According to Kotaku’s sources, Harrison “specifically cited the Microsoft buying spree and the planned acquisition of Bethesda Software later this year as one of the factors that made Google decide to close the original game development book.” Microsoft announced its plans to acquire Zenimax Media and Bethesda Softworks in September 2020, bringing huge franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout and Doom under its wing. It is not entirely clear what the relationship between the acquisition and Stadia’s decision is, although it can be seen as an inability to compete in the market.
Harrison was reported to have cited the COVID-19 pandemic and “rising costs of game development” as other factors in the decision. Kotaku’s report notes that studio game developers were shocked by the decision to close the studios, with Harrison by email just weeks prior to praising the “significant progress” the teams had made. Kotaku’s sources say this was a “symbol” of reported mismanagement at Stadia Studios prior to their closure.
Despite closing the first-party studio, Google recently announced that more than 100 third-party games will be added to its streaming service by the end of 2021.
Jordan Oloman is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.