There were several factors that led Google to shut down all first-party development studios of Stadia while the cloud-powered platform was in its infancy. Microsoft was apparently one of such factors involved.
According to a report by Kotaku earlier today, anonymous sources close to the matter have stated that Google Stadia vice president and general manager Phil Harrison pointed at Microsoft or rather its acquisition of ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion as one of many factors to mark the closure of first-party Stadia games.
ZeniMax Media has a number of industry-leading publishers and developers under its wing. The most notable being Bethesda Softworks which will now be working on upcoming projects like Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6 under the banner of Xbox Game Studios. Microsoft being on a massive buying spree last year makes for an unconvincing argument when it comes to the closure of first-party Stadia studios. Harrison may as well have been shoehorning the acquisition or perhaps, Microsoft being a cloud-gaming competitor of Google may have presented new challenges for a struggling and content-starved Stadia.
In his Thursday Q&A with staff, he pointed specifically to Microsoft’s buying spree and planned acquisition of Bethesda Software later this year as one of the factors that had made Google decide to close the book on original game development.
Harrison elsewhere suggested that COVID-19 was partly to blame as well. The pandemic did leave a devastating impact on development schedules worldwide but being locked inside also boosted the games industry as millions of newcomers embraced gaming to pass the time. Just how exactly COVID-19 contributed to the shut down of internal Stadia studios was not clarified.
Google will not be abandoning Stadia though, at least not yet. The subscription-based platform will still receive third-party games but the original pitch of offering first-party exclusive content has now been buried.