Developers working on games for Stadia have expressed surprise and frustration that Google still haven't made contact with them, almost 24 hours after the search giant announced they were shutting down their cloud gaming service yesterday afternoon. Many of the devs I spoke with have had no communication from Google at all since the announcement, with only one saying the company had been in touch. It's not just devs who have been left in the dark, though. Through a leaked internal email sent to Google’s Stadia team, even Google's own staff weren’t briefed until around the same time the public were made aware of the forthcoming shutdown.
Developer pixel.games told me that they’d spent weeks going through checks and onboarding requirements with the Stadia team, and finally been given the green light just yesterday afternoon to publish three games, including arcade-style platformer Donut Dodo, on the platform. Two hours later, Google announced Stadia’s shutdown. “It is clear that none of the people at Stadia involved in our onboarding process knew this was coming,” pixel.games told RPS. “We are now waiting for official news from Google.”
Other devs with games due to launch on Stadia soon were just as surprised:
Another developer I spoke with told me they had heard from Google. Rebecca Heineman’s team Olde Skuul were developing a game for Stadia, although they’re also producing games for other consoles. Heineman told me that she’d actually broken the news of Stadia’s shutdown to her contact at Google, and that they were as shocked as her team to find out the platform was closing down in January. After that conversation, Google reached out to Heineman in an official capacity later in the day. “They opened the idea of reimbursement,” Heineman told me. “I was informed that they were going to be busy for the next few days because they had to reach out to all the devs to directly share the news.”
Who wouldn’t be shocked if they’d been working on signing new games only to be called into a meeting to be told they were shutting down? Stadia VP and general manager Phil Harrison contacted the streaming platform’s team to arrange a virtual meeting for 4.30pm BST yesterday, which coincided with the publication of Harrison’s blog post detailing Stadia’s shutdown. A Stadia engineer took to Reddit to share the internal email Harrison had sent around an hour beforehand to organise the meeting. The contents of the email have since been taken down, but they’ve also been shared on Twitter.
Although Google downsized their game development efforts last year, they’d responded to speculation that the streaming platform would shut down by committing to bringing more games to it only a few months ago in July. Google’s announcement yesterday of Stadia’s shutdown has caught developers, the public, and Stadia’s own team unaware. It’s sad to see the people involved, both developers and Stadia staff alike, being treated with such disdain. At least there are some signs that Google may begin to compensate developers to some degree.
I’ve reached out to other developers affected by the shutdown, as well as Google, and will update you if they share anything.