It seems that Google is doing some Spring cleaning and it’s not looking for its employees and ventures. It was recently reported that Google was cutting down on the number of people working on its laptops and tablets and now something more drastic is happening on the VR front. According to a leaked email from Spotlight Stories executive producer Karen Dufilho, Google is shutting down the six-year-old studio that has become associated with the tech giant’s VR marketing efforts.
Spotlight Stories didn’t start out as a VR studio. It was part of Motorola’s once famous Advanced Technologies and Products or ATAP researching and experimenting on taking storytelling to a new mobile age. Under Google’s more direct management, it was eventually transitioned to focusing on VR content.
The studio had its highlights, especially when “Pearl” was nominated for an Academy Award and won an Emmy in 2017 for Outstanding Innovation in Interactive Programming. It wasn’t, however, a profitable endeavor but not through any fault of its own.
Despite having invested substantially in it, Google never actually gave the studio orders to monetize its work. It was simply one of Google’s many expensive experiments, not all of which became businesses, much less money-making ones. More importantly, while Spotlight Stories did showcase what could be experienced in VR, it didn’t push the technology and the industry forward either.
Like with the Pixelbook and Pixel Slate employees, studio staffers were encouraged to look around the company for job opportunities. While it may not have any direct impact on Google’s other VR project, it does put a spotlight, pun intended, on the company’s wavering commitment to the technology.