Cult developer Introversion has claimed that it would have closed its doors for good in March of this year were it not for the massive impact that Valve’s Steam digital distribution system has had on its business.
The near collapse came after it became clear that Darwinia+, a version of the studio’s RTS made specifically for Xbox Live Arcade, was not going to live up to projections.
We had a bunch of creditors knocking at the door, but worse than all of that we were absolutely shattered,” Introversion MD Mark Morris admitted on the Defcon forums. Darwinia+ had been really drawn out and I’d spent a lot of time selling the future to the team and when the rug was pulled away from my feet I really didn’t want to continue.
So we started shutting things down. We reached out to our creditors and (amazingly) they accepted our payment plans. We closed the office and sold the tables and chairs.”
Having drastically scaled down its resources and returned to the old days of bedroom programming, Steam then came to the rescue.
We put together a rescue plan involving creating Steam achievements for Defcon so we could convince Valve to run a promotion with it,” Morriss added. We’ve flogged Darwinia to death over the years, but we thought that Defcon would benefit from some spit and polish.
Valve okayed the promotion. This was the game-changer. When we started Introversion we’d had a string of successes and believed we were undefeatable, but it was a long time since we’d had a victory and we really needed one. Right on cue, Valve delivered. The promo exceeded all of our expectations and when combined with our low burn rate (no office or staff now) we had gone from being fearful about paying our mortgages to having a year’s operating capital in the bank.”
The developer adds that it hopes to make a concrete announcement regarding a PSN version of Defcon in the next couple of months.