Google recently revealed that they will no longer continue to make first party games for their Stadia streaming service, and had laid off their entire in-house game development team. Instead, the service will now focus on streaming games alone and helping developers to get their games on there. But a new report says that staff were told they were making “great progress”, before getting sacked just 5 days later.
An internal email was apparently sent to the Stadia Games & Entertainment (SG&E) staff from Stadia’s head Phil Harrison just days before the official announcement was made and everyone was laid off. In the email, hopes were looking high for the time, and quite maliciously indicated that there were no issues afoot:
“[Stadia Games and Entertainment] has made great progress building a diverse and talented team and establishing a strong lineup of Stadia exclusive games,” Harrison apparently said in the email. “We will confirm the SG&E investment envelope shortly, which will, in turn, inform the SG&E strategy and 2021 [objectives and key results].”
Around 150 staff members lost their jobs after the announcement that Google would be shutting down their first party development teams, but at least they were told before the public announcement was made. Though they were not allowed to question Harrison about the decision until a few days later.
What’s worse is that apparently when staff did end up asking Harrison questions, they asked about the aforementioned email to which Harrison replied that “we knew” and immediately regretted it. But regret does not give someone’s job back unfortunately.
The biggest question here is on Google’s ethics towards treating its employees, though that conversation has been around even before Stadia launched. But it’s clear that the ones most affected here are the developers themselves rather than the big men in charge. It surely doesn’t inspire hope in Google and their Stadia service, as who knows whether what they say now will be the same as what they say next week.