Two years ago, I wrote a reasonably prescient editorial about how the writing was on the wall for Google’s cloud gaming service Stadia — and how the company was now hoping to sell its white label streaming technology to other companies instead of building out its own Netflix of games.
But it seems that, when Google killed off Stadia, it threw away that technology, too.
Google executive Jack Buser has now admitted that the company is no longer offering the white label version of Stadia that allowed companies like AT&T and Capcom to let anyone try games like Batman: Arkham Knight, Control, and a demo of Resident Evil Village for free over the internet, not to mention the first game from Peloton.
“We are not offering that streaming option, because it was tied to Stadia itself,” he told Axios’ Stephen Totilo. “So unfortunately, when we decided to not move forward with Stadia, that sort of offering could no longer be offered as well.”
Google called the white label version “Immersive Stream for Games” and sometimes “Google Stream” and, to my knowledge, it was only ever used in experiments like the ones I link above. In AT&T’s case, they were limited to its own internet subscribers. Maybe they weren’t that successful? When we spoke to AT&T about cloud gaming following those experiments, the carrier didn’t seem that bullish about serving up more games itself.
I’m a little skeptical of the idea that Google needed to ax its white label attempts at the same time it axed Stadia, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the company decided to write off its investment for tax benefits instead of keeping the tech around. Entire finished movies and TV shows are getting axed by companies like Warner Bros. Discovery during the economic downturn — if there isn’t a lot of interest in cloud gaming right now, perhaps it’s easier to let it go. When the technology is ready to make cloud gaming disappear, that’ll be another chance to do it right.
The weird part about this news: Totilo’s interview was actually part of Google’s new push around cloud gaming — just not the cloud gaming you’re thinking of. Buser, formerly Stadia’s director of games and the man who ran Sony’s PlayStation Home, is now trying to sell a variety of Google Cloud tools to help companies run their live service games. But he’s also in the unenviable position of having almost all search results for “Google cloud gaming” point to the failed Stadia service.
Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about whether the company’s done with cloud gaming, period.