The employees weren’t aware of Google’s plans to close two first-party Stadia studios. It happened soon after the leadership praised them for making “great progress.”
Kotaku published a report, citing four sources familiar with the situation. It turns out that Phil Harrison, Stadia’s VP and general manager, sent an encouraging email to staff on January 27.
He wrote that Stadia Games and Entertainment “has made great progress building a diverse and talented team and establishing a strong lineup of Stadia exclusive games.” Harrison also promised to inform employees about the strategy for 2021.
SG&E employees found out about the sad news shortly before Harrison published an official blog post, where he publicly announced the closure of first-party studios in Montreal and Los Angeles. They had a chance to express their confusion only during a conference call on February 4.
Harrison admitted that some of his previous statements were misleading, while also telling that the leadership “knew” that the studios were about to close.
“If you started this studio and hired a hundred or so of these people, no one starts that just for it to go away in a year or so, right? You can’t make a game in that amount of time…We had multi-year reassurance, and now we don’t,” a source told Kotaku.
It’s still unknown what the reason was behind Google’s decision to shut down its first-party studios. While Harrison cited the rising costs of development as one factor, he named Microsoft’s intention to buy ZeniMax as another reason during the Q&A session.
According to Kotaku, Stadia’s game development had been “mismanaged,” including lack of resources and frozen headcount throughout 2020. Google assured that it will try to find work for SG&E employees elsewhere in the company.