Stadia Sudden Shutdown Blindside employees, developers and Bungie

A Stadia controller sinks into a black-and-white photo of the ocean as people flee on lifeboats.

photo: Hulton Archives / Stringer / Kotaku (Getty Images)

Few thought that Stadia, Google’s ailing streaming service, could ever become a dominant player in the gaming industry, but almost nobody expected it switched off so abruptly, including its own employees. Stadia vice president Phil Harrison, who has quickly become the Grim Reaper of new gaming initiatives, broke the news to employees around the same time everyone else was hearing about it through a public blog post. The work they’d been doing up until this moment has suddenly become irrelevant, while developers in the midst of porting their games to Stadia still have no idea what’s next.

Tangle tower was supposed to be out on Stadia in two days, and this article was the first I heard about it being shut down,” said Tom Vian, one half of snipper clips studio sfb games, tweeted yesterday. Other developers felt similarly depressed. “We have a title coming out on November 1st,” Rebecca Heineman replied. “Now we hear about it.”

The studios have partner managers at Stadia who help with porting games, certifying them, and any other issues that may arise while working together. Many had only spoken to their colleagues this week and there was no indication anything was wrong. “We had signed a deal and were working towards a release on Stadia/Stadia Pro Arctic Awakening in 2023,” said James Simpson, founder of GoldFire Studios kotaku. “We just got in touch [our partner manager] Some next steps were implemented earlier in the week, so there was no indication that anything would change.”

Publisher No More Robots found itself in a similar situation. “We have a game scheduled there Heist Simulator scheduled to come out of Early Access in 2023, so our recent development for it on Stadia was obviously pointless,” spokesman Mike Rose wrote in an email. “We should start too football history on Stadia in November, and with that comes money that we’re supposed to receive. We might still see this, but since we literally can’t release on Stadia anymore, I’m not holding my breath!”

One reason developers probably didn’t get a hint to stop working on Stadia projects was that even many Stadia employees had no idea what was in store for them. Shortly after yesterday’s public announcement, someone claimed to be a Google employee shared a screenshot on Reddit a meeting invitation from Harrison. “We’re going to be having a Stadia team meeting today, September 29th at 8:30am PT to share some important news with everyone,” it began. The major update turned out to be Google killing Stadia early next year, according to two current employees who wish to remain anonymous because they weren’t authorized to speak to the press about company matters.

“It’s a strange experience when you start your workday and realize that the feature you’ve been working on for more than six months and are about to launch is no longer relevant,” says Google engineer Peter Elst tweeted today. “Last but not least, it puts things in perspective, forward and upward.”

The abrupt and sloppy nature of the decision’s rollout is reminiscent of how Google shut down its first-party Stadia game studios in early 2021. For a week, Harrison praised the work of multiple teams waiting to move their projects from concept to production. Next, he shut everything down, blaming Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda in part. kotaku reported at the time.

Stadia VP tries to sell Stadia to the world at its GDC 2019 reveal.

photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

This time, the decision appears to be part of Google’s corporate belt buckle amid a massive slump in the tech world’s financial fortunes. Hiring and contracts were frozen earlier this year, as was CEO Sundar Pichai last week said staff “Don’t equate fun with money,” as he defended, cutting certain employee benefits despite billions in profits.

One victim of this new attitude was the Pixelbook laptop, the The edge reported The sequel was only planned a few months ago. Now Google’s ambitious foray into gaming appears to be another. “We knew Stadia was on the cutting board, but I think we still had hope that it was so much of an investment that it was cheaper to keep it going, even with no new games, than killing it.” , said a current employee kotaku.

Now even some of the company’s biggest partners in the gaming world are pondering what to do next. destiny 2 was one of Stadia’s first big gets, with Bungie making a major push to bring streaming gamers into the fold of its sprawling space MMO. Even the famous ones gloriole However, the creator apparently wasn’t prepared for the news. “We just found out about the closure of Stadia and have started discussions about the next steps for our players,” Bungie said Posted yesterday in his support forum. It did not respond to a request for comment.

Some of the studio’s own developers also took to Twitter to talk about how the burgeoning streaming platform has been helpful in continually updating the game, especially during Covid. “It’s funny, most people around the world think of Stadia as a gimmick that nobody bothered to make.” tweeted Activity designer Max Nichols. “But hundreds of us use it every day at Bungie as part of our internal playtesting workflow.”

destiny 2 and other games on Stadia will continue to be playable until the January 18, 2023 shutdown date. Since yesterdaythere was more at the same time determination Players on Stadia as Halo infinity Players on Steam. But not every game seamlessly transfers player save data from one platform to another like Bungie’s MMO. Red Dead Redemption 2 and Cyberpunk 2077 Gamers have already started asking the makers of these games, Rockstar and CD Projekt Red, to help them transfer their save files to PC or console. Both games have been a major selling point for Stadia and Bloomberg previously reported that Google has spent tens of millions to secure these and other big blockbusters that it will now refund to all players for purchases.

The only people unsure of getting their money are the developers who were still in the process of bringing their games to Stadia. The company had paid studios, particularly indie makers, to bring their releases to the platform. Some of the contracts were not supposed to be paid out until the games actually started.

“To be honest we had proceeded fairly cautiously based on Google’s track record and fortunately hadn’t invested too much in the port aside from the time lost planning how it would perform versus Steam or consoles and working through integration testing and stuff like that,” Simpson told Kotaku. “I suppose that’s why they had trouble getting developers on board. It’s hard to fully commit to them if they don’t fully commit to us.”

“We literally got the release build ready for submission this week!” said Rose. “Well yeah, obviously quite pissed off. We’ll see if someone from Google contacts us, but I have doubts!”

When Stadia was first introduced at GDC 2019, kotaku Harrison asked if only it was another ambitious Google project that was abandoned after a few years. “I understand the concern,” he said at the time. “But I think you just have to look at the amount of investment we’ve made and continue to make in Stadia. This is by no means a trivial project. This is a very, very significant cross-company effort that not only affects my team, but also YouTube, our technical infrastructure, and our network team. It represents thousands of people working on this business.”

With Stadia now closing, it’s unclear what Harrison’s future at Google will be. An employee tells kotaku They hope that when he leaves, he’s not the only one who leaves. “I don’t want to stay under the same leadership,” they said. “I think they need to be held accountable for their mistakes.”

Google did not respond to a request for comment. Stadia Sudden Shutdown Blindside employees, developers and Bungie

Curtis Crabtree

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