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Earlier this year, Google announced it was shutting down its game streaming service Stadia, a short three years after it launched in 2018. While fans of the service are mostly feeling the impact of the shutdown, there are several developers with Stadia exclusives. who will unfortunately lose their games when the service is shut down for good in January. One of them is Q-Games, the creators PixelJunk Raiders. The Verge spoke with Q-Games founder and CEO Dylan Cuthbert, who explained the unique situation Q-Games is in, trying to get their exclusivity off the Stadia founder ship and a safe place for people to play it. :

PixelJunk Raiders is a space exploration romp that takes advantage of Stadia’s unique “state share” feature, which allows people to share instances of their game that other players can jump into and experience on their own.

Before Raiders While in development, Cuthbert said, Google was showing off Stadia to developers, and he immediately latched onto the idea that players would be able to share their in-game experience with others. “We built a game around those core ideas, and it was a fun design challenge,” Cuthbert said.

As a development Raiders continued, Cuthbert wanted to express more ideas about his team for the game, extending its development time. But about six months ago Raiders release, he began to think that Stadia might be in trouble.

“Although we wanted to further develop the game, [our Stadia representative] “No, you really have to deliver it or it might not,” Cuthbert said.

Raiders launched in March 2021 to less than glowing reviews. At the time, Google had already shut down the studio it had started, led by Jade Raymond, to create first-party games for the service.

“I think the writing was on the wall,” Cuthbert said.

Oddly enough, this isn’t the first time Cuthbert has faced an attempt to save one of his games. 2017 saw the release of Q-Games Tomorrow’s children, an adventure game with a unique voxel art style. The free-to-play game failed to raise enough money to cover its server costs, so Sony shut it down six months after release.

“Even though we had a strong fan base and a strong user base, we didn’t want to milk them for more money,” Cuthbert recalls. “We had trouble building our base income, and so [Sony] close it.’

Tomorrow’s children,’s abrupt closure upset Cuthbert, Q-Games, and the game’s die-hard fans.

“We’ve closed it [in 2017]but the fans just kept posting about the game and talking about the game,” Cuthbert said.

Image: Q-Games

“Every day screenshots were posted on Twitter even though the game was no longer live and they couldn’t play it.”

That passionate love inspired Cuthbert to try and revive the game, which meant a tricky legal dance with Sony’s licensing department.

“So I said. “Well, if you give me back the IP, I’ll remake the game so there’s no ongoing costs,” Cuthbert said, describing his negotiations with Sony to release the rights to the IP. Tomorrow’s children to Q-Games. “I’ll bring the game back for the fans, and I’ll even improve it for PlayStation 5.”

But before Sony could say yes, Cuthbert also had to track down various licensors of the tools that were being used. Tomorrow’s childrendevelopment, as well as its voice actors and music directors, to get their permission to re-release the game.

“It took about a year to get the permits. Some of the people were just hard to find because companies had gone out of business.”

But after Cuthbert’s shoe-leather-style gathering of information, he finally got all the pieces ready for the reissue. tomorrow’s children which Q-Games did earlier this year. And the fan base is now proving to be just as in love with him now as they were in 2017. “The support has been amazingly positive. They are all crazy. I mean that in a good way,” Cuthbert smiles.

Cuthbert hopes he can create a similar destiny PixelJunk Raiders. When asked how Q-Games intends to port a game that seems to be dependent on a Stadia-only feature, Cuthbert was confident it would be an easy technical fix.

“Thus, the system of state shares, I think, can be copied,” he said. “Going in from videos and stuff obviously couldn’t be done, but in the end it didn’t really matter [of development]so I think it’s actually good.”

A screenshot from PixelJunk Raiders of a human player dodging a laser bolt fired from a jellyfish-like creature against a sandy landscape

Image: Q-Games

Where Cuthbert feels he might find some friction is with Google. After the reissue challenge Tomorrow’s childrenOne of the lessons Cuthbert said he learned was to protect the IP rights of the games he made as much as possible. And while he has the right PixelJunk RaidersHe says the contract he signed with Google makes it economically unfeasible to release the game elsewhere.

“I think the writing was on the wall.”

“The basic idea internally is that if we can find funding, what we’re going to do is we’re going to take the game and rework it into a more complete vision that we had, and then reboot it,” he said. “We managed to get an add-on added to our contract that would allow us to possibly release on other platforms, but the royalty for that app was just too high to make it feasible.”

Cuthbert’s idea is to bring in a publishing partner who can help with development costs and marketing to re-release the game. But before that happens, she needs someone anyone, on Stadia to help him renegotiate his contract. Publishers won’t want to be involved if Q-Games has to pay a hefty royalty to Google to publish this game elsewhere, despite the fact that the game platform will currently no longer exist in T-minus 28 days and counting.

So at the moment, Raiders is in an uncertain state.

“There’s a guy out there who looks like he’s trying to do everything,” Cuthbert said. “He just texted me that he was working on it. So be patient. But I don’t know how long we have to wait.”

“I don’t know how long we have to be patient.”

Despite the fact that it seems Raiders about to fly out of space, ala Thanos photo Cuthbert is proud of what he has achieved with Stadia. And that, if Stadia were to reach its full potential, could potentially address the issue of keeping older games.

“You can have a system where you can just go and watch an 80s game on YouTube and your mom can play. And it would be right there as a hassle for any browser. So the whole thing for me about Stadia, why I was so excited about it, was its potential to lower the barrier to entry.”

One of the problems with video game maintenance is hardware degradation and the rapid leaps in technology that the industry goes through every seven to eight years. With Stadia, Cuthbert envisions an ecosystem where all the gaming technologies of the past are preserved and stored in the cloud as emulators that people can play with the click of a button.

“I think if we want to be serious about preserving games from the 70s or 80s or, you know, games from the beginning. This is the kind of system we need. He said. “We can’t rely on people buying cheap plastic emulators in a box.” (Ironically, one of Cuthbert’s own games was resurrected as a “cheap plastic emulator in a box” release while he was working StarFox 2: which was deleted for 20 years before Nintendo officially introduced it on the SNES Classic.)

But before Cuthbert can realize his dream of an online emulator service where he can play Smuggler’s Run he should see about Google PixelJunk Raiders.

“I’m just going to wait and see what happens,” Cuthbert said. “I kind of trust them to come back and say, “Okay, here you go. You can run with it now.”


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