Apart from the sacking of about 150 developers, the throttling of Google Stadia has left a ton of early adopters well and truly in the lurch. Stadia was maligned from the start, and if the latest experience of Stadia users is any indication, it’s sure as hell not leaving a positive impression on the way out.
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.
Anyone who has tried to play Journey to the Savage Planet — which only came to Stadia Pro a few weeks ago — has run into a string of bugs, including freezing on the main menu, crashes, and hanging. And because it’s on Stadia, where the game files are stored on a server farm well away from your PC, regular users have no remit for troubleshooting the problem themselves.
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.
(Update 2/23/21, 2:52pm—On Reddit this morning, a community manager for Stadia wrote that a patch has been released addressing one player’s complaints about freezes in Journey To The Savage Planet’s main menu. “Hi everyone, this issue should now be resolved. Thanks again for your patience, and please let us know if the issue persists on your end,” they wrote.
4:07pm—The full patch notes can be found here.)
As original poster lordubuntu noted, the situation is a complete shitshow. You can’t really blame the original developers — Google fired them all, so it’s not really their fault to fix problems on Google’s service. (I’m sure they aren’t thrilled about leaving their customers in the lurch, but at the same time, would you lift a finger to help Google after they fired you and all your co-workers?) And Google’s support should know from the start that traditional publishers can’t fix problems with Stadia the way they could for a normal game.
Of course, it’s not the fault of the individual support staff either. It’s just an absolute mess, albeit one that many expected given Google’s track record of cancelling projects. Also, it’s worth remembering that games are still coming to Stadia. “You can continue playing all your games on Stadia and Stadia Pro, and we’ll continue to bring new titles from third parties to the platform,” Stadia’s Phil Harrison said in a blog post earlier this month.
But if this is the quality of service users can expect when things go wrong, why would you invest any further into your Stadia library — especially when better services exist?
This story originally appeared on Kotaku Australia.