Google sees a post-Stadia future in supporting live-service games

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Google is positioning itself as a go-to tech partner for live-service video game publishers as it rethinks its messaging around gaming.

Why it matters: Google presents its Cloud program as proof that it continues to invest in gaming after shutting down its Stadia platform in January.

What they say: “It was at that point when we actually had to make decisions about Stadia, that we realized that at Google Cloud, we’re at our best when we help other people build this kind of thing, not necessarily build it ourselves,” said the CEO of Google Cloud. Google Cloud. of Game Industry solutions, Jack Buser tells Axios.

  • Buser joined Google from PlayStation in 2016 as the 10th employee at Stadia, which aimed to compete with Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo by providing (and sometimes developing) games that could be played via streaming connections from remote servers, without a console or PC required in the player’s home.
  • In late 2021, Buser moved to the Google Cloud gaming team, where Google’s technology is deployed to serve third-party games running on consoles, PC, or phones.

Details: Google sells a bundle of services to game publishers with a strict focus on the operation of live-service games, the kind of games that are meant to be played and updated forever.

  • The three-part Google Cloud bundle, some of which have been offered before, includes a game-centric server platform, cloud storage data management, and searchable player and game analytics through BigQuery.
  • Google’s pitch is that its technology can reduce risk for live-service games, which are lucrative but prone to a host of technical issues, including potentially becoming overburdened by rising popularity.
  • Ubisoft, Niantic and Unity are active customers, the company says. Google is looking for other major publishers to join.

The big picture: While Google promotes its Cloud business as a strong option for game companies, it will compete with Amazon and Microsoft’s own cloud and server infrastructure.

  • But Buser’s team markets itself solely as a solution for live-service games.
  • Google, like many other companies, is putting its space in gaming ahead of the Game Developers Conference in March, an ideal time to attract customers into the field.
  • “Google is absolutely committed to games being such a big part of our coverage,” says Buser. “When we made the decision with Stadia, we were like, look, we’re committed to games as an industry.”

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