Axios has unveiled a bit of interesting game development scuttlebutt about Supermassive Games’ The Quarry and Squanch Games’ upcoming title High on Life: both were reportedly set to be Google Stadia exclusives.
High-profile games starting development with one publishing or platform partner before migrating to another is fairly common happenstance in the video game industry. What isn’t common is a major platform founded by one of the world’s largest tech companies abandoning the idea of exclusive games barely two year into its lifespan, leaving such games to find new homes.
Stadia and Supermassive’s potential partnership was a previously known story. In 2020, Stadia announced an exclusive partnership with Supermassive Games. Supermassive CEO said at the time that “the features of Stadia really enhance what we see as the values of our games.”
Axios’ reporting makes it easy to put two and two together, implying that The Quarry (which is reviewing very well) was supposed to be one of the first cloud-exclusive games.
It’s interesting to look back with hindsight on this brief moment in the Google Stadia strategy, and wonder how both games could have benefitted the platform. The Quarry doesn’t demand high-latency inputs, and the 1 to cheaply and accessibly access a compelling teen horror game from the makers of Until Dawn might have been a solid anchor point for Stadia.
Conversely, High on Life is a first-person shooter, which would demand more reliable inputs, but Justin Roiland’s gross-out cult appeal could have drawn in a part of the fanbase for TV shows like Rick & Morty and Solar Opposites.
Google’s loss is everyone else’s game it would seem. Take-Two Interactive gets to have another critically acclaimed title in its portfolio, and Squanch Games now has a high-profile release on traditional video game platforms.
As for Stadia itself, Google is apparently trying to pivot the platform into being a white-label product for other publishers, letting them offer older games that can be played via browser.