Google Stadia Spent "Tens Of Millions Of Dollars" For Games Like Red Dead Redemption 2, Report Says

The streaming service recently ended first-party game development, shuttering its internal studios.

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Google Stadia has struggled to make much of an impact since its launch. Instead, it's finding itself more as a punchline as players continue flocking to the next-gen system. Google recently stopped first-party game development a little over a year after the service officially launched, leaving multiplatform games to fill out its library and putting its lifespan in question. This is despite spending a substantial amount of cash out of the gate to scoop up big-name games.

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Stadia boss Phil Harrison--who previously held executive positions at both Sony and Microsoft--wanted to make a big splash by paying "tens of millions of dollars" for games such as Red Dead Redemption 2 on the platform. It was a very bullish decision that, paired with exclusive games from its internal studios, would have given Google a path toward success with Stadia. The kind of sums Google was willing to pay to get those games was immense, making it an easy decision for publishers to agree. But with missing features at launch and little incentive for those who already had a game console to switch, it doesn't look like it was enough.

Harrison was part of the PlayStation at Xbox teams at arguably their lowest moments. While working as an executive for SCE Worldwide Studios, the PS3 launched and struggled with a high price point and lackluster exclusives early on. As Corporate VP at Microsoft, he was a leader for the Xbox brand in Europe when the Xbox One launched with a similar thud.

Wired was also told that Harrison wasn't being transparent with the developers at Stadia Games and Entertainment. Just days before announcing the division was shuttering, Harrison had praised the developers for the work they had been doing. Acquisitions had been made relatively recently, including purchasing Journey to the Savage Planet studio Typhoon in late 2019. It was absorbed into Stadia Games and Entertainment and was shut down with the rest of the division.

Stadia's business model is also different from some of its competitors, including Microsoft's xCloud, which may affect its ability to attract those already familiar with consoles. With an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, you can play many games on a console via download or on the go via streaming. Those interested in the former already have access to the latter, meaning they don't have to be pitched on the viability or even the performance of the latter. It also gives users access to all new first-party Xbox games without needing to purchase them, and that's something Stadia can't match without its own development teams.

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