Another executive has left Google Stadia and this time it is John Justice, vice president and head of product of Stadia at Google. Together with Phil Harrison, Justice was the face of the project, giving regular interviews and speaking to the press. Justice has not yet updated his LinkedIn profile, but following a report from The Information, Google told 9to5Google: “We can confirm that John is no longer with Google and we wish him the best of luck in his next step.”
This latest departure is just another sign that Google’s game streaming service is circling the drain. A February Bloomberg report revealed that the service missed Google’s internal sales estimates by “hundreds of thousands” of users. Shortly before the release of that report, Google closed its own game studio, Stadia Games and Entertainment, after less than two years of operation, due to high operating costs. This move led to Stadia’s other high-profile departure, the departure of Assassin’s Creed co-creator Jade Raymond.
Justice’s last major media hit was a video interview with The Escapist in December. This interview from just six months ago shows how quickly Stadia collapsed at Google, with Justice talking about internal projects led by Raymond and saying that “over time we will continue to do more and more internal games.” Two months later, all those plans would be canceled.
Employees were shocked by the closure of the Stadia studio, as Phil Harrison said just a week earlier that Stadia was “making great strides in building a diverse and talented team and establishing a strong lineup of exclusive Stadia games. ” A Kotaku report said Harrison fired all employees a week later, “part of a clear pattern in which Stadia leadership was not fair and candid with the company’s developers.”
Angry employees told the site that the move was mind-boggling, and one ex-employee told Kotaku, “If you started this studio and hire a hundred of these people, no one is going to start making it go away in a year or so. Don’t make a game that time… We were reassured for years, and now not anymore.”
After the game studio shut down, Google seemed to indicate a strategy change for Stadia. Google’s blog post states that the company is looking for a “path to build Stadia into a long-term sustainable business that helps the industry grow”, indicating that its current strategy of selling games to customers is not ” sustainable business”. The post highlighted Google’s “platform technology” that could help studios deliver games “directly” from publishers (as opposed to through the Stadia store?) Stadia’s advanced technical infrastructure and platform tools.”