Stadia | Former boss Phil Harrison has reportedly left Google

Stadia Phil Harrison

Stadia boss Phil Harrison, who oversaw the troubled cloud gaming platform’s launch, has quietly left Google, reports suggest.


 

Without so much as a press release or the sound of a softly closing door, Phil Harrison has quietly left Google. That’s according to a report on Business Insider, and also backed up by Harrison’s own LinkedIn profile, which describes his tenure at the tech giant in the past tense.

While at Google, Harrison oversaw the launch of the firm’s heavily-hyped cloud gaming service, Stadia – his official role there was as vice president and general manager. 

Stadia got its full launch in November 2019, and was billed as a revolution in gaming. In theory, all you needed was a subscription to the service and a device capable of running a web browser; with all that set up, you could theoretically play the latest, triple-A game in 4K and at 60 FPS.

The reality, however, was rather different. Streaming a game at 4K required considerable bandwidth, meaning that users with all but the fastest internet connections would experience lower resolutions, heavily compressed sound and inconsistent frame rates.

Cost was another concern, with a Stadia subscription costing more than its rivals’ similar offerings, such as Microsoft’s Cloud Gaming. Then there was the curiously apologetic lineup of games available at launch; there were some high-profile titles, like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Cyberpunk 2077, but few real exclusives. 

Nor were these titles particularly cheap; by the time Stadia launched, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was over a year old, yet it was still being sold at full retail price on Google’s platform. By then, physical copies were already available for a fraction of the price on the second hand market.

Harrison certainly had big plans for the platform, though. Under his aegis, Google spent millions of dollars on a dedicated Stadia gaming division, with Jade Raymond heading it up, while Typhoon Studios was snapped up as an exclusive developer for the platform. Ultimately, Stadia Games and Entertainment would survive for less than two years, with both it and Typhoon shut down in February 2021. 

By September 2022, Google announced that the axe was due to fall on Stadia itself. The platform closed for good on 18 January 2023. It’s thought that Harrison quietly bowed out of his job at Google around the same time.

Harrison’s industry has been a long and high-profile one so far, with tenures as Microsoft’s vice president and executive vice president at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. It’s currently unknown where he’ll work next.

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