Stadia Fallout: Nobody Can Address Stadia Games' Bugs Because Google Fired All The Developers

from the abandon-ship dept

More bad news for Stadia. We were just discussing Google’s decision to axe its own game development studios. In and of itself, such a move to cut staff like this would be a worrying sign for the platform, especially given just how much growing interest there has been in video games and game-streaming surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. But when it’s instead one more indication that Google isn’t fully committed to its own platform, alongside the poor reception from the public and concerns about whether it can deliver the gaming experience it promised, these things tend to pile up on one another. I have attempted to drive home the point of just how important the development of trust with customers is for Stadia, given that those buying into the platform are gaming entirely at the pleasure of Google’s desire to keep Stadia going.

And the hits to trust keep coming. In direct fallout from its decision to cut the development teams, Stadia customers are finding themselves unable to get support for Google’s internally developed game.

One of the few games that Google actually owns — although it was released first on consoles and PC before making its Stadia debut — was Journey to the Savage Planet. Google acquired Typhon Studios before the end of 2019, and the deal meant that Journey to the Savage Planet was one of the few games that came free with the Stadia Pro subscription.

Typhon Studios was the first studio acquired by Google, but with the effective closure of Google’s gaming ambitions, the developers there were let go with everyone else. For users who are still playing on Stadia however — at least the ones who aren’t suing Google — that’s caused a bit of a problem, because there’s nobody around to fix their games.

And in the case of Journey to the Savage Planet, fixes are definitely needed. Crashes and glitches appear to be the normal experience for those playing the game. Still others report that the game regularly freezes at the start menu. Worse yet, it appears that some reporting these bugs are being told by Google reps that they are going to work with the now-axed developers to address their concerns.

Said axed-developers, however, are telling everyone that will listen that, no, they can’t, because they were laid off.

Unable to play Journey in single-player or co-op, one user reached out to the game’s publisher, 505 Games. After being told by Stadia’s social team that they would work with the publisher on a fix, the publisher said: Actually, we can’t fix this for you at all.

“Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do from our end right now since all of the game code and data on Stadia is owned by Google,” 505’s support staffer said in an email.

In a follow-up a few days ago, another 505 Games support staffer suggested the user remind Google that, actually, Google are the ones responsible for publishing everything on Google Stadia.

There’s literally no way for those now ex-Google employees to make fixes on games when the code resides on Google’s systems. And if Google itself cannot fix the bugs, well, then the bugs go unfixed, full stop.

All of this comes as Stadia reps are telling people that more games are coming to the platform in a pitch to drive adoption of Stadia among the public. But given the experience that public has with Google’s own game, it’s hard to imagine many trusting the platform enough to buy in. This has all the earmarks of other abandoned Google projects in the past, where the company never seems to decide whether it is fully invested in the product or not. In the past, that has led to those projects withering on the vine. Why the public should expect something different out of Stadia is an open question.

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Companies: google, typhon studios

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Comments on “Stadia Fallout: Nobody Can Address Stadia Games' Bugs Because Google Fired All The Developers”

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Phoenix84 (profile) says:

But when it’s instead one more indication that Google isn’t fully committed to its own platform []

That’s Google’s MO. If you Google [Service], and expect them to keep that service around longer than a couple years at most, you are a fool.

Oddly, the only real exception to this is Google Voice. However I wonder if that’s more because there’s some sort of telecom regulation behind it, than anything else.

Maps I figure is still around because of the ad revenue.

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Heh I got into a discussion with someone on teh Twitters about Stadia and the fact that Google is ignoring that 99% of the country can’t buy a fast enough connection.
He quotes oh you only need 50…
I pointed out on a good day I can get 1.
Then the discussion about the few that did have the speed hitting their caps in about 2 hours.
He tried to tell me there were no caps 🙂 So I linked stories from here & tagged in Karl b/c well Karl is the telcom guy. 🙂

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I hope that you guys finally get something sorted out now that there’s adults in charge (and hopefully you can keep them).

"He tried to tell me there were no caps"

Do you know where he was located? It’s quite possible he was telling the truth, but he wasn’t disclosing he wasn’t in the US.

For contrast, my biggest problem at the moment is that I recently accepted what was meant to be a free upgrade on my fibre connection from 600Mbps to 1Gbps, but I’m still only hitting 350 on the wifi and don’t have many devices that would benefit connected via cable. No matter, I have a choice if I decide to switch providers when I move apartment soon. I hope one day this is the type of problem you guys have to deal with.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

This was a while ago, I think it was in a discussion that involved SwiftonSecurity or Tay RT’ed something that caught my eye.
(What you don’t follow megastars who are also security goddesses?
What? Tay accepts I AM an immortal sociopath & I accept Tay is Taylor Swift.)

I used my tropes about people refusing to understand that not everyone has their same experiences in life.

My recall of the conversation isn’t deep enough to remember where he was, but there were other infosec types chiming in that I was right.

If you are on teh Twitters & curious just do a search of anything between me and Karl, I don’t chat with him a ton so the thread should be easily found. I do recall dude tried to tell me that (fuzzy) ATT or Comcast didn’t have caps which is when I linked the articles about them putting the caps back in place pandemic be damned.

I am jealous of your connection & provider options.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That in which I get bored & find the thread using my analytics page (about all of twitter I can access).
My response was actually one of my top tweets for the last 28 days or some such.

This just goes here…

Oh look a url… into the moderation cave!

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"I am jealous of your connection & provider options."

Yeah, I don’t mean to boast, but my options have basically gone from a slow-ish ADSL connection from the former state monopoly 10-ish years ago, to multiple fast fibre and ADSL options depending on where I live in the area now. Similarly with mobile, there’s at least 6 options I currently have I believe.

The difference between here and there? From what I can see, the old monopoly was forced to effectively compete, and both they and their competitors seriously invested in new infrastructure. I hope someone there manages to force the monopolies to do the same.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Reminds me of an argument I had with someone on USENET (this was in the 90s) about bandwidth vs latency. He insisted that cable was better than dsl because it generally had more bandwidth than DSL (and dialup), which was fine, but he claimed that higher bandwidth gave lower latency, which made no sense. It was even true, mostly, that cable provided lower latency than DSL (and latency on dialup was usually terrible), but it had nothing to do with the amount of bandwidth available.

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This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"At least I now know this is not a place for news."

It never has been, it’s always been an opinion blog that is about generating discussion around stories that have been published elsewhere, not breaking news.

However, I find it interesting that you say "the bug was fixed", yet the article is about multiple bugs and never specified a particular one.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It actually doesn’t matter. The article doesn’t specify a bug, and in fact relates to more than one bug. So, even if one unspecified bug managed to get fixed, that neither invalidates the article, nor indicates that the method used to fix it would be applicable to all other outstanding bugs.

Hell, we don’t even know if the fix was written before or after the devs were canned without further information. As far as we know from the above, the fix had already been written, approved and merged into the master branch before they were fired, then someone with access decided to release what had already been approved as a final step in closing the department.

As a sysadmin I could do that on my company’s software. That doesn’t mean I’m a developer or could fix any further bugs, it just means I know how our release lifecycle works and understand that there’s no point in leaving outstanding bugfixes hidden.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Are you being intentionally vague about which bug, so your tantrum seems justified?"

Considering that the account "Tronky" has exactly one comment to it’s name, meaning that someone saw fit to create it only to talk about how Techdirt isn’t trustworthy and isn’t news, I for one, have my suspicions about the identity of the commenter.

Why don’t we just call him Baghdad Bob and call it a day? Wouldn’t be the first, fifth, or tenth time that troll tried and failed to build credibility through a new nickname.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I thought I’d seen the handle somewhere before, but apparently not here. Either way, it’s been excuse enough to explain why a patch released shortly after the developers were canned does not necessarily indicate that more are being developed. Unless someone actually wants to come back at me with evidence otherwise, of course.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Just more of the usual Google ADHD

There’s others. Google Cloud seems be very much a long term competitor to Azure, AWS as others. Blogger has been going for nearly 2 decades after they bought it. Google Docs similarly has been going for a long time and is a good service for many, as is Google Drive. Chromecast itself has been going for nearly a decade. Then there’s projects which they initiated but aren’t necessarily run by them directly which many developers use daily. I’m sure there’s other things I’m not thinking of outside of the obvious ad platform stuff, which is of course not going away soon.

The question is what you want from Google and how you approach them. Their business supports a lot of new development that might not get funded elsewhere, but that approach also means they might drop something when they get "bored" or realise that they can’t really do anything profitable in a certain marketplace. This might just be that they’re actually late to the game or the business model they chose isn’t sustainable (I’d definitely count Stadia on both of those), but there are often other reasons.

You’re right that you have to be aware that the way they do business means that they don’t have a problem dropping things people like at the drop of a hat, but I think you also have to be aware of why you’re choosing to use them in the first place. If it’s just because it has the Google brand on it, you probably shouldn’t bother. If it’s because they are actually offering innovation or new ideas that aren’t currently being offered elsewhere, I don’t see the harm in using them – so long as you’re aware that if you don’t have a lot of people joining you, then it might not last.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Just more of the usual Google ADHD

The problem, for Google, is that going into markets that demand commitment with a plan to just drop the product if it doesn’t work all but guarantees it can’t ever work. Customers won’t commit to something that isn’t committed to them. The expectation that it will fail and disappear becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Just more of the usual Google ADHD

That is a problem, but I’d rather that be the problem than the usual cycle of companies just stopping meaningful innovation when they get to a certain size, then we wait for an innovative startup to dethrone them. I’d also argue that even if Google don’t do anything long term in a certain space, the knowledge that they are working on a certain type of product might inspire investment in other companies working in the same space who might otherwise find it harder to get backing, although I can’t think of specific examples off the top of my head.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Just more of the usual Google ADHD

Sure, innovation is good, but Google doesn’t seem to consider the risk of failure from the customers’ point of view. Projects like Stadia do nothing to mitigate customer fears of wasting their money on vainishing products. Quite the opposite these announcements make it clear it’s living on borrowed time.

Compare to its competitors that have recognized this and gone for business models that don’t require players to (re)buy games specifically for streaming. Meaning their users have nothing to lose if the service shuts down.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Just more of the usual Google ADHD

"Google doesn’t seem to consider the risk of failure from the customers’ point of view"

Like I said, that’s generally a good thing in the sense that they’re not using an assumed market response to fund the projects in the first place. Sometimes this works out (Google Docs was pretty successful as what seemed to be an experiment in its early days), sometimes it doesn’t. The point is, although they could be eroding customer confidence in the long term, since the majority of their projects don’t require upfront payment they can still fund great innovation that might not get traction as easily elsewhere. Stadia was the perfect storm of requiring upfront payment and no obvious advantage over competitors that led to failure, but that’s not normally true.

Also, it’s not like their competitors don’t discontinue projects (for example the list below), they just don’t go through the same tendency toward making everything public betas that Google does.

"Compare to its competitors that have recognized this and gone for business models that don’t require players to (re)buy games specifically for streaming."

Stadia was a shitshow from its public release and it’s largely because those competitors caught up with them. If it had been released a couple of years earlier, then things like XBox xCloud wouldn’t have been so mature and obviously better value and they might have got enough support to alter their business model in response rather than just cancelling. But, that specific decision was a death sentence in the market they released in.

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