Google has reportedly started quietly deprioritizing Google Stadia, and exploring new ways to integrate its streaming tech into other areas of its business.
According to Business Insider (paywalled, transcribed by VGC), since announcing the closure of its internal studios last year, Google has “shifted the focus of its Stadia division largely to securing white-label deals with partners that include Peloton, Capcom, and Bungie, according to people familiar with the plan”.
The publication goes on to claim that the company is “shopping the technology to partners under a new game: Google Stream”.
Google is reportedly attempting to “salvage” the technology that allows players to stream games such as Destiny 2, Red Dead Redemption 2 and more at low latency.
The report claims that the Stadia consumer platform, meanwhile, has been “deprioritized” within Google and that the company has a “reduced interest in negotiating blockbuster third-party titles.”
One of the new homes for the Stadia technology is reportedly the fitness giant Peloton, which it’s claimed is a focus of Google’s efforts. This would allow users with Peloton bikes to play games while on the machines.
A more traditional gaming partner, Bungie, has also been in discussions with Google. Part of Google’s pitch was reportedly for Destiny to become “a platform of its own”. It’s unclear how Sony‘s recent $3.6 billion acquisition of Bungie will affect these negotiations.
Capcom, publisher of Resident Evil and Monster Hunter, is also said to be in talks with Google about potential integrations with the Stadia technology. This would include running demos for upcoming Capcom titles on its website.
Player retention is reportedly a “huge problem” for Google Stadia. Business Insider reports that “(Phil) Harrison and other executives set a goal to reach 1 million monthly active users by the end of 2020, which they missed by about 25%, according to a person familiar with the conversations.”
Phil Harrison, a veteran of the video games industry who has worked at Microsoft and Sony, has been the face of Google Stadia since its unveiling in 2019.
Google announced Stadia at GDC in March 2019
Ongoing industry consolidations is reportedly a big worry for the Google executive team. “When Microsoft announced in 2020 that it would acquire the Elder Scrolls studio Bethesda, it ‘scared the crap out of Google executives,’ a former employee close to those conversations said.”
In a response to Business Insider’s report, Google said: “The Stadia team is working really hard on a great future for Stadia and cloud gaming. We hope you agree, and we know the proof is in the playing.”
Last year Google decided to close all its internal game development teams in order to focus on partnering with third-party studios.
The decision was followed by several high profile departures. They included former Stadia games boss Jade Raymond, who left to form a new studio called Haven, which is backed by PlayStation and has since hired six more former Stadia employees.
Questioned last summer during the ongoing Epic vs Apple court case, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said the Google Stadia service has been “significantly cut back”, as he understands it.