from the abandon-ship dept
More bad news for Stadia. We were just discussing Google’s decision to axe its own game development studios. In and of itself, such a move to cut staff like this would be a worrying sign for the platform, especially given just how much growing interest there has been in video games and game-streaming surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. But when it’s instead one more indication that Google isn’t fully committed to its own platform, alongside the poor reception from the public and concerns about whether it can deliver the gaming experience it promised, these things tend to pile up on one another. I have attempted to drive home the point of just how important the development of trust with customers is for Stadia, given that those buying into the platform are gaming entirely at the pleasure of Google’s desire to keep Stadia going.
And the hits to trust keep coming. In direct fallout from its decision to cut the development teams, Stadia customers are finding themselves unable to get support for Google’s internally developed game.
One of the few games that Google actually owns — although it was released first on consoles and PC before making its Stadia debut — was Journey to the Savage Planet. Google acquired Typhon Studios before the end of 2019, and the deal meant that Journey to the Savage Planet was one of the few games that came free with the Stadia Pro subscription.
Typhon Studios was the first studio acquired by Google, but with the effective closure of Google’s gaming ambitions, the developers there were let go with everyone else. For users who are still playing on Stadia however — at least the ones who aren’t suing Google — that’s caused a bit of a problem, because there’s nobody around to fix their games.
And in the case of Journey to the Savage Planet, fixes are definitely needed. Crashes and glitches appear to be the normal experience for those playing the game. Still others report that the game regularly freezes at the start menu. Worse yet, it appears that some reporting these bugs are being told by Google reps that they are going to work with the now-axed developers to address their concerns.
Said axed-developers, however, are telling everyone that will listen that, no, they can’t, because they were laid off.
Unable to play Journey in single-player or co-op, one user reached out to the game’s publisher, 505 Games. After being told by Stadia’s social team that they would work with the publisher on a fix, the publisher said: Actually, we can’t fix this for you at all.
“Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do from our end right now since all of the game code and data on Stadia is owned by Google,” 505’s support staffer said in an email.
In a follow-up a few days ago, another 505 Games support staffer suggested the user remind Google that, actually, Google are the ones responsible for publishing everything on Google Stadia.
There’s literally no way for those now ex-Google employees to make fixes on games when the code resides on Google’s systems. And if Google itself cannot fix the bugs, well, then the bugs go unfixed, full stop.
All of this comes as Stadia reps are telling people that more games are coming to the platform in a pitch to drive adoption of Stadia among the public. But given the experience that public has with Google’s own game, it’s hard to imagine many trusting the platform enough to buy in. This has all the earmarks of other abandoned Google projects in the past, where the company never seems to decide whether it is fully invested in the product or not. In the past, that has led to those projects withering on the vine. Why the public should expect something different out of Stadia is an open question.
Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.
Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.
While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.
–The Techdirt Team