Google Stadia’s short life was littered with baffling decisions, but a new report suggests an especially eyebrow-raising one. Google apparently had an exclusive sequel to PlayStation hit Death Stranding lined up, but killed the project in 2020.
According to 9to5Google’s (opens in new tab) source, in 2019 Google greenlit a Death Stranding follow-up from legendary designer Hideo Kojima only to cancel it after the first mockups arrived a year later.
While the original game was built on asynchronous multiplayer where objects can appear in other players’ worlds based on your actions, the sequel would have been purely solo. And the source believes it was this single-player focus that led to the cancellation with Google firm in its belief that only multiplayer experiences were worth pursuing.
It’s worth noting that Stadia was led by Phil Harrison at the time, and as early as 2008 he was suggesting that single-player games had had their day.
“I just don't think consumers want to be playing games that don't have some kind of network connectivity to them, or some kind of community embedded in them, or some kind of extension available through downloadable content,” he told Eurogamer (opens in new tab) when he was working at Atari.
The timeline also seems to mesh with what Kojima was himself saying. In 2020 he did an interview with Livedoor (opens in new tab) in which he said he was “a little annoyed that a big project has just fallen through the cracks” [machine translated].
Of course, it’s doubtful that a Death Stranding sequel alone would have saved Stadia from its fate. With its seven hours’ worth of cutscenes, it certainly wasn’t for everyone, and even if it were, it’s hard to know if it would have arrived before Google decided to shut up shop.
Assuming the source is correct, the big question is whether the project is lost forever, or whether any of it will see the light of day elsewhere. The good news is that there are signs that the latter is true.
First of all, there are strong suggestions that a full Death Stranding sequel is in development. Back in May (opens in new tab), Norman Reedus — star of TV and the first game — claimed that “we just started the second one” when asked about his role in Death Stranding.
Kojima himself seemed to all but confirm this the very next day, tweeting a series of pictures of himself with Reedus and the caption “Go to your private room, my friend” — a reference to the story of game.
“Go to your private room,my friend“👍😍 pic.twitter.com/jBTDqhQSLIMay 21, 2022
Secondly, it’s possible that Kojima may have taken some of the ideas to one of Google’s former cloud gaming rivals, Microsoft. At the Xbox and Bethesda showcase back in June, Kojima discussed a game he’d always wanted to create that would now be made exclusively with Xbox Game Studios.
“It’s a completely new game, one that no one has ever experienced or seen before,” he teased. “I’ve waited a very long time for the day when I could finally start to create it. With Microsoft’s cutting-edge cloud technology and the change in the industry's trend, it has now become possible to challenge myself to make this never-before-seen concept.”
We’ll have to see exactly what kind of concepts this cloud-heavy approach could offer, But if it truly is a game changer then we might be left wondering what might have been for Stadia if it had prioritized things differently in the years when Google was still fully invested.