Bloomberg reported that despite all the hype Google created for the Stadia reveal, gamers around the world were disappointed. This led to a lackluster launch and Stadia reportedly “missed its sales targets of controllers and monthly active users by the hundreds of thousands.”
Even games from some of the top publishers like Ubisoft and Take-Two Interactive Software couldn’t help turn the tide for Stadia. These games weren’t cheap either, as Bloomberg sources say it cost “tens of millions” of dollars to bring games like Red Dead Redemption 2 to the platform.Wired also share some of the difficulties of Stadia that ultimately led to the closure of Google Stadia’s internal studios. Many of these issues stemmed from the fact that Google had created roadblocks for those employees who were trying to recruit staff to create AAA games.
Google is known for its long and complex recruiting process that can take anywhere from six to nine months. On top of that, Google had to change its hiring standards as it sought to recruit game developers and had traditionally not hired for these positions.
While there were around 150 employees affected by the closure of Stadia’s internal studios, two sources said the goal was to recruit more than 2,000 over five years.
Beyond recruiting issues, sources explain that “Stadia’s game development process felt stuck.” Many developers felt that “Google was not funding games to sell games; it was funding games to sell Stadia.”Instead of giving developers the freedom to really create whatever they wanted, they were told to “design prototypes showcasing Stadia technology like Google’s cloud computing capability or State share. “
These issues were undoubtedly frustrating, but many felt secure in their jobs at Google, with high paychecks and what looked like little fear of being fired, which can be an endemic issue in others. studios. Then the COVID-19 pandemic began.
After the start of the pandemic, Google implemented a hiring freeze for all departments except for a “small number of strategic areas where users and businesses rely on Google for continued support and where our growth is essential to their success. ” Gambling was not one of those areas.
“While the company was okay with putting us on a hiring freeze, it was also okay with hurting our ability to create content,” says a source. “The studio was not yet fully formed and ready to produce games. It put the brakes on and that was a statement. We interpreted it as a lack of commitment on the part of Google to create content. “At the end of January, Google vice president of Stadia and general manager Phil Harrison emailed employees and praised the platform’s technology, and said that “Stadia Games and Entertainment has done ‘great things. progress by building a diverse and talented team and establishing a strong lineup of exclusive Stadia games. ‘”
Five days later, Harrison called the employees together and let them know that the internal studios were closing.
VGC reported on a few of Stadia’s possible canceled projects and proposals, and one of them was allegedly an episodic horror game from Kojima Productions. This particular proposal was reportedly “blocked by Stadia chief executive Phil Harrison last year.” Another would be from Yu Suzuki from Shenmue.
A Journey to the Savage Planet sequel is also reportedly in the works by the team formerly known as Typhoon, and a multiplayer action game called Frontier was in development and led by the former Splinter Cell and Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate producer François Pelland.
All 2021 games with confirmed release dates
A Google Stadia spokesperson responded to VGC’s story, saying that he “has nothing, nor has he announced anything, with Kojima or Yu Suzuki”.
“We talk to partners all the time in situations that don’t result in a project or even a proposal,” the spokesperson said of the so-called Kojima project. “This is very common. To speculate that two parties who speak regularly in this industry leads to proposals or otherwise, is inaccurate.”
Even though Stadia’s internal studios have been closed, Google has reassured those who own Stadia that the platform will receive “more than 100 games” in 2021.
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Adam Bankhurst is a news editor for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Tic.