The future looks bleak for cult Japanese studio Cave.
It all boils down to what is a disappointing failure for the cult studio’s ambitions of making a profitable dent in the Western games market.
As recently as 2011 Cave was partnering with Rising Star Games to bring some of its hit titles to Xbox 360. But while Deathsmiles and DoDonPachi Resurrection achieved a certain level of success, Akai Katana was a commercial flop, marking an end to the co-publishing deal.
After a failed experiment that saw obscure outing Gunwange released on Xbox Live Arcade, Cave then turned to smartphones in an attempt to discover Western success and seemingly did well with iOS releases of games such as Mushihimisama 1 & 2, Espgaluda 2, Deathsmiles and DoDonPachi.
Some of its brands even made it onto Android and Windows Phone.
However, by early 2012 worrying noises were coming from Japan of a possible retreat from the shooter genre and while these were subsequently denied by the summer of that year Cave had abandoned its Vita publishing plans and by August had lost its CEO.
The nature of Cave’s failure is of course open to debate, although opting to up the price of its iOS games from £2.99 to £9.99 always seemed ill-advised and painted the picture of a company unable to escape the glory days of the market where keen fans would pay through the nose for cult shooters.
What makes it all the more depressing is that there’s arguably never been a better time for small, niche studios to make it big in the games market.
With crowdfunding now such a viable option for companies and a plethora of digital publishing avenues available, it’s almost impossible to believe that a studio with such a rich heritage and fantastic back catalogue of titles (all of which is self-owned) couldn’t have found a way to successfully monetise itself.