“So much screaming inside me” – Google Stadia shutdown stuns indie developers

Enlarge / As if it never happened.

Aurich Lawson/Getty Images

Source Byte Studios CEO Nikodem Swider had just held a final late night bug squashing session. After four long months of porting work, his small Polish studio was finally ready to submit a near-final build that fixes all the “must fix” bugs that Google identified before the game Jump Challenge could finally launch on Stadia.

Scrolling through the news on his train ride home, Swider saw what he called “horror news” on his phone. Stadia has been closed. All his porting work would be for nothing.

“I [thought] it was a rumor…it can’t be true,” Swider said in a YouTube video immediately after the shutdown. “[Then] I saw [it was an] official statement on Stadia.”

“I’m starting to shake a little bit,” Swider recalled. “We put in so much effort, so much effort, to make it … But everything [is] gone, all work is gone.”

The blind side

Swider wasn’t the only Stadia developer caught unawares by Google’s announcement in late September that the streaming gaming service would be shutting down next January. Game makers who spoke to Ars (and some who divided her surprise on social media), all said they had no evidence of Google’s shutdown plans prior to the public announcement.

“During the correspondence [with Google]we exchange emails – nothing has shown us that it could be the end of Stadia,” said Swider.

Source Byte’s Nikodem Swider shares thoughts on his experience working on a not-yet-shipped Stadia port.

Rebecca Heineman, CEO of Olde Sküül Games, told Ars her team is still working on a planned Stadia port of a casual color-matching game Luxor developed on the morning of the Google shutdown announcement. Heineman said she was preparing for a marketing meeting with her Google rep scheduled for the next day, when an employee saw the news on Google’s official blog.

Heineman said she immediately reached out to her contact at Google to find out what was going on. “A few hours later, I got a reply that said, ‘WTF? … Well, now I know what the all-hands meeting is going to be about,’” Heineman recalled. “That was a Stadia employee! … So even they didn’t know.”

“People have been talking about it being shut down since day one…I just hoped it wouldn’t happen before we could release the game!”

Brandon Sheffield from Necrosoft Games

Necrosoft Games Director Brandon Sheffield said he spoke about updates and marketing plans for the Stadia Software Development Kit just days before Stadia shut down the studio’s planned port hypergun sport. However, Sheffield added that he always knew that result was a definite possibility.

“I mean, people have been talking about it closing since day one,” Sheffield told Ars. “I knew it was a risk because Google is a big company and if you don’t see big numbers, either by dollars or users or some other mysterious number, they have a reputation for shutting things down. I was just hoping it wouldn’t happen before we could get the game out!”


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