Google’s Stadia division is continuing to bleed talent as more notable names depart

FILE PHOTO: Google vice president and general manager Phil Harrison speaks during a Google keynote address announcing a new video gaming streaming service named Stadia that attempts to capitalize on the company's cloud technology and global network of data centers, at the Gaming Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Google vice president and general manager Phil Harrison speaks during a Google keynote address announcing a new video gaming streaming service named Stadia at the Gaming Developers Conference in San Francisco

  • Google Stadia is continuing to lose top talent.
  • Its head of product recently departed the company, while six other employees have hopped over to a new studio.
  • It’s more bad news for the platform, which got off to a rocky start.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Google’s Stadia division is continuing to lose key talent, with several notable names leaving the company in recent weeks as the gaming platform struggles to take hold.

The Information reported this week that Stadia vice president and head of product, John Justice, recently left the company. Meanwhile, several other former Stadia employees have joined a new studio run by former Stadia Games & Entertainment head Jade Raymond, as spotted by a user of the Resetera gaming forum.

Google announced it had hired Raymond in 2019 to lead its SG&E division and build exclusives for its new cloud-based gaming platform. But in February of this year, Google announced it would shut the internal division and focus on working with existing developers.

Raymond, a Ubisoft veteran known for her work on the Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs franchises, announced she would leave Google at that time, while Stadia head Phil Harrison said that Google would help the SG&E team find new roles at the company.

Some staff who have joined Haven, the new studio, were part of the same SG&E team. They include former Stadia UX researcher Jonathan Dankoff, concept artists Francis Denoncourt and Erwann Le Rouzic, and the former head of Stadia creative services Corey May.

Sebastien Peul, a former Stadia general manager, is also listed as a co-founder of Raymond’s new studio on LinkedIn. While the studio is new, it has already secured an exclusive deal with Sony to develop new intellectual property for PlayStation.

Stadia got off to a rocky start, with missing features and a small number of available titles. Game developers and publishers told Insider that Google didn’t offer them enough money, while some were concerned Google wouldn’t stick with the platform in the long run.

Insider has approached Google for comment.

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Google’s Stadia gaming division reportedly missed its user goals by hundreds of thousands of gamers

Google Stadia
Playing a Stadia game.

  • Google’s Stadia gaming division missed user goals by hundreds of thousands, according to Bloomberg
  • A source told Wired they questioned whether execs “above Stadia leadership understand what they got into.”
  • Google in February announced it would stop developing in-house games for Stadia. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Google’s Stadia shut down its in-house game-development division after failing to hit targets, including apparently missing its monthly active user goal by hundreds of thousands of gamers, according to new reports examining the project. 

Google on February 1 announced it was abandoning its effort to create video games in-house after less than two years. Its Stadia Games & Entertainment division, responsible for creating the games, would be shuttered, the company said

“We’ve decided that we will not be investing further in bringing exclusive content from our internal development team SG&E, beyond any near-term planned games,” Phil Harrison, Stadia VP, wrote in a blog post.

On Friday, Bloomberg reported that the division hadn’t met internal company goals for active users and controller sales. Both were off by hundreds of thousands, according to the report, which cited two unnamed sources. 

Wired on Friday also published a deeper look into where the Stadia development project went wrong. The report said Google planned to hire 2,000 people in five years. The company ended up shuttering the project and reportedly laying off about 150 game developers. 

There seemed to be a disconnect between the way game developers usually work – testing games internally and releasing them as close to their final form as possible – and the way Google creates products, with beta versions and many iterations, according to the reports. 

One Stadia employee told Wired: “I question how much the execs above Stadia leadership understand what they got into – the commitments made and over commitments and the inability to keep those commitments.”

Google announced Stadia in November 2019, saying it would launch a Netflix-like video-game platform and a new controller. It would also create its own games, it said. But Stadia said in early February that it would stop development on new games, while continuing to launch third-party games.

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

Insider has reached out to Google for comment. 

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How to play Google Stadia on your phone, computer, or TV

Google Stadia game controller
There are several ways to play Google Stadia.

  • You can play Stadia on an Android phone, an iPhone or iPad, a computer with Google Chrome, or a TV with a Chromecast Ultra installed.
  • To play Stadia on your Android phone, you’ll need to install the Stadia app, which is free to download.
  • On iPhone and iPad, you’ll need to go to the Stadia website using Safari or another internet app.
  • Stadia can be played directly from your Chrome browser on a computer, no installation required.
  • Mobile devices and computers support a variety of controllers, but to play Stadia on a TV with a Chromecast Ultra, you’ll need to be using the Stadia Controller.
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Stadia, Google’s new cloud-based gaming platform, was built to be “platform-agnostic.” In other words, you can play Stadia on dozens of different devices, and have largely the same experience on each one.

That said, for many newcomers to the platform, it isn’t immediately clear just which platforms can run Stadia. So aside from a solid internet connection – a must-have for any streaming setup – how can you play Stadia?

In short, Stadia is available on most popular Android phones, new iPhones and iPads, any computer with Google Chrome, and TVs with a Chromecast Ultra plugged in. And if you’re using a phone or computer, you probably won’t even need a new game controller.

Here’s a guide to the hardware you’ll need to play Stadia, so you can get started streaming your favorite games right away.

How to play Stadia on an Android phone

Stadia supports most Google Pixel phones, all new Samsung S phones, most OnePlus phones, and more. On most modern Android devices – 6.0 and later – you’ll simply need to download the Stadia app to get started playing.

You can download the Stadia app from the Google Play Store for free. Once you open it, you’ll be prompted to connect your Google account, and then set up your Stadia profile. Or, if you already have a Stadia profile, you can just sign in.

Like all platforms, you won’t need to download any games from Stadia – they’re streamed to you over the internet – so don’t worry about deleting photos to make room for it.

All Stadia games played on Android support touchscreen controls, but you can also use a real gamepad, as we’ll outline in a bit.

8   How to play Stadia
You can play Stadia on a phone with your hands or a controller.

How to play Stadia on an iPhone or iPad

Although there is a Stadia app for iPhones, you can’t actually play Stadia games through it – you can only sign up for Stadia and set up your controller. This is due to a long-running rivalry between Google and Apple.

Instead, if you want to play Stadia on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll need to play through an internet browser. Here, we’ll use Safari, the default internet app that comes installed on every Apple device.

 

Just note that you’ll have to be running at least iOS 14.3 or iPadOS 14.3. Any version older than that can’t support Stadia.

1. Launch Safari on your iPhone or iPad and head to the Stadia website. Once there, sign into your Stadia account or tap “Try now” to create a new one.

2. After you log in, a pop-up will appear telling you that you can play in your browser, but warning you that the iOS version of Stadia is in beta. Tap “Got It,” and you’ll be shown your games.

IMG_7257.PNG
The iOS and iPadOS versions of Stadia are still in development.

3. Tap the red play button under any game’s picture to start playing it, or tap “Store” at the top to browse for new games.

IMG_7259
You can launch the game right from Safari.

And although you can’t play from the official Stadia app, you can add the Stadia website to your iPhone’s homescreen as a shortcut that looks just like any other app. To do this, scroll up, and then tap the sharing icon in the middle of the toolbar at the bottom of Safari. When a menu of options appears, tap “Add to Home Screen.”

How to play Stadia on a computer

Stadia can be run through Google Chrome on Mac, PC, and Linux computers. 

Using the Google Chrome web browser, simply use your Google account credentials to set up a new Stadia account, or sign into an existing one.

Once you’ve signed in, you can start playing games directly from your browser. Just note that Stadia requires most games to be played in fullscreen mode, and for some, will need access to your computer’s microphone.

You can connect a controller from within your browser by clicking the controller icon in the top-right, selecting which controller you want to use, and then following the directions.

3   How to play Stadia
Google will offer directions to connect each type of controller.

How to play Stadia on a TV with a Chromecast Ultra

If you’re a gamer who loves to use the biggest screen in your house, this setup is the one for you.

To play Stadia on your TV, you’ll need the following: A TV with an HDMI port, a Google Chromecast Ultra device, and a Stadia Controller.

First, plug the Chromecast Ultra into your TV and set it up. The Chromecast Ultra comes with its own Ethernet port – for the best Stadia experience, use this port and an Ethernet cable to link the Chromecast to your internet router.

Once you’ve done that, press the Stadia logo on your controller to put it into Linking Mode. 

A code should appear on your TV screen – it’ll look like a random combination of buttons on your controller.

1   How to play Stadia copy
Stadia controllers will need to be linked through a code.

Enter the code on your Stadia Controller and wait for your Chromecast to detect your controller. If the link is successful, Stadia will launch on your TV. If it’s unsuccessful, you’ll have to enter the code again.

If you don’t see a linking code appear on your TV, this might mean that your Chromecast isn’t set to “Ambient Mode.” To fix this:

1. Open the Google Home app on your smartphone and tap the icon for your Chromecast Ultra.

2. In the top-right corner, tap “Settings.” It may also look like a gear icon.

3. Under “Device Info,” tap “Ambient Mode.”

4. A new screen will appear. Scroll down until you find “Stadia Controller linking code” – click “Show” underneath it. The linking code will appear on your TV.

If you’re having issues connecting your Chromecast to Wi-Fi, the Google Home app can help with that too. If the controller won’t connect to Wi-Fi, you’ll need to use the Stadia app.

You can also cast Stadia onto your TV using the mobile Stadia app, or your computer’s Chrome browser.

Although playing with the Chromecast Ultra offers the least flexibility in terms of controller support, Google has hinted that more controllers might support it in the future.

In the meantime, you can purchase a Stadia Controller for $69, or for $100 get the Stadia Premiere bundle that includes both a controller and Chromecast Ultra.

All the controllers that work with Google Stadia

We’ve mentioned several times that the Stadia Controller isn’t the only way to play Stadia. If you’re using a smartphone, tablet, or your computer, you can use a variety of popular controllers.

Here’s a full guide to which controllers work for which systems.

 

To use non-Stadia controllers on your computer or phone, you can connect them like you would any other controller. For examples, check out some of our articles on the subject:

Other controllers, like the Switch Pro controller, can be connected in similar ways. Also note that the method for connecting controllers to an iPad is almost exactly the same as on an iPhone.

You should be able to use a keyboard and mouse in Stadia’s browser version just by plugging them in.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

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