Google just poached a crucial employee from Sony's PlayStation group

Business Insider US
2018's "God of War" is the latest major hit to come out of Sony's Santa Monica Studio.
  • Sony's PlayStation 4 absolutely dominated the current video game console generation, with over 100 million PS4s sold around the world.
  • Critical to that success was Sony's lineup of major first-party games, like 2018's "God of War" reboot.
  • Much of that first-party success, including "God of War," comes directly from Sony's legendary Santa Monica Studio.
  • In a surprising coup, studio head Shannon Studstill just left for an entirely new company: She's now leading a new studio as part of Google's ambitious push into the video game industry with Google Stadia.
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The PlayStation studio head in charge of major hits like "God of War" and "Journey" announced a huge move on Wednesday: She's now leading an entirely new game studio as part of Google's push into the video game industry.

"So excited to build and support a new team of creatives @GoogleStadia!!" Shannon Studstill tweeted on Wednesday. Studstill is heading up an entirely new Stadia Games and Entertainment studio based in Playa Vista, California. Her list of bonafides is lengthy: She led production on much of the acclaimed "God of War" series, including the most recent game, in addition to a litany of smaller hits like "Journey," "Sound Shapes," and the "Twisted Metal" franchise.

The Playa Vista studio is the second game development-focused office Google started in the wake of Stadia's big announcement in March 2019, and hiring Studstill is a major coup for Google - a tech giant that has, thus far, struggled to break into the video game business.

"The new Playa Vista studio will focus on delivering exclusive games, using new gameplay mechanics, creative ways to play together and unique interaction models that we're just starting to explore," Stadia studios head and vice president Jade Raymond wrote in the Google blog post announcing the hire.

One way to play Google Stadia: On your smartphone, as long as there's a strong enough data connection.
Crystal Cox/Photographer
The company's long-rumoured push into video games arrived last November, with the launch of Google Stadia.

Google Stadia isn't a game console, nor is it a game platform, really - it's a digital storefront run by Google where you can buy individual games. It's a hugely ambitious new platform, and it aimed to be the Netflix of gaming.

What makes Stadia so ambitious? Rather than downloading games or playing them off a Blu-ray disc, Stadia streams games to you wherever you are, like Netflix streams movies and TV shows.

But the platform's launch last November was rocky at best, with missing features and a paltry game library. Reviewers told potential buyers to wait and see. Months later, and Stadia's game library remains sparse.

Worse: Indie developers told Business Insider earlier this month that they didn't publish their games to Stadia because Google wasn't offering enough money.

"We were approached by the Stadia team," one prominent indie developer told Business Insider. "Usually with that kind of thing, they lead with some kind of offer that would give you an incentive to go with them." But the incentive "was kind of non-existent," they said. "That's the short of it."

Google is promising a much bigger 2020, with "more than 120 games" scheduled to launch this year, over 10 of which are said to be exclusive to Stadia and launching in the first half.

Whether that will be enough to keep early adopters interested - let alone attract new buyers - remains to be seen.

One thing is for sure: With the length of time required to make games, we're unlikely to see the fruits of this new studio for a couple years at least.

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