Insiders expose Google Stadia’s rushed release, poor hiring practices, and stymied studios

    
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Yeah, cool.

As things for Google Stadia continue to fall apart, with internal dev studios shutting down, misleading inter-company communications, and an impending class-action lawsuit from consumers, the question of where and when things went wrong is being answered thanks to some fresh insider reporting.

New pieces on both Bloomberg and Wired tell the tale, detailing how Stadia lead Phil Harrison’s big reveals for the console at GDC 2019 were a source of concern for devs, who suggested that the Stadia should be touted as a beta product instead of a fully released console — suggestions that fell upon deaf ears.

There were other internal problems as well, as high-level devs reportedly hit “barrier after barrier” when they tried to build their teams thanks to Google’s extremely specific and lengthy hiring processes, withheld permission to use certain game dev software due to “security issues,” and mandates to design games that utilized Stadia-specific features like cloud computing or State Share tech. Eventually, some of these restrictions were eased, but a hiring freeze effectively meant that there weren’t enough devs to produce the games Google wanted.

Anonymous quotes from those involved with Stadia called Google’s entire approach “hubristic,” accented by “executive-level people not fully grasping how to navigate through a space that is highly creative, cross-disciplinary” according to one source. Other sources called Harrison out as not being transparent or even misleading through their employment with Google, claiming they were unaware of how Stadia was faring among gamers and were left in the dark about why Google was shutting down first-party game development or even if Google was interested in making games at all. “If Google is really interested in carving its place in this market, then it would be fine with losing money at the beginning to establish their presence,” said one source.

sources: Bloomberg, Wired
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Tee Parsley

Disney was willing to risk Billions of dollars of losses to start the Disney+ streaming channel. They were accepting that lots of money would go down the drain for three years, before it would be profitable.

They ended up doing far better than they’d expected, due to pandemic, Mandalorian, etc.

If Stadia wasn’t willing to take a big loss to establish themselves, they are business stoopid.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

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Tee Parsley

You have the bestest whimsy!

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Japheth

May want to update your article and in the future wait for a response as Google has addressed the rumors and hearsay as untrue.

You are better than this MOP

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Richard de Leon III

Of course Google would deny the allegations. But at the very least, the fact they quit 1st party development before even releasing a product shows they arent willing to lose money to get a market share, if anything that proves some of the developer rumors right or at least something worth listening to.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

“If Google is really interested in carving its place in this market, then it would be fine with losing money at the beginning to establish their presence,”

If there’s anything anyone should have noticed by now, it’s that most companies refuse to spend any money on anything, and just want to be like a Hoover vacuum sucking it all up and never returning any to the economy (Thus the people). They also don’t even want to pay workers a living wage and expect you to live in poverty conditions while the CEO walks away with millions. They expect to pay nothing, to get into a ‘game’ and participate and walk away with those funds also. It’s like someone walking up to a gambling table with no money for buy-in and expecting you to seat them.

Why are we permitting this behavior is the bigger question? From the looks of it, people are putting their foot down finally and saying ‘No.’.

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Peregrine Falcon

I don’t know about your country, but in the US we allow it because the Constitution says we must. It’s called Freedom. See the word Freedom means that I’m free to be me, even if that means that I’m free to be a greedy jerk.

Newsflash, you can’t force people to be good.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

If you think what we have in the US is freedom, I have news for you…

We maybe ‘have a little more than other places’ but it’s certainly not freedom.

But then again true freedom (To do whatever one wants) for one would trounce another person’s freedom, thus curtailing their freedoms.

We need to find the right spot, and we certainly haven’t yet.

But to reference what I was saying, normally you kick the person out for trying to play with no money. Somewhere along the way we said ‘Sit on down and pull up a chair, maybe you’ll win some eventually!’…but to the people who already had the house’s money and said ‘Eh, you don’t need to chip in anymore, you run the place.’.

Maybe you’re OK with someone else ruling your life that way, but I’m not.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Also this is relevant :

” When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. ”

– Quote from Children of Dune by Frank Herbert attributed to a probably fictitious philosopher.

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Pheeb Hello

Stadia works but people didn’t want to invest because of Google’s track record of cancelling projects. Also no one wants to buy digitally streamed games, they’ll pay a subscription like Game Pass, but not buy the games as well.

On top of that they lied about the hardware, they said it would be 4K 60 maxed out with the best possible graphics…. it’s more of a mid ranged PC and is missing things like RT.

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Arktouros

Anyone who remotely keeps up with technology knows it’s really risky getting involved with anything Google does early on. Even if Stadia was somehow wildly successful I’d still end up being extremely skeptical.

All these game streaming services (Stadia, Luna, etc) should really have looked into pairing up with Sony, Valve, Epic, etc instead. Most of those “smaller” companies don’t have the same capability of bringing online the massive hosting architecture these kinds of companies can offer. As it stands Microsoft is still in the best position having both a game service with Xbox/Win 10 stores and still has their huge investment into Azure to prop up their whole virtual gaming product once they work it out.

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Franklin Adams

Well who’s really surprised? Google kills services all the time, from Wave to Reader to Plus to Google Play Music. They change which messaging app gets promoted and what gets killed almost as often, like Allo, Hangouts, etc etc. Hardware lasts at Google for even even less time, I’m amazed they still make the Pixel phones. They’d probably get rid of the Chrome OS division in it’s entirety if they figured HP and Dell wouldn’t sue the shit out of them 0since they don’t make their own hardware for it anymore due to the roaring success that the PixelBook was (/s).

Google has the attention span of a Goldfish and internal politics there basically decide what’s getting shit canned and what has a long and promising future (for about a fiscal quarter give or take until politics shift), it has little or nothing to do with the product’s technical merit or even usually because of costs or overhead, it has to do with how well the product’s Managing Directors are paying homage to the EVPs, and if those EVPs are in favor with the C-suites and the Board at the moment.

About the only three products I know they won’t eventually kill off are AdSense, Gmail and Search because they’re pulling in the money. Google is first and foremost an advertising company. YouTube might also be safe because of that, as they have total control of the platform and can sell ads there about as well as gaming the search algorithms for paying customers that they do all the time but the second the YouTube money printer hits a snag they’ll sell it to Comcast or AT&T. Android’s starting to lose favor to their new OS since there’s no pesky free (as in freedom) and GPLed software involved. No Linux kernel, no GNU tool chain, nothing.

About the only thing you can trust Google to do is sell ads no matter what, collect information on every aspect of their users, and kill products that usually work pretty well because someone failed to kiss the ring well enough. The Stadia was doomed from the get-go, that it’s in the early stages of being the next resident of the Google memorial garden should not come as a surprise to anyone.

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Vanquesse V

There’s a key difference in this product though. Usually google rolls out a new product slowly, both in terms of users and features – I think we all remember how much of a meme gmail’s extended beta was.
The only small scale testing on Stadia was the test the year before where some people got to play odyssey over the internet in a chrome browser, just to test the tech.
But for the rest? They went full ham.
Beside the fact that most parts of the product wasn’t ready or working at launch, having a slow rollout could probably have made them rethink the exceptionally stupid business model.
Of all the boneheaded choices they made, charging full price for old games that you have way less ownership over than usual, while getting not that great graphics, on top of a subscription fee was heads and shoulders above the rest

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Franklin Adams

Y’know, I was gonna mention the Gmail never-ending “beta” but yeah, you’re right, they do usually test things for quite a while before launch even if they later kill it and its an angle I didn’t really consider as I don’t generally expect any of the products they introduce to survive all that long.

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Vanquesse V

It’s been a while since they’ve struck gold, hasn’t it?

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Vanquesse V

They spent tens of millions on getting rdr2 ported and another 20 mil on getting divison 2, assassin’s creed and breakpoint on the service.
They could have funded a lot of really interesting indie games with that money, though without also changing the business model that alone wouldn’t have made a difference.
Still it’s wild that we keep getting stories about execs unfamliar with gamedev making the same stupid mistakes with catastrophic failure to follow.
It just sucks that the hubris of those people in power will do little harm to themselves while screwing over plenty of talented devs that did nothing wrong.

Leo
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Leo

Phil Harrison is a man that seems to have just failed upwards

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Nathan Aldana

thats how life is when youre rich

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Vanquesse V

picking the person responsible for the worst console launch on both the xbox and the playstation side to lead your incredibly expensive gaming initiative is just wild.

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Arktouros

Especially when they just try the exact same strategy with an entirely different product type.

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Pheeb Hello

Well he has never been responsible for hardware, he’s a games person. His only real failure has been Stadia as he was product manager.