without Google-made content, experts say. Take, for example, its successful rollout of Cyberpunk 2077 late last year.

"This is like if Netflix stopped making Netflix shows, but still had its streaming platform…it’s still going to be successful," Williams said.

Williams added that Google Stadia’s cloud-based platform still has plenty of promise, since it allows users to play games without the use of expensive consoles, making it much cheaper to play. 

"The platform is still a really big deal and is a viable business that is arguably the future of gaming," Williams said. "These are incredibly powerful technologies that threaten the console business entirely."

Google vice president and general manager Phil Harrison shows the new Stadia controller as he speaks during the GDC 2019
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

However, there are still a few kinks to work out on Stadia’s platform before more gamers can favor it over traditional consoles. Even from its early beginnings, there have been concerns about Stadia’s connection issues, because of the service’s infrastructure.

Of course, with broadband access continuing to progress in the US (according to a recent report from BroadbandNow), Stadia eventually could catch up with the technology to finally make it a success.

"There have been a number of attempts at running (gaming) streaming services, and as the technology has become more advanced, it's become much more realistic," Williams said.

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