Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, Stadia is officially dead after a long illness
Stadia Finally Declared Dead
It’s been life support for a while now, but Google have finally put Stadia to rest. (link)
The announcement came late last week, as Google confirmed that the service would be closing after three years of mostly disinterest from the wider gaming community. Libraries can still be accessed until January 2023, but after that the entire service goes down. Google will be refunding all hardware and software sales over the next few months.
It’s an inevitable conclusion though. Stadia was always a messy service that expected people to pay premium prices for access to games that audiences may have felt unsure if they’d be able to play effectively. After all, streaming tech for video games is new and uncertain, and until you’ve tried it out on your own internet connection, you’re not going to know how well it’ll play, unlike traditional hardware which is typically expected to work exactly the same in your home as it would at a demo event.
Which is perhaps why competitors within cloud gaming have seen better success. Nvidia’s GeForce Now subscription model, which is much cheaper, allows players to play games they already own, while Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming service isn’t sold as a separate thing, it’s bundled into Game Pass, a service that lets you download games if your internet isn’t up to streaming them. Both much more attractive prospects than what Google was offering.
Google had already closed down all their first-party development studios in February last year, without informing anyone who worked at them. Should also be noted that these studios were set up later than they should have been, within a week of the service’s launch, just another misstep in a long line of missteps.
Now there are questions on what happens to the games and hardware that players have invested in already. One YouTuber had put 6,000 hours into Red Dead Redemption through the service and will now lose all of that (link), and Rockstar have yet to make an announcement on what happens with their games on the service.
This is unlike a number of other companies who have committed to transferring licenses and saves. Ubisoft operated through their own Ubisoft+ service on Stadia, so they’ll be looking to transfer player licenses and data over to PC releases, although they’re not sure of the exact process right now because Google made the closure announcement without informing any publisher with games on the platform. Classy. IO Interactive have stated that they’re looking into getting the Hitman games available to Stadia players on other platforms, while Bungie have also confirmed they’re looking into it. (link)
Meanwhile, developers Tequila Works have confirmed that they will be porting one of the few Stadia exclusives, Gylt, over to other platforms, and these ports will be releasing next year. (link)
Meanwhile, there is also a push for Google to make the controller available elsewhere, as despite Stadia’s many other problems, the controller was not one of them. Its connection method was, however, as it connected via wi-fi, while most other controllers connect wirelessly through Bluetooth. The Stadia controller does have Bluetooth capabilities, but its firmware doesn’t support it, so players are looking for a way to unlock Bluetooth functionality so they can use it as a wireless controller for general PC games (it can be played while hooked up with a USB, but this isn’t always ideal).
Stadia’s death was inevitable, but I hope that anyone affected by its closure can get sorted again sometime soon.
Disco Elysium Devs Leave “Involuntarily”
ZA/UM, the developers of excellent indie hit RPG Disco Elysium, has seen some major shakeups. A blog post from founder Martin Luiga confirmed that he and three other founders – Robert Kurvitz, Aleksander Rostov and Helen Hindpere – had all left the company “involuntarily”. (link)
ZA/UM was originally founded as an artist collective in Estonia, and turned into a UK-based company as the artists looked into creating a role-playing game based on an unfinished novel by Kurvitz. Originally a tabletop system, the project turned into a video game along the way, eventually releasing as Disco Elysium, a game that still shows some signs of its tabletop roots.
This shakeup doesn’t bode well for any future projects, as these four were instrumental in creating the game’s intense political and philosophical outlook that made it stand out from other games on the market. It’s not clear who was the huge Manic Street Preachers fan who kept sneaking their lyrics into the script, but it was definitely one of them.
It’s a real shame, as the game was something special, but as the game makes clear in its critique of capitalism, sometimes things like this simply can’t last long in our world. Gold against the soul, you might say.
Legacy of Kain Survey
In a move that suggests Embracer’s purchase of Crystal Dynamics might already be heading towards something exciting, the studio this week casually released a survey specifically aimed at Legacy of Kain fans, asking what they want to see next. (link)
For context, Legacy of Kain hasn’t been seen since 2003’s Defiance, and since then Crystal Dynamics have been focused on the Tomb Raider franchise and…uh…2020’s ill-fated Avengers game. Two games have been in development since then, The Dark Prophecy and Dead Sun, but both of these were cancelled.
It’s an extensive survey, but it’s exciting to know that Crystal Dynamics may be looking to widen their projects again.
Ed Sheeran Has a Pokémon Song Because We Haven’t Suffered Enough
After some weeks of speculation, it’s officially confirmed that Ed Sheeran has collaborated with The Pokémon Company to produce a song that will be featured in Scarlet & Violet later this year.
Entitled “Celestial”, the music video for the song features many Pokémon including Charizard and Mewtwo, and at one point Sheeran himself is turned into an anime character in the signature Ken Sugimori style of the series.
I haven’t heard the song, because that would involve listening to Ed Sheeran, so I can’t comment on its quality, but it’s a strange collaboration all the same.
Two major re-releases this week, as both Nier Automata and No Man’s Sky come to Switch. Nier Automata is Yoko Taro and Platinum’s action RPG collaboration about androids fighting machines on a ruined earth, while No Man’s Sky is the now finished space exploration game that offers up a vast universe full of planets to discover.
Three smaller releases this week. Monster Outbreak (PC) is a top-down pixel art survival game, Triple Take (PC) is a 2D precision platformer with a gimmick of requiring multiple playthroughs per level, and Superpower 3 (PC) is a management game about international politics.
The big release of the week is Overwatch 2 (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox), which is having a terrible launch with server issues and some questionable choices regarding authentication, so bear that in mind. Also bear in mind it’s from Activision and they have…problems.
Game of the Week
This week’s Game of the Week is The Plague Doctor of Wippra (PC), a point and click adventure all about medieval medicine.
Doesn’t sound like a fun time, but it does look like one. You have to treat various medieval ailments, with the questionable methods available to you at the time, and your choices affect the story as you go.
Definitely the most interesting game of this week, with its examination of historical medical practices and the superstitious nature of the time period. One for point and click fans and fans of medical history, I guess!
And that’s all for now! See you again next week with more gaming news and releases!