After a three day event to show off new games for Stadia, along with three special demos now live you would think Google was having a good time. Unfortunately, one developer derailed it all.
For a quick recap of the Stadia event you can see day 1 here with a PAC-MAN Mega Tunnel Battle demo, day 2 here with the HUMANKIND demo and as for day 3: you can now play a free demo of the upcoming Immortals Fenyx Rising free, a new exclusive 'First on Stadia' title Young Souls was announced and the strategy game Phoenix Point is coming to Stadia in 2021. Additionally, Stadia's invite system is expanding so that if you do invite a friend to Stadia, that friend will get two months of Stadia Pro free and if continued after the free months you then get a month free too. See the Stadia community post for all the info on that.
So that all sounds pretty reasonable, some nice games coming to Google's Linux-powered streaming service Stadia. Where did it go wrong then? Well, Google are currently enjoying a serious round of bad press and Stadia ended up trending all across Twitter, and not for positive reasons.
The problem was Alex Hutchinson, who according to their Twitter bio was the "Creative Director for Google Stadia" that tweeted out these thoughts:
Streamers worried about getting their content pulled because they used music they didn't pay for should be more worried by the fact that they're streaming games they didn't pay for as well. It's all gone as soon as publishers decide to enforce it.
As a bit of context here, Twitch has caused a lot of issues lately due to DMCA take-downs due to copyrighted music. You can see an overview on The Verge.
Hutchinson followed that tweet with:
The real truth is the streamers should be paying the developers and publishers of the games they stream. They should be buying a license like any real business and paying for the content they use.
Hutchinson doubled down on these thoughts in another follow up tweet:
Amazing to me that people are upset at someone saying that the creators of content should be allowed to make some of the money from other people using their content for profit.
Not exactly a good look, coming from a person who works for a currently not exactly popular service streaming games. Even worse to post these up with a Twitter bio written like it was, doing more damage than intended to Stadia. However, Hutchinson is not the Creative Director of Stadia as their profile originally said. They actually worked for Typhoon Studios, which Google acquired and then became part of Stadia Games and Entertainment. So Hutchinson works for a smaller game studio that Google happens to now own to make games for Stadia. Hutchinson has since changed their Twitter bio to reflect that more clearly.
The problem though, is that Hutchinson's comments have been widely ridiculed and it caused Stadia to enjoy thousands of angry gamers, developers and publishers all calling out the comments. The original Twitter post has been quote-tweeted (where people quote it and make a direct comment above it) over four thousand times.
It's an easy argument to deconstruct for how ridiculous it is too. Showing off a game is nothing like playing music, or a movie. It's not static content, it's transformed by the person playing it and it's free advertising for the developer and publisher. You need only look at some of the most popular PC games around to see how livestreaming has caused massive surges in people buying those games like Among Us (source):
Care to guess when livestreamers picked it up? As another very quick example, here's what happened to Freehold Games with their roguelike Caves of Qud when a single video was done on it, to be clear this is their "whole sales history" (source):
There's plenty of other examples of this but you get the idea. There's a reason why so many developers have blanket statements up approving the use of their games in videos. Most understand it's important, and plenty directly pay streamers to take a look at their game. When talking about huge games from big publishers, most developers involved likely never see a penny from the games doing well anyway - only the people at the top do, which makes it even more ridiculous to want to see more money from people showing it off.
What Hutchinson said doesn't even match up with how Google are working with Stadia either. Google are building in streaming features to Stadia, gave out early access to livestreamers to show off Stadia and more. Google aren't dumb and they've distanced themselves very clearly from Hutchinson in a statement to 9to5Google:
The recent tweets by Alex Hutchinson, creative director at the Montreal Studio of Stadia Games and Entertainment, do not reflect those of Stadia, YouTube or Google.
As someone who personally purchased the Stadia Founders Edition, I have been watching in horror.