Earlier this week, Google opened its first-ever Stadia game development studio in Montreal.
Alongside the announcement, Jade Raymond, the Montreal-born head of Stadia Games and Entertainment, spoke to GamesIndustry.biz about Google’s approach to exclusive and third-party games.
At and around launch, Stadia will mostly only have third-party titles like Ghost Recon Breakpoint, The Division 2 and Red Dead Redemption 2, admits Raymond. Therefore, Raymond says Google planning to diversify its Stadia lineup in smaller ways, such as through signing “some interesting indie-style titles,” leveraging Stadia’s YouTube integration or involving a streamer in some way.
That’s not to say that Stadia will lack exclusive titles. Raymond noted that the Montreal studio is only the first that Google is planning to open, with the ultimate goal being to have multiple first-party studios working on games exclusively for Stadia. Overall, Raymond promises that there are “quite a few exclusive games in the works” at Stadia.
According to Raymond, “new exclusive, exciting content” will be coming out every year, with “more and more” releases to come over time. However, she noted that “it is a long-term view that Google is taking” and “it may be several years” to see some of the “huge new IP [intellectual property]” that it’s planning.
She also spoke about some of the ways Google is thinking about mixing Google’s different tech platforms with Stadia to offer more unique experiences.
For example, she proposed a documentary about the history of gaming that people can watch on YouTube. When the film gets to Atari, people might be able to pick up a controller and start playing through that section, thanks to Stadia integration.
Similarly, she mentioned how Google’s AI tech might greatly enhance a game, pointing to a demo shown at Google I/O where an AI assistant was able to call a stylist and book an appointment for the user in a relatively natural conversation.
“Imagine having that kind of AI powering NPCs [non-player characters] in story-based games,” Raymond mused. “Instead of having the usual quest-giver that repeats a static line of dialogue, imagine having Google Duplex-powered believable human interactions embedded in any game that has narrative.”
Finally, GamesIndustry.biz inquired about Stadia Games & Entertainment’s mentality surrounding parity across all of Stadia’s supported devices. Since the service can run across a variety of phones, tablets, computers and the like, the outlet asked Raymond whether Stadia games will be designed to perform equally across all platforms, or will there be experiences that cater to a specific device?
In response, Raymond mentioned that the mentality surrounding cross-device play has changed drastically in the past several years. She recalled that the team at Ubisoft Toronto — the studio she founded — believed console users wouldn’t want to play Splinter Cell: Blacklist against PC players due to the advantage the latter might receive with mouse and keyboard.
However, cross-play has been adopted by several major games now, including, most notably, Fortnite.
“The thing Fortnite did was prove that the most important thing for people is spending time with their friends in a way that’s convenient and fits their lifestyle and mood in that moment, in my opinion,” said Raymond.
“I think we want a different approach to thinking about games. Rather than thinking about the hardware, [we’re] thinking more about what mood people are in and what their available time is.”
Google Stadia will launch in Canada on November 19th.