Following the announcement earlier in the month that Google is to close its in-house Stadia Games & Entertainment development studios, a new report has emerged that alleges management were actually praising their progress just a week before the closure.
According to the report by Kotaku, an email to staff was sent from vice president and general manager Phil Harrison sent on January 27 read (according to Kotaku's unnamed sources) "[Stadia Games and Entertainment] has made great progress building a diverse and talented team and establishing a strong lineup of Stadia exclusive games. We will confirm the SG&E investment envelope shortly, which will, in turn, inform the SG&E strategy and 2021 [objectives and key results]."
The report also claims that the developers learned about the closures at the same time they were announced publicly in an internal email, but had to wait three further days before they could talk with Harrison in a conference call on February 4. During that call, which took the form of a Q&A, saw the previously mentioned email brought up, and according to four of the sources who were familiar with the call, saw Harrison expressing regret over the misleading statements in the email.
According to one of the anonymous sources: "I think people really just wanted the truth of what happened. They just want an explanation from leadership. 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."
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It's also alleged in the report that during the Q&A, Harrison also pointed specifically to Microsoft's 7.5 billion acquisition of ZeniMax and Bethesda as a factor into Google's decision for the closures, as well as the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.
Google themselves have declined to comment on the report, although Jade Raymond, who also departed Google following the announcement, did retweet the report on her own Twitter account. Perhaps we won't ever be privy to the full story behind the closures, but in the meantime Google Stadia has promised "more than 100 games" are still coming to the platform in 2021.