Outside of the 2019 Game Developers Conference, before anyone had ever heard the phrase: “Google Stadia‘ read a small display outlining the history of the game. Dates and bullet points marked some of the most important events, and on three pedestals sat some of the industry’s most notorious flops: Ataris ETmattel NO Power Glove and Sega’s Dreamcast. A fourth socket was empty except for a card that says “coming soon”. A little over three years later, Stadia, Google’s cloud-based streaming console, has finally earned its place on that fourth pedestal, and the curator who made the original exhibition is now preparing to auction it off.
“Remember when Google Stadia had this GDC display where they placed it alongside three of the most famous failures in gaming history?” Frank Cifaldi, Founder and Co-Director of the Video Game History Foundation tweeted yesterdayshortly thereafter Google has announced the end of Stadia. “Now you can recreate this display in your own home! I donated the originals for the exhibition and am now selling them for charity.” The current bid on eBay is $1,525, with just six days until the auction closes. All proceeds go to the Video Game History Foundation
“To be honest, right after GDC, I put these items in their own container just for that purpose,” Cifaldi said my box via email. “I had the idea for this auction during the fair and I waited patiently. Okay, I’m a vulture, but for a good cause anyway?”
Does it come complete with a Stadia Controller? No, and Cifaldi is tired of people asking about it. “I don’t have Stadia, nobody has Stadia, if they did we wouldn’t be here to capitalize on their misfortune.” he tweeted.
It was never entirely clear what message Google was trying to send with the strange ad. Atari helped crash the gaming industry Early 1980s and ET was so bad it became the stuff of legends Truckloads to be buried in the desert. The Power Glove was a classic (and literal) case of range exceeding capacity: a neat, ahead of its time idea and no real application except as A cool moment in the 1989 film The Wizard. And then there was the Sega Dreamcast, an overdesigned but wonderful system with some amazing games that only sold 10 million units and sadly ended sound
“[The exhibit] felt like it went through several committees and decision makers who all disagreed, they completely changed direction about a week before the show and it ended up being a mishmash of two completely different concepts, ‘a timeline of video game console innovation’ and ‘a timeline of video game console innovation’ Collectibles that people will take a selfie next to,” explains Cifaldi in the eBay auction description. “The details don’t really matter, what really matters here at the end of the day is that it wasn’t my fault.”
Continue reading: Game developers and Stadia staff alike were caught off guard by the sudden shutdown
While this trial was one of many bad omens, the exhibition certainly caught people’s attention. “I have no idea where this is going, but I’m intrigued #GoogleGDC19‘, gaming insider Nibel tweeted when the exhibition was unveiled at the time. In the years since, occasional images of the display have resurfaced an evergreen gaming meme
“When they were finally revealed [Stadia] at GDC (I wasn’t briefed as part of helping with that show) it seemed like a solution to a problem I was looking for,” said Cifaldi. “For example, your customer is a hardcore gamer who buys a $60 AAA game that takes a significant amount of time to complete, and they’re paying for high-speed internet, but they’re not buying a Switch or Series S? Who is this person?”
But the gaming historian was quick to point out that while Stadia remains the butt of many jokes, his heart goes out to all the game developers who now stagger away abrupt formwork of the platform. “I have a friend whose entire business is in jeopardy because he made financial plans for the income that Stadia promised him when his game was about to be released,” Cifaldi said. “He’s put time and money into the game with that in mind, and now it’s just not going to happen.”
He continued, “I hope they take care of the partners they burn, but if they don’t, I hope the industry remembers how this went down when Google inevitably tries three or four years from now, again.” to get into the gaming business.”