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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Stadia game developers had no idea Google was killing Stadia

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The news that Stadia is shutting down is a little surprising, but no one’s cleaning spit take coffee off of their screen. The Stadia offer just never sounded very good: Here are some games you like, but with video compression, extra input lag, and other internet problems, and they cost full price, plus a subscription fee if you want 4K streaming. There were some good features, and Stadia did work as well as any game streaming can work right now, but Google really Leeroy Jenkins’d the whole thing by launching it before it was ready, cavalierly starting an in-house game studio and then axing it after a year, and making a ludicrous ad that failed to communicate why anyone should take a chance on the service.

It’s classic Google: There’s a website dedicated to memorializing products the search and advertising giant has buried. Maybe that bold willingness to fail is why Google has a market cap of over a trillion dollars and I don’t, but it’s not great for the people who trusted the company’s commitment to Stadia. Stadia users are going to lose access to their games, and although they’re getting refunds, a lot of save files are going to disappear into the void. Meanwhile, game developers who were making Stadia versions of their games have apparently been wasting their time, and based on the reactions we’re seeing, they found out that Stadia’s a goner at the same time we did. 

From disappointment to I-told-you-sos, here’s how the games industry is taking the news.

Destiny 2 game director Joe Blackburn

The developers at Stadia created a development platform that’s empowered us to continue to create and evaluate Destiny 2 from home over the past few years. I’m sure today is rough for a lot of folks, thanks for helping us make games.September 29, 2022

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Rocksteady senior gameplay programmer Aadit Doshi

To be fair, Google Stadia faced terrible odds in the past 3 years, having to deal with:- a global pandemic forcing people to turn to online entertainment.- graphic cards and console shortages, creating high demand for alternatives. If only they hit the market at a better timeSeptember 29, 2022

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(Got ’em.)

Necrosoft Games director Brandon Sheffield

I know everybody is having a great time laughing at this but stadia had the best dev revenue of any streaming service, and launching Hyper Gunsport there was going to recoup our dev costs. We were launching there in November and are now in a much tougher situation. https://t.co/ZM8MfKrc5ASeptember 29, 2022

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Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney

Google made a really solid and good-spirited effort with Stadia, supporting a lot of developers along the way. F https://t.co/ShDFbZYaOuSeptember 29, 2022

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SFB Games co-founder Tom Vian

Tangle Tower was due to launch on Stadia in 2 days time, and this article was the first I heard about it shutting down 😢 https://t.co/Pu0UPTQlRnSeptember 29, 2022

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Another game developer, Rebecca Heineman, replied to the above tweet: “We have a title coming out November 1st. Now we hear about this.” 

Game developer and consultant Rami Ismail

Part of me is just so sad at Google’s spectacular mishandling of Stadia. When it was first pitched to me, long before launch, they had so many cool ideas – but conservative strategies, a lack of trust in devs, & absolute underinvestment – it killed it. https://t.co/ykhD5qZYyNSeptember 29, 2022

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Creator, host, and accessibility advocate Steve Saylor

Super sad to see, especially for all the people working extremely hard on making this work. My heart goes out to all of them.Stadia had such huge potential. Even for accessibility, they were one of the first to list accessibility info on games in the store.Sad to see it go. https://t.co/k801OkF2dMSeptember 29, 2022

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No More Robots director Mike Rose

Oh my god https://t.co/3lX9ExEfKBWe have a game coming to Stadia in November. Who wants to guess that Google will refuse to pay us the money they owe us for itSeptember 29, 2022

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PC Gamer has contacted Google to ask for comment on what its closure means for studios that had deals with Google for Stadia games, such as Mike Rose, or who were independently working on Stadia versions of their games.

For Stadia users, the service will remain operational until January 18, 2023. Regarding save games, Google says it might be possible to hold onto progress in “some games that support cross-progression play on other platforms,” which I assume means games like Destiny 2. “For the majority of games,” however, Google says preserving progress “won’t be possible.”

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