The start of the year is definitely very delicate for Google and its Gaming branch. A few days ago, we learned via an official press release, the closure of the development studios “Stadia Games & Entertainment”. A closure fraught with consequences. No less than 150 employees who find themselves unemployed overnight. Studio director Jade Raymond has left the ship, and a Phil Harrison, CEO of Stadia who still seems to be in place.
In a recent article, Kotaku makes some pretty harsh new statements. The opportunity to discover how the same Phil Harrison did not hesitate to lie to all of his employees a week before making them lose their jobs.
“Great progress by creating a diverse and talented team”
In a report relayed by Kotaku, sources close to Stadia studios shared an email from CEO Phil Harrison which was sent just days before the announcement to close Stadia Games & Entertainment. In this email, the CEO is very confident and even ambitious for the future of the studios. Luckily for the 150 employees who were able to read this as of January 27, 2021: Stadia Games and Entertainment has made great strides in building a diverse and talented team and establishing a strong lineup of games exclusive to Stadia. We will shortly confirm the SG&E investment envelope, which, in turn, will inform the SG&E strategy and the key objectives and results for the year 2021.
Mail from Phil Harrison, CEO of Stadia to employees on January 27, 2021
When Harrison wrote in his email that confirmation of the investment envelope will be “next”, he was not kidding. Only five days later, on February 1, 2021, the same CEO announced in a press release the closure of SG&E (Stadia Games & Entertainment). Thus 150 developers found themselves unemployed overnight. We let you imagine the emotional lift that Google employees must have gone through.
Five days later, Phil Harrison explained that the development of exclusive games for Stadia was no longer a goal.
We see a significant opportunity to work with partners to find a gaming solution based on the technical infrastructure and advanced platform tools from Stadia. We believe this is the best way to make Stadia a sustainable, long-term business that contributes to the growth of the industry.
Statement by Phil Harrison, CEO of Stadia, February 4, 2021
Following the confusion and violence of the announcement, many employees reportedly asked Harrison what could have happened in just 4 days to come to such a decision? The CEO would have simply answered “Nothing”. The latter then confessed that he already knew that the studios were going to close when the first email was sent on January 27.
Microsoft responsible for shutting down Stadia Games & Entertainment?
Also according to Kotaku sources, Microsoft could be the starting point of this tragedy. Indeed, following the buyout of Bethesda (for the tidy sum of 7.5 billion dollars), Google realized that the Redmond firm was not starting from scratch to offer exclusive games on its consoles. Thanks to its takeovers, Microsoft was in possession of cult hits.
It is therefore a safe bet that Google is opting for the easy solution by stopping to develop their own exclusives, to buy studios and obtain their licenses as exclusive games on Stadia. In the meantime, more than 100 games are expected to arrive on the service this year.