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New reports detail Stadia’s demise, cancelled projects and wasted millions • 98bpm

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A trio of new reports on Stadia’s demise has revealed Google’s missteps and a raft of cancelled projects.

Earlier in February, Google shut down its first-party development operation, impacting around 150 people.

According to Bloomberg, Stadia missed sales targets for its controller, and targets for monthly active users by hundreds of thousands.

Reportedly, staff within Stadia were worried the service would not deliver what was expected from customers upon its late 2019 release, and called on management to position the launch as a beta test. However, Stadia boss Phil Harrison and others on the leadership allegedly resisted, choosing instead to go with the big bang-style launch expected of new consoles. Apparently Stadia forked out tens of millions of dollars to get big games such as Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 on the system. When Stadia did launch, it missed promised features.

According to a new report from Wired, Google struggled to understand game development. The report also details how Harrison issued a rallying cry to Stadia employees in an email sent on 27th January 2021. Five days later, Harrison told staff during a short stream that Stadia Games and Entertainment was shutting down. It failed to release a single game.

And today, VGC reports on a number of cancelled projects that were in the works for Stadia.

Most eye-catching, perhaps, is that Google itself backed out of proposals for celebrated Japanese developers Hideo Kojima and Yu Suzuki to create Stadia exclusives.

VGC said the Kojima Productions project would have been an episodic horror game, but it was blocked by Stadia in 2020. As the website notes, this project may have been the same one Kojima himself mentioned as being cancelled back in May 2020.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Typhoon, the studio Google bought in 2020, was working on a sequel to Journey to the Savage Planet. Meanwhile, another Stadia team led by former Splinter Cell and Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate producer Francois Pelland saw a multiplayer action game cancelled.

With its in-house development ditched, Stadia’s future appears to be helping outside game developers use its streaming tech. Investment in exclusives has ceased, although some existing deals are still coming to fruition. For example, this week Q-Games announced PixelJunk Raiders, the latest entry in the PixelJunk series, which is set to launch exclusively on Google Stadia on 1st March 2021. It will be interesting to see if, given recent developments, PixelJunk Raiders also comes to other platforms.

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