Report: Google Shifts Focus to Licensing Stadia Tech as Consumer Service Stumbles

Google announced Stadia in grand fashion back in 2019, promising unique experiences that were only possible in the cloud. It opened up to all users in 2020 at the height of the pandemic lockdowns, but it was all downhill from there. With game publishing becoming increasingly consolidated, Google has apparently changed tactics. Business Insider reports that almost all of Google’s work on Stadia revolves around licensing the technology. If true, Stadia’s days as a consumer-facing platform are numbered. 

According to sources inside the company, Google has branded its white-label Stadia efforts “Google Stream,” harkening back to the Project Stream moniker used during the initial beta test. The company’s goal is to offer firms a complete end-to-end solution for streaming games to their customers. Google would allow businesses to completely control the content and branding in such deals. This work allegedly accounts for about 80 percent of the team’s focus. The consumer side of Stadia was essentially reduced to one of Google’s “20 percent time” projects.

Before Sony snapped up Bungie last week, Google was reportedly in late-stage discussions with the company to license Google Stream. Bungie, which publishes the Destiny franchise on Stadia and other platforms, may not be interested now that it’s joining Sony. Capcom has been offered a similar deal. We’ve already seen what form this and other deals would take, though. Last year, Google licensed Stadia to AT&T, allowing it to stream a Batman game to its wireless subscribers. That title has never come to the Stadia store. Outside of normal gaming circles, BI says Google is courting Peleton in hopes of getting Stadia content on the company’s exercise bikes. 

As time goes on, Google’s Stadia regret is becoming ever more obvious. It launched the service with promises of first-party games from its Stadia Games & Entertainment studio. However, it abruptly closed the studio a year ago, and the supply of AAA games from other publishers has not increased as promised. Apparently, there is no appetite at Google to spend big to get these titles, and exclusives are entirely out of the question, according to BI. All we’re likely to get is a continuous stream of small indie games. 

AT&T licensed Stadia tech to stream a Batman game last year. Get ready for more of this.

This is not a question of money — Google is choosing to functionally abandon Stadia as a consumer service. As of last year, Google had almost $150 billion in cash. If it wanted to make Stadia work, it has the money to invest in content. It seems to the outside observer that Google doesn’t want to run that kind of gaming business. If it did, the Stadia games studio would still exist. 

If anything, the Great Gaming Consolidation has proven that you need first-party content to survive as a user-facing platform. The report claims Google fell 25 percent short of its goal of having a million active users at the end of 2021, which is no surprise. This poor showing could accelerate plans for Google Stream, pulling even more resources away from the Stadia platform. When reached for comment, Google didn’t deny the substance of the report, saying it is “still focused on bringing great games to Stadia in 2022.”

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