December 7, 2022

Stadia's Blindsided Staff, Devs, and Bungie . Sudden Closure

Stadia’s Blindsided Staff, Devs, and Bungie . Sudden Closure

Stadia console sinks into black and white photo of the ocean as people flee on lifeboats.

picture: Holton Archive / Stringer / Kotaku (Getty Images)

Few thought Google’s struggling streaming service, Stadia, might become a dominant player in the gaming industry, but almost no one expected it suddenly shut downIncluding company employees. Stadia VP Phil Harrison, who is quickly becoming a grim reaper of new gaming initiatives, made the news to employees at the same time everyone was learning about it through a public blog post. The work they’ve been doing up to that point has suddenly become irrelevant, while developers are still in the middle of moving their games to Stadia with no idea what’s going to happen next.

interlocking tower It was due to launch on Stadia in a couple of days, and this article was the first time I heard about it shutting down, “Tom Vian, half scraps SFB Games Studio, chirp yesterday. Other developers felt similarly sucked. “We have a title coming out on November 1st,” Rebecca Heinemann replied. “Now we hear about this.”

The studios have partner managers at Stadia to help with the game transfer process, certification, and any other issues that may arise during the collaboration. Many spoke to their peers recently this week and there was no hint that anything was weird. “We signed a deal and were working towards releasing Stadia/Stadia Pro for Arctic awakening In 2023, GoldFire Studios founder James Simpson said Kotaku. “We just got in touch with [our partner manager] Earlier in the week it was going through some next steps, so there was no indication that anything had changed.”

Publisher No More Robots was in a similar situation. “We have a game there called theft simulator Which was due to come out of Early Access in 2023, so our recent development of that in Stadia was clearly pointless,” company spokesperson Mike Rose wrote in an email. football story At Stadia in November, and there’s money attached to it that we’re supposed to receive. We’ll probably still see it, but given that we’re not at all on Stadia anymore, I’m not holding my breath! “

One of the reasons developers likely haven’t received any indication that they should stop working on Stadia projects is that even many employees at Stadia had no idea what was going to happen. Shortly after the public announcement yesterday, someone claims to be a Google employee Share a screenshot on Reddit A meeting invitation from Harrison. “We’re going to have a Stadia team meeting today, September 29th at 8:30AM PT to share some important updates with everyone,” she said. The significant update turned out to be that Google was killing Stadia by the beginning of next year, according to current employees who wished to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to speak to the press about the company’s business.

“It is a strange experience to start your workday and realize that a feature you have been working on for over 6 months and launched soon is no longer relevant,” said Google engineer Peter Elst chirp today. “If nothing else, it sets the record straight, forward and up.”

The abrupt and sloppy nature of bringing up the decision recalled the way Google shut down first-party game studios Stadia in early 2021. One week, Harrison was praising the work of multiple teams while they waited to move their projects from concept stage to production. The next time, he shut everything down and partly blamed the move on Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda, Kotaku I mentioned at that time.

Stadia VP tries to sell the world on Stadia at GDC 2019 unveiling.

picture: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

This time around, the decision appears to be part of Google’s belt tightening amid a massive downturn in the tech world’s financial fortunes. Hiring and contracts were frozen earlier this year, and CEO Sundar Pichai last week The staff said He did not “equality pleasure with money” as he advocated curtailing certain employee benefits despite billions in profits.

The Pixelbook laptop was one of the victims of this new situation the edge mentioned It was planned to continue as recently as a few months ago. Now it looks like Google’s ambitious foray into gaming is something else. Tell an existing employee Kotaku.

Now, even some of the company’s biggest partners in the gaming world are scrambling to figure out what to do next. Fate 2 I was One of the first big Stadia awards, with Bungie making a major push to bring streaming players into the sprawling MMO fold. Even the famous Hello He was clearly not ready for the news. “We just learned about Stadia closing and started talks about the next steps for our players,” Bungie Spread In the support forum yesterday. It did not respond to a request for comment.

Some of the studio’s own developers have also taken to Twitter to talk about how useful a burgeoning streaming platform can be in keeping the game constantly updated, especially during covid. “It’s funny how most of the world looks at Stadia as a gimmick that no one has bothered about,” he said. chirp Activity designer Max Nichols. “But hundreds of us use it every day at Bungie as part of our in-house gameplay testing workflow.”

Fate 2 Other games on Stadia will remain playable until the closing date of January 18, 2023. As of yesterdaythere were more simultaneous fate Players on Stadia from infinite aura players on Steam. But not every game moves the player smoothly and saves data from one platform to another like Bungie’s MMO. Red Dead Redemption 2 And the Cyberpunk 2077 movie Gamers have already started begging the makers of those games, Rockstar and CD Projekt Red, to help them transfer their saved files to their PC or console. Both games were major selling points for Stadia and Bloomberg Previously mentioned That Google has put tens of millions into securing those and other blockbuster movies, which will now return their purchases to all players.

The only people who aren’t sure if they’ll get their money back are the developers who are still in the middle of bringing their games to Stadia. The company was paying studios, especially independent filmmakers, to bring their releases to the platform. Some contracts were not due to be paid until the games were actually released.

“Honestly, based on Google’s track record, we’ve been progressing fairly cautiously and fortunately haven’t invested much in the port outside of wasted time planning how it works compared to Steam or consoles, working through integration tests and so forth,” Simpson told Kotaku. “I suppose that’s why they struggled to get on board with the developers. It’s hard to fully commit to them if they don’t fully commit to us.”

“We were actually preparing the release version for presentation this week!” Rose said. “So, he’s obviously very upset. We’ll see if anyone from Google has reached out to us, but I’m suspicious!”

Back when Stadia was first revealed at GDC 2019, Kotaku ask Harrison If it was just another ambitious project for Google, it would be abandoned after a few years. “I understand the concern,” he said at the time. “But I think all you have to do is look at the level of investment that we’ve made and we’re still making in Stadia. This is by no means a trivial project. This is a pretty big cross-company effort not just my team, but it’s also across YouTube, it’s across the architecture Technical infrastructure and networking team. It represents the thousands of people working in this business.”

With Stadia now closed, it’s unclear what Harrison’s future at Google will be. One employee said Kotaku They hope that if he goes, he won’t be the only one leaving. They said, “I don’t want to be under the same leadership.” “I think they should be responsible for their mistakes.”

Google did not respond to a request for comment.