On February 1, 2020, Vice President and General Manager of Google Stadia Phil Harrison announced that the game streaming platform will focus its efforts on third party games and close down their first-party titles. This change affected 150 developers as they departed the company at the same time as the announcement. Harrison shared the direction that the company would be going in a blog post, stating that Stadia would become a storefront for cross-platform titles.
Some may question that this will lead to Stadia being shut down eventually. Still, with this announcement, Stadia’s focus seems to be fighting a different fight, and that is against the likes of Nvidia GeForce. Nvidia GeForce is a game streaming platform that connects to other storefronts such as GOG.com, Steam, and Epic Games. Google can take a similar approach and become another game streaming platform that allows major storefronts to connect games to Stadia for streaming.
Potential Stadia Partners
When it comes to the technology behind Stadia, it has some of the best technology amongst all of the streaming technology. Stadia was even praised as one of the best places to play Cyberpunk 2077 by many major publications. Stadia’s technology is top tier, and now it is a matter of what’s next?
Nintendo has explored utilizing game streaming for games that are too demanding for the Switch hardware with Hitman and Control. The company currently uses Ubitus to bring the Cloud Version of those high demanding games to the Switch. However, Google and Nintendo are known for their unique partnerships in the past, and the Nintendo Switch would be the perfect platform for Google to bring their streaming technology to. One of the Switch’s major issues is the lack of third-party games, and cloud streaming could easily solve that problem.
Yes, the Microsoft and Sony partnership is still a thing and leads to Sony utilizing Microsoft’s cloud services for their projects. Still, with Stadia not being a true threat to either company, the idea of Sony and Google partnering for cloud streaming would be amazing for Sony. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has mentioned that his focus for the future of gaming is Google and Amazon and that in part is probably due to the aspect of money, with Google seemingly out of the picture when it comes to establishing a platform to compete directly against Xbox, that is one less company to worry about. On the other hand, Sony can utilize what Stadia offers and be more competitive in the cloud streaming space.
When Sony bought Gaikai, they pretty much fumble what could have been their way into leading the charge of cloud gaming. Ironically enough, Stadia’s General Manager used to sit on Gaikai’s advisory board, and Jack Buser ran Sony’s Playstation Now before heading to Google. So the relationship is there, and Stadia’s technology is miles ahead of what Gaikai had to offer. This would be perfect for Sony to consider in the near future.
If Stadia executives decide to let the service be just another platform for developers to put games on, then the future of Stadia is grim. Stadia can have a future, but to be another platform with a low player base does not bode well as devs tend to focus on platforms with a more extensive player base. The technology is there; now, it is about how to utilize the tech since the strategy has changed drastically?