On February 1st, Google announced that it would be shuttering its internal Stadia development studios to focus on bringing third-party titles to the platform.
Now, a Kotaku report sheds some light on what was going on at Stadia’s now-defunct internal studios — one based in Montreal, the other in Los Angeles — behind-the-scenes during this time.
According to four sources, Google Stadia vice president and general manager Phil Harrison sent out an email in late January praising staff for the “great progress” that they’d made so far. Therefore, the developers told Kotaku they had no indication that their studios would be shut down until “at almost the same time as everyone else via an internal email and conference call.”
During that call, the developers said Harrison admitted Google knew during that earlier meeting that Stadia Games and Entertainment (SG&E) would be closing. However, he didn’t elaborate on why the closures were happening, according to the sources.
In the original February 1st blog post, Harrison simply noted that “creating best-in-class games from the ground up takes many years and significant investment, and the cost is going up exponentially.”
“I think people really just wanted the truth of what happened,” said one source. “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.”
Three sources also told Kotaku that Stadia suffered from a lack of resources, hardware, software and staff in 2020. The sources note that Google is attempting to relocate the laid-off developers with new positions within the company, as Google promised it would do publicly. That said, Google is reportedly having difficulty doing so because game developers have specific set of skills that don’t quite fit the “generalist” nature of other tech-related jobs within the company.
For now, Google claims it will stick with Stadia going forward, pledging to release at least 100 games on the platform this year. In November 2019, during a one-year anniversary interview for Stadia, Jack Buser, the platform’s director of games, also told MobileSyrup that there were 400 games in development for Stadia over the next couple of years.
However, it’s unclear how these latest developments might affect Stadia’s games roadmap.