Google’s Stadia cloud gaming platform has had a barely competent first year of life, leading to the shuttering of its in-house game development studios earlier this month. As if the service's existing problems weren’t enough, the mass layoffs caused by the closure of its in-house development studios have left players without a way to troubleshoot its many, many bugs.
A new report from Kotaku details the saga through which Stadia players have found themselves journeying just to find support for in-game bugs on the platform. The report centers on Typhoon Studios’ Journey to the Savage Planet, one of the few free games included with the $10-per-month Stadia Pro subscription.
Journey to the Savage Planet is, by all accounts, a fun game made frustrating by a series of bugs and crashes. To get game bugs addressed, users would normally report bugs to the developer, but what happens when there's no one to report them to, as is happening with Stadia?
You can see how players might find it problematic, then, if that customer support personnel were to suddenly… no longer exist. With no way to report bugs or otherwise contact devs for help, Stadia players are left with plenty of frustrations and next to no possibility of future fixes.
Yelling into the void — Frustrated Journey to the Savage Planet players have tried just about every route to reach the game’s developers, and each has been unhelpful in its own unique way.
Stadia suggested to one player that they reach out to 505 Games, the game’s publisher. When they did so, the company said it had no way to help. “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,” a 505 Games support person said.
A few days later, another support staffer from 505 Games reached out asking the user to remind Stadia that, actually, Google is technically the publisher and therefore should be responsible for the situation at hand. But Google had just fired anyone at Typhoon who may have been able to help. And thus its players that are left in the lurch.
The beginning of the end — Google’s decision to close Stadia’s dedicated game-development studios likely made the most sense for the company financially. Stadia games haven’t exactly been raking in the big bucks. Sticking with third-party titles like Cyberpunk 2077 is probably the best financial decision for Google.
The problem is, Stadia players are left with an even more unsatisfying gaming experience because of that decision. Those who have invested in Stadia the most, either by purchasing first-party games on the platform or subscribing to Stadia Pro, will run into the most difficulties of the Journey to the Savage Planet variety.
The line between supporting consumers and protecting your own profits is tricky, but choosing finances doesn’t sit as well when you continue to hype your platform up until the week before shutting down key parts of it.