Google Stadia is the future of the company's gaming endeavors, but according to vice president and general manager Phil Harrison, the notion of a gaming console is firmly in the tech giant's past. According to Harrison, a Google console will never see the light of day, as the company simply has no interest in pursuing that particular corner of the video game market.
Stadia is Google's streaming device, the long-awaited successor to the Project Stream tests the company conducted last year that allowed users to access and play Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed Odyssey through the Google Chrome web browser. There are still a lot of unknowns about Stadia, including a price point and the burden the technology may have on users data caps in practice, but it's becoming abundantly clear that it will never be a Google console.
In fact, according to Harrison, a Google console simply won't be happening, period. The long-time veteran of the gaming industry has been an executive at both Sony and Microsoft and has extensive experience with the console market as a result. That's why it was so shocking that, during an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, the face of the Stadia platform was so candid about Google's opinion on console gaming:
"We are absolutely firm that we are not, will not, and will never release a console."
When executives discuss the future initiatives of their tech companies, they're typically a lot more coy about what's on the horizon. Even if there are no plans, teasing it is often safer than outright confirming or denying interest, since it can backfire later. Harrison's vehement assurance that the company will "absolutely" never release a Google console is a strong statement not only about Google's future plans, but about how the company views the future of console gaming as a whole. Of course, Harrison was quick to point out that it's just Google's stance, and that other companies will have to decide for themselves what gaming post-Stadia might look like. Here's what he said when asked about whether the time of consoles is coming to an end:
"That's a question for the console companies. That is not our business. Our business is a streaming platform where the data centre is your platform. What that means for the future of games - and this is not just our point of view, there are others who see streaming as the future - it means that, yes, you democratize any screen and we see being screen-agnostic as the way to play games."
It's interesting to note that Harrison made a point of stating that "others" see streaming as the future. Google has obviously been in talks with a slew of publishers and developers over the course of preparing Stadia for its reveal, and it has obviously integrated a lot of their concerns or feedback into the platform model we see today. It's possible Harrison knows many developers are excited by this prospect and want to work on games built for Stadia specifically - or, perhaps, Harrison still has a decent idea of what's going on at Microsoft, and is merely referring to the fact that the company is gearing up for its own streaming-related E3 announcement later this year.
Whatever the truth may be, there's at least one burning question about Google that we no longer need to ask - there will never be a Google console. The company is all in on Stadia, and that means attempting to carve out its own spot in the gaming industry rather than competing for someone else's.