According to Kotaku’s sources, Harrison “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.” Microsoft announced its plans to acquire Zenimax Media and Bethesda Softworks in September 2020, bringing blockbuster franchises such as The Elder Scrolls, Fallout and Doom under its wing. It’s not entirely clear what the connection between the acquisition and Stadia’s decision is, although it could be seen as an inability to compete in the market.
Harrison reportedly mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic and “the rising costs of game development” as other factors in the decision. Kotaku’s report notes that the studio’s game developers were shocked by the decision to close the studios, as just weeks before they had been praised by Harrison via email for the “great progress” made by the teams. Kotaku’s sources say this was “emblematic” of the reported mismanagement at Stadia’s studios prior to their closure.
Despite the first-party studio closures, Google recently announced that more than 100 third-party games would be added to its streaming service by the end of 2021.
Jordan Oloman is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.