Google is expanding its internal game development efforts with a new studio located in the Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles, Stadia Games and Entertainment chief Jade Raymond announced on Wednesday. The team, which will be dedicated to producing original titles for the cloud gaming service, will be led by longtime studio head Shannon Studstill who was formerly the head of the venerated Santa Monica Studio that developed the God of War franchise for Sony. (SIE Santa Monica Studio is also located in Playa Vista.)
“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,” Raymond said in a statement. “While we’re not ready to share specific game plans yet, rest assured we are listening to what gamers want and adding our own Stadia twists to create new IP and experiences.”
This is Google’s second game development studio outside its initial Montreal office
Studstill is leading up one of two separate studios under the Stadia Games and Entertainment banner. The other is located in Montreal, although Google has not publicly disclosed who is running that studio at this time. That said, it makes sense for Google to set up shop in both California and Canada. Both are in game development hubs, with LA being home to countless studios, including big names like Blizzard Entertainment, and Montreal being a Canadian nexus for the international teams of big publishers like Ubisoft and Warner Bros.
Stadia first launched last November, but it hasn’t quite taken the gaming industry by storm as some anticipated the cloud service might. Instead, its game selection has remained small, and Google has yet to open the doors to the planned free tier of Stadia that would theoretically make it much more accessible. So it’s clear Google wants to make its platform more attractive, and one way to do that is to launch exclusive games, presumably titles that take advantage of the cloud gaming benefits Stadia is supposed to provide both developers and players.
Right now, the only way to play the service is to get a buddy pass from a registered user or purchase access to a Stadia Pro subscription, which can only be done by buying the $129 Premiere Edition bundle that includes the company’s custom Stadia controller, a Chromecast Ultra for playing games on a television set, and three months of Stadia Pro. After that, the subscription costs $10 a month and grants access to 4K streaming, among other benefits like monthly free games.