Google and Amazon have discovered that making games is hard

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Google has shut down its internal Stadia game studios. According to Stadia VP, Phil Harrison, the company will shift all resources away from developing games and concentrate on providing a streaming platform where others can publish their games. Harrison cited the expense and time needed to create first-party games as a barrier.

“Creating best-in-class games from the ground up takes many years and significant investment, and the cost is going up exponentially.”

The business shake-up also means Jade Raymond, originally hired on to oversee Stadia’s game studios, is leaving to “pursue other opportunities” outside of Google. Raymond came from Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise and EA’s Motive Studios and had originally been hired in 2019 to head Stadia Games and Entertainment, but Google’s studio produced no games during its short run.

At the same time, Amazon’s foray into creating games doesn’t seem to be going much better. Bloomberg dove into the recent failures at Amazon Game Studios and came away with some insights of the bungled effort. $500 million a year has given Amazon a catastrophic misfire in Crucible, a copycat free-to-play hero shooter game that almost immediately shut down after launching.

“One of the things that we hear most often from people who try Crucible is that it feels unique.”

Its MMO, New World, changed from a survival and crafting focus with a colonizers-versus-natives theme to something a lot less racially charged, but its issues continued. After feedback from playtesting last year, the launch was pushed from August 2020 to Spring 2021.

Game development is hard. When a company like Google cites Cyberpunk 2077 as the highwater mark of its platform, you know you’ve hit trouble.