Stadia users weren’t the only ones shocked to learn that Google was closing its cloud gaming service; developers making games for the platform were also surprised.
“I woke up getting ready for my work day and I see in our private chat on Discord for the company that one of my employees has sent a message saying ‘is this true?’, with a link,” Rebecca Ann Heineman, CEO of Olde Skuul, said in an interview with The edge. “I follow the link and it’s like ‘oh, okay.'” Olde Skuul had planned to launch Luxor evolved on Stadia Pro on November 1, and even planned to meet with Google on Friday to discuss the release plan. That is clearly not happening now.
It’s a pity everywhere
Heineman was just one of many who were surprised. “We had marketing conversations [with Stadia] last week,” Brandon Sheffield, creative director at Necrosoft Games, said in an email to: The edge. Necrosoft was working on Hyper Gunsport for Stadia Pro. “They brought a new [software development kit] updated two days ago. So it’s a shame everywhere because I think the platform is getting a good grip. ”
Others shared their frustrations on Twitter. “Oh My God,” Mike Rose from No More Robots said in a tweet. “A game is coming to Stadia in November. Whoever wants to guess that Google will refuse to pay us the money they owe us for it.”
“After weeks of paperwork and preparations to bring Donut Dodo, Mr Lovelot, and Sigi to Stadia, we successfully completed the onboarding process with Google yesterday,” developer Pixel Games tweeted. “Two hours later, the news came that Stadia is shutting down. Unfortunately.”
The sudden shutdown of Stadia could have major implications for developers. The platform never reached critical mass, so developers probably weren’t making too much money selling their games there. But they probably counted on it as one of the many places where people could play their titles. And because Google has already shut down trading in the Stadia store, developers won’t be able to monetize selling their games during the final months of the service’s lifespan.
Google plans to refund all Stadia hardware and software purchases (but not Stadia Pro subscriptions), so consumers will get some cash back. Developers may also receive some form of compensation, although it’s less clear what to expect.
Developers may receive some form of compensation
On Friday, Olde Skuul’s Twitter account said that Google is working on “make it right.” Heineman says a Stadia representative has approached her about refunding the studio for development costs spent porting the Stadia version of Luxor evolved. Olde Skuul also planned exclusive Stadia features for the game, but is now allowed to implement them on other platforms. For Necrosoft, according to Sheffield, “all I know is” [Google] said they are going to try to do something for us,” but he has no details. Google did not respond to a request for comment.
Both Heineman and Sheffield were looking forward to the launch on Stadia Pro, in part because Google shared subscription revenue with developers. While Sheffield says: Hyper Gunsport will be available on many platforms, “Stadia was a pillar for us as we knew that launching Pro would give us a significant portion of the revenue, enough to pay for our development costs all by ourselves.” For Olde Skuul, not being able to launch on Stadia won’t sink the studio. “I only expected to break even at Stadia,” Heineman said. “We were realistic because we might have made $10,000 in profit with the Stadia version.”
Another aspect of the Stadia shutdown is that the few exclusive games on the platform will be unplayable, such as Q-Games’ PixelJunk Raiders. “As a Stadia exclusive title, once the service is closed, [PixelJunk Raiders] will no longer be available to play,” Hollie Hughes, head of marketing and PR for Q-Games, said in a statement to The edge.
The company hopes to bring the game to other platforms in the future and is open to working with publisher partners to make that happen, Hughes said. (Q-Games has brought back older games beforeso maybe it will give PixelJunk Raiders a second life.) Necrosoft’s original gun sport remains a Stadia exclusive, and it “could go down with the ship,” Sheffield said.
Some companies are exploring ways to keep their Stadia customers playing one way or another. hitman developer IO Interactive tweeted friday that “we are looking for ways to continue with your hitman experience on other platforms.” Ubisoft lets you transfer your Stadia purchases to PC. But smaller developers and publishers may not be able to offer their Stadia players the same benefits.
The real Stadia players were almost… apologetically nice
And for Sheffield, at least losing Stadia means losing a positive community. “For whatever reason, because Stadia was so vilified by the players who didn’t play it, the real Stadia players were almost…apologetic kind,” he said. “They tried every new game that came out, they were really supportive of developers and each other, and overall the platform somehow cultivated one of the most fun, least toxic player groups I’ve seen on any platform. So we really wanted to release the game on Stadia in appreciation of those who supported the original game as much as they did.”