Yesterday, seemingly out of the blue, Google announced that it would be winding down Google Stadia, its cloud streaming service that launched back in 2019. While many saw the writing on the wall for Stadia, no one expected to happen the way it happened, especially Google employees and game developers who have titles on the platform and those who were going to have titles on the platform. Since Google’s announcement, both sides have released statements reacting to the news of Stadia’s shutdown.
Tom Vian of studio SFB Games said that their title “Tangle Tower was due to launch on Stadia in 2 days time, and this article was the first I heard about it shutting down.” Rebecca Heineman said “we have a title coming out November 1st. Now we hear about this.”
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/Pu0UPTQlRn
— Tom Vian (@SFBTom) September 29, 2022
Drowning my sorrows with Diet Dad’s Root Beer. At least Google reached out to us and are working to lessen the pain due to our title for stadia is cancelled. At least it will be on other platforms, but still. Ouch. #stadia #ouch #rip #googlestadia
— Rebecca Heineman (@burgerbecky) September 30, 2022
Heineman and developer Olde Skuul were planning on announcing its title Luxor Evolved would be coming to Stadia. Now, they say that it’ll be coming to Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation in early 2023. They did say that Google is working to “make it right.”
We were going to be announcing Luxor Evolved on the #stadia platform next week, but might as well announce that it’s coming to Xbox, Switch and Playstation in early 2023. We wish our friends at Google well, and they are working to “make it right” for us.
— Olde Skuul (@OldeSkuul) September 30, 2022
Studios talked with Stadia partner managers to help with the process of porting games, getting certified, and other issues that could come up. Many devs spoke to their partner managers as recently as this week. There was no hint that anything like a shutdown announcement was imminent. “We’d signed a deal and had been working towards a release on Stadia/Stadia Pro for Arctic Awakening in 2023,” GoldFire Studios founder James Simpson told Kotaku. “We just had communication with [our partner manager] earlier in the week going through some next steps, so there was no indication that anything was changing.”
“We have a game on there called Heist Simulator which was due to come out of Early Access in 2023, so our recent development for that on Stadia has been obviously pointless,” spokesperson Mike Rose for publisher No More Robots wrote in an email. “We were also due to launch Soccer Story on Stadia in November, and that has money attached to it that we’re meant to receive. It could be that we’re still going to see that, but given that we literally can’t release on Stadia anymore, I’m not holding my breath!”
It wasn’t just the game devs who were in the dark. Many employees at Stadia didn’t know what was coming. Someone claiming to be a Google employee shared a screenshot on Reddit of a meeting invite from Phil Harrison, Stadia VP. The meeting was the announcement of Stadia’s shutdown. Google Engineer Peter Elst tweeted his reaction to the news.
It’s a weird experience starting your work day and realizing the feature you’ve been working on for 6+ months and were launching soon is no longer relevant.
If nothing else it does put things in perspective, onwards and upwards.
— Peter Elst (@peterelst) September 30, 2022
It’s not just small, independent games that are affected either. Some of Stadia’s biggest partners like Bungie have to figure out what to do next for the community of players playing Destiny 2 on Stadia.
— Destiny Bulletin (@DestinyBulletn) September 29, 2022
Google had been paying studios, especially those developing indie games, to bring their titles to the platform but they are’t sure if they’ll be getting their money. Some of the contracts weren’t set to pay until the game launched.
“To be honest, based on Google’s track record, we’d been moving forward fairly cautiously and fortunately hadn’t invested too much into the port outside of lost time on planning how it would work compared to Steam or consoles, working through integration tests and so on,” Simpson told Kotaku. “I suppose this is why they struggled to onboard devs. It’s hard to fully commit to them if they won’t fully commit to us.”
“We were literally preparing the release build for submission this week!” Rose said. “So yeah, obviously pretty pissed off. We’ll see if anyone from Google gets in touch with us, but I feel doubtful!”