Stadia first-party development was halted suddenly, and influenced by the Microsoft Bethesda merger, report alleges


‘I think people really just wanted the truth of what happened’

Google Stadia has been down a very weird road. Like most Google products, it’s a bumpy one.

It didn’t have to be. Stadia, for all of its meme potential, was pretty good at what it did. Now some of you may fundamentally disagree with buying games on a cloud-based platform, and I get it. If Stadia ever shuts down entirely, your purchases go with it. It’s the reason why I fall back on physical games when possible.

But the technology was there. This wasn’t a haphazardly done OnLive rollout here. Yet, Google decided recently that they just weren’t going to back first-party development any longer. While third-party studios are free to put their games on the platform, the impact sent ripples throughout the industry, alienating (now former) Stadia developers like Jade Raymond, who exited the company.

According to a report from Kotaku, the decision to cut off that internal development process was muddled and sudden. Allegedly, a mere week before the “mass layoffs,” Google Stadia VP Phil Harrison told his team that they were making “great progress.” Not long after, Harrison would pen a public missive of a public blog post stating that “we will not be investing further in bringing exclusive content from our internal development team SG&E, beyond any near-term planned games.”

Raymond, lauded as a breath of fresh air for the project, “left Google to pursue other opportunities.” Days later, the developer of Terrariacalled working with Google a “liability.”It wasn’t a good week for the Stadia team. But according to the Kotaku report, it was even worse behind the scenes.

They were told the news, but had to “wait three days” to actually talk about it anywhere. A source tells Kotaku: “I think people really just wanted the truth of what happened. They just want an explanation from leadership. If you started this studio and hired a hundred or so of these people, no one starts that just for it to go away in a year or so, right? You can’t make a game in that amount of time…We had multi-year reassurance, and now we don’t.”

According to sources, there were many reasons for the mismanagement follies, including: “a severe lack of resources, difficulty securing necessary hardware and software, and a frozen headcount throughout 2020 following the start of the pandemic, despite the goal of eventually shipping several original exclusives in the coming years.” Also, Harrison partially blamed the shutdown on Microsoft’s purchasing of Bethesda, and cited “exponential” catch-up costs. Details that probably could have been planned in advance before the project got off the ground (was the extend of Google’s foresight a mere two-year plan at best?).

Google is not known for their finesse in terms of handling new products. The way they have seemingly handled Stadia is just more fuel for that fire.

Stadia Leadership Praised Development Studios For ‘Great Progress’ Just One Week Before Laying Them All Off [Kotaku]