At the start of February, we were surprised when Google revealed completion of its efforts to run internal video game advancement studios, and as it turns out, the developers were simply as surprised. Simply days prior to the general public statement, Stadia General Supervisor Phil Harrison sent out a mass email to Stadia Games & & Home Entertainment (SG&E) staff members, applauding them for “fantastic development” up until now.
A report from Kotaku today sheds light on an internal email sent out by Harrison in the week before the closure of Stadia Games & & Entertainment. In the email, Harrison commended the “fantastic progress” made by SG&E studios to date, stating that Google would validate the “SG&E financial investment envelope quickly,” which would inform strategy and objectives for the department in 2021. The email read in part:[Stadia Games and Entertainment] has actually made fantastic progress constructing a talented and diverse group and establishing a strong lineup of Stadia unique video games. We will confirm the SG&E investment envelope quickly, which will, in turn, inform the SG&E method and 2021 [objectives and crucial results] Making matters worse, Harrison apparently later confessed (3 days after the public reveal) that he understood the imminent closure of the studios at the time of sending this e-mail. Apparently, SG&E employees just learned of the studio closure at nearly the same time as the public did. Looking back with some hindsight, one slightly harrowing tweet from an SG&E Creative Director from the day appears to validate that detail.
Perhaps the most frustrating detail in this report is the effect the closure is having on the 150+ designers Google employed for SG&E. Google formerly mentioned that it would discover new positions for displaced employees in other parts of the business, however apparently, the company is having a hard time to do so as the workers worked with have actually specialized skill sets that other positions cant take benefit of.
A call on February 4 saw a Q&A between Harrison and Stadia workers that was described by one individual as “an ultimately unsuccessful attempt at drawing out some sort of accountability from Stadia management.” While Harrison didnt offer the responses some were hoping for as regards why the studio was closed so early on, he did specifically point to Microsofts acquisition of Bethseda as one of numerous aspects resulting in Googles choice. Another aspect was obviously COVID-19, which is a head-scratcher provided how the pandemic has increased the video gaming market in spite of having some unfavorable impacts on development (hold-ups, etc).
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In the e-mail, Harrison applauded the “excellent progress” made by SG&E studios to date, stating that Google would confirm the “SG&E investment envelope soon,” which would inform strategy and goals for the division in 2021. Apparently, SG&E staff members just discovered of the studio closure at almost the same time as the public did. Looking back with some hindsight, one a little traumatic tweet from an SG&E Creative Director from the day seems to validate that detail.
Possibly the most aggravating information in this report is the impact the closure is having on the 150+ designers Google worked with for SG&E.