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.