Google Stadia will be shut down at 11:59 p.m. PST on Wednesday, which means that, since it’s a cloud gaming service, its handful of exclusive games are about to become impossible play. Developers are marking the moment in their own way, such as Q-Games sharing concept art for its Stadia game PixelJunk Raiders (and pitching it to other publishers in the process).
Necrosoft Games, maker of the Stadia exclusive Gunsport, had other ideas. Thinking only about a way to preserve the game in some form (without, presumably, breaking the terms of its agreement with Google), Necrosoft has used a kind of back door to add Gunsport to the Steam version of its sequel, Hyper Gunsport.
Stadia is shutting down tomorrow. This means all exclusives, like the original Gunsport, will blink out of existence. But!! Since we care about game preservation we've made an offline version of Gunsport available in the Steam version of Hyper Gunsport, through the beta channel. pic.twitter.com/AeyR7fDBcs— necrosoftgames (@necrosoftgames) January 17, 2023
Necrosoft brought Hyper Gunsport to Steam and consoles in December 2022, following the Stadia-exclusive release of the original in 2020. Now, an offline-only version of Gunsport has been added to the Steam version of Hyper Gunsport in the beta branch, a function of Steam that is usually used to allow users to test pre-release builds of games.
Necrosoft said that it had made the move “because we care about game preservation... It’s offline, and has the Stadia trappings stripped out, but at least it exists!” Saluting the game’s Stadia players, the developer said, “We’ll always have that moment we saw more concurrent players than Destiny!!!!!!”
Gunsport and Hyper Gunsport are a retro-futuristic sports games in the tradition of Windjammers, in which teams compete to shoot an energy ball into their opponent’s goal. “It’s cyberpunk volleyball with guns,” according to the Hyper Gunsport’s official description.
Stadia’s untimely demise demonstrates just how ephemeral modern gaming can be, and the tremendous challenge of game preservation in the current climate. We already live in a world where games evolve over time, rely on the maintenance of servers to run, and are sold as digital downloads, but with the advent of cloud gaming services like Stadia there isn’t even a download, and the code only exists on remote servers that run at the whim of the companies operating them. Necrosoft’s gesture is little more than that, a gesture, but it’s a clever one, and a welcome attempt to stop one more game disappearing into the ether.