Enlarge /. As we learned more about the inner workings of Stadia, we started to give this PUBG parachute from the Stadia brand a little "flair".
PUBG / Getty Images / Aurich Lawson
After the Stadia Games & Entertainment (SG&E) group was shut down by Google, leaks have occurred through the overwhelming game streaming service. A Bloomberg report on Friday citing unnamed Stadia sources added a new number to the errors: "Hundreds of thousands" fewer controllers sold and "Monthly Active Users" (MAU) signing in than Google expected .
Controller sales are central to the story told Friday by Bloomberg's Jason Schreier: Internally, Google wasn't sure how Stadia was going to launch. One idea looked back on some of the company's greatest achievements, particularly Gmail, which launched quietly in a public beta that kept it dynamic while watching it absorb over time. The other, advocated by Stadia CEO Phil Harrison, was treating Stadia like a console equipped with some form of hardware that could be hyped up and pre-sold. In Stadia's case, the latter won when Harrison bullishly sold a Stadia Founders bundle – and that turned out to be a goal for the $ 129.99 service. Without it, you would not be able to access Stadia for the first few months.
According to Schreier, Harrison and the Stadia executive team "had come out of the world of traditional console design and wanted to follow the path they knew."
As part of his Stadia launch mission, Harrison approved deals that cost "tens of millions of dollars" to encourage publishers such as Take-Two and Ubisoft to launch their games in Stadia, Schreier reports. How many millions of dollars Stadia spent on these deals is unknown, but Schreier claims that "the amount of money Google was willing to spend came as a shock to seasoned game developers," a figure well in excess of $ 10 million implies.
Despite such financial incentives in his pocket, Take-Two CEO Stauss Zelnick eventually admitted to shareholders that adding players to Stadia did not live up to his previously optimistic expectations. As he said in June 2020, "Stadia's launch has been slow. I think there have been some over-promising results in terms of technology performance and some disappointments from consumers."
The article mainly repeats the chaotic, public story of how Stadia missed the mark with critics and potential buyers, including the service's lack of transferable game ownership and the lack of a clear a la carte subscription option from video streaming services how Netflix was popularized. The report points to at least one game project that was canceled as part of SG & E's breakup earlier this month: "A cross between a Google assistant and a Tamagotchi pet that allows players to interact with intelligent creatures in a fun way. " This digital pet game would have relied in part on Stadia's server infrastructure and "only worked on a cloud platform," says Schreier.
Also on Friday, Wired's Cecilia D & # 39; Anastasio released a report citing additional, unnamed sources on stage development issues. According to that report, Google banned game developers in the SG&E group from "using certain game development software," which D & # 39; Anastasio compared to "obstacles to the basics of game making". Additionally, she reports that Stadia's ambitious goals for in-house game studios have been hampered by serious problems with Google's infrastructure:
Google's well-known long and laborious hiring process can take six to nine months. And it took Google some time to expand its recruitment standards to include game development skills rather than traditional areas. The goal was to get 2,000 people to develop games for Stadia within five years, according to two sources.
This "five year number" is in line with former SG&E director Jade Raymond's claim that it took Stadia "four years" to spin ambitious games, well beyond the less than two years these teams actually had.
D & # 39; Anastasio's report also supports Schreier's claims about the number of Stadia users, claiming that the service "falls below internal expectations in 2020" and amounts to "unremarkable subscription numbers". And both reports detail how unique Stadia features, particularly the State Share option to jump right into a moment in the middle of the game, were hyped and promoted long before a game had actually implemented them, which caused the interest the fans pressed.
Savage launch for Savage Planet
This news follows a chaotic interruption to one of SG & E's only game launches before its breakup: a Stadia port of the PC and console game Journey to the Savage Planet. The game was developed by Typhoon Studios, a studio that Google acquired in late 2019 and incorporated into SG&E. However, days after the Stadia version of the game launched as part of Stadia Pro's paid subscription service, SG&E was closed. In the days that followed, Stadia Pro subscribers began to complain that the game would freeze when the "press" button was opened, and players were unable to change the game's backup file or toggle other settings.
There have been questions about who might be able to fix the issue, and a Reddit thread cataloged how Stadia support is pointing fingers at the game's previous publisher, 505 Games. This prompted a 505 representative to tell an affected fan, "Please contact Stadia Support again and let them know that the publisher for this version of JttSP is, in fact, him."
On Monday, February 22nd, weeks after the bug was first spotted (and days after the Reddit thread spread far and wide), the game received an update that fixed the issue. Stadia officials declined to answer Ars Technica's questions about who exactly patched the game or whether the game's original developers at Typhoon were still employed by Google.
This work to keep the game going is at least a reminder that Stadia continues to act as a home for third-party games streamed from Google's servers to players' homes. Paid $ 10 / month Stadia Pro subscriptions include access to a library of over two dozen games, while "free" accounts can either buy Stadia game licenses a la carte or access free software like Destiny 2.