Noah Falstein has left his post as Google's Chief Game Designer after four years with the company, making the announcement official in a post on his blog. Falstein explains that he's leaving because "the opportunity to actually build the big, consequential games" had "failed to materialize".
While you might be thinking "Why would Google design games themselves?", keep in mind the historical context at the time of Falstein's hiring. Back in 2013, Google was still the parent company for a little game developer named Niantic, which had just released the innovative augmented reality game Ingress (opens in new tab) the year before. Falstein brings over 30 years of game development and design experience to the table — an ideal candidate if Google had set goals to foster development of new, innovative gaming initiatives from within.
But it became apparent those gaming initiatives would never come to pass. During the Alphabet restructuring of 2015, Niantic became an independent company and went on to create the wildly popular Pokemon Go, which continues to garner awards and acclaim while still pulling in over 65 million users monthly. Meanwhile, aside from one-off titles like Tilt Brush and smaller scale experimental games like Quick, Draw! and the regular Google doodle games and gaming-related April Fools' Day easter eggs, Google does not appear to have any intentions on designing the big, consequential games that drew Falstein's attention in the first place.
Here's Falstein's statement in full from April 6, 2017:
Marc Lagace was an Apps and Games Editor at Android Central between 2016 and 2020. You can reach out to him on Twitter [@spacelagace.
This is when a company gets too big that they don't know where to focus anymore.
I agree with you.
If making a T. Rex jump over cactuses in a Chrome window isn't big and consequential, I don't know what is.
Passion wins every time!
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