Cloudy with a Chance of Games

Before we dive in, there is a few points I need to make. Firstly, remember to relax; your games are still there, that isn’t changing. Go race in an F1 car, hack the world in Cyberpunk, or duck, dive and dodge in Enter the Gungeon. Stadia is not gone, it still very much exists.

Secondly and more seriously, I saw a lot of abuse hurled at various people when this news broke. That isn’t acceptable. We are adults; discuss, share and express opinions, but do so in a constructive way to engage in genuine discussion. I understand the potential dissatisfaction and disappointment people may feel, but harassing developers or community staff will get us nowhere. It was wrong and offered nothing of value. We need to do better.

Lastly, myself and everyone at Cloudy would like to wish everyone at Stadia Games and Entertainment all the best for the future. We cannot imagine how tough it must be right now, but things will get better. I have already seen some game developers sharing job roles available at certain companies such as Naughty Dog, which is a heartwarming thing to see. We will where we can share job listings as and when they are seen by our team in the hope we can help some people affected. Thank you all and best of luck.

So, where to begin? If you aren’t already aware, Stadia Games and Entertainment is effectively no more. As it stands, all employees there are affected, however Google have said they will help look for job roles for them. Nevertheless it’s heartbreaking to see a young studio with such amazing potential closed so soon. We heard from them that they were working on some incredible projects before the information was dropped, which makes the news even harder to swallow.

Intense discussion followed very soon after, mixed with cautious optimism, anxious realism and disappointed pessimism. Articles from major video game news outlets were not far behind. Whilst I want to remain positive, it is hard to look at this news and not see the negatives. It raises some uncomfortable questions. What happens next? Is this a loss of faith in their own service or acknowledgement that it will be aimed more as a service for other companies to use? The real answer, like several people on the Cloudy roundtable stream said, is we have no idea. It’s a complex issue, but that doesn’t stop people from worrying.

Given the success and positive praise Stadia got around the release of Cyberpunk, this news came a surprise. To me, it came as a real shock. When I was told about a new Stadia blog post, I went in expecting some good news; new game announcements, a potential roadmap or an acquisition. As I quickly jumped on to the Cloudy roundtable stream, I could see many people who were as confused and shocked as I was.

To be clear, I don’t believe Stadia is being shut down. We will retain all the games we have, and various people have confirmed this. One thought I have is whether or not Stadia will release exclusives in partnership with other developers. It’s possible, and the money that Google has could get some good partnerships. My other thought is a sentiment others have shared; the tech behind Stadia could be shared to developers who want their own cloud gaming services, but do not have the infrastructure to do so. A good example would be a developer like EA. A cloud service run by EA using Stadia technology. Crazy I know, but with Madden already running and FIFA coming to Stadia in March, it could all be a test for EA.

This was hinted at in the blog post, saying that they are looking to make partnerships with developers and other companies. What I took from that is they have acknowledged their exclusives wouldn’t get the audience they deserve, given that Stadia is still in its infancy. Understandably, the number of Stadia users won’t be close to PlayStation or Xbox for some time; they’ve been in this game for a lot longer. The potential for these partnerships should be seen as a positive though, and I do look forward to the future to see how these partnerships turn out.

Again though, to paraphrase Eddie Player One from last night’s conversation: “We don’t know *redacted*.” And to me, therein lies the problem. I understand the way that Google like the community to find out new information themselves, but that needs to change temporarily. Yesterday a lot of people’s faiths were shaken, and communication going forward is now key. The update from Stadia today should now come from Phil Harrison, addressing the situation and providing some reassurance for everyone. For me, a roadmap for what’s coming would be best. Ignoring this situation will only cause more doubts and worries.

So, where do we stand? For now, all we can do is wait and see. I understand that people will want to know immediately what’s happening, but new information may only come out as the week develops. Continue to play your games, engage with communities and enjoy what cloud gaming has to offer.

This by no means is the end, but it may be the start of a larger change. The best thing and the right thing Google can do is communicate, and we need that now more than ever if Google want to maintain the trust of Stadia users. I realise this is a shorter opinion piece than my previous ones, but I wanted to state it quickly before more changes (hopefully) come as we find out more information on the future of the platform.

By Ben Watson

I'm a writer/reviewer for Cloudy and have been playing video games for most of my life! I started on the Nintendo 64 and haven't stopped since.

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