Sega has responded, sending us this statement, saying that it has amended the Steam entry:
“SEGA Europe reached out to former members of the Golden Axe: Reborn dev team to produce this prototype of the game for Steam as part of our 60th Anniversary celebrations. We wanted to bring the work of the developers at the time to light and celebrate it as a part of our history. Something we didn’t get the chance to do first time around. We certainly didn’t mean to dredge up painful memories for Mr. Dawson and his former colleagues or appear disrespectful. We’ve removed the line from the Steam copy that could have been taken as a slur on the development and would like to reassure everyone that it was intended as a comment on the build we had ported to PC, not the quality of the original work. We’re hoping lots of fans play the prototype and can appreciate the work he and his colleagues put into this developing this prototype.”
Sega took an unusual move today in posting a demo of a cancelled Golden Axe reboot on Steam, to release on October 18th. Jokingly re-titled Golden Axed, the games release is part of Sega’s 60th anniversary celebrations and appears to be free.
“Golden Axed may be janky, may be buggy, may be an artifact of its time, but it offers a unique glimpse into the prospect of a project that could have been, and a rare peek behind the curtain at the sometimes tumultuous world of video game development,” says the Steam page.
However, the move has angered one of the original developers, Tim Dawson, who created the demo along with others, in just two weeks while working at the now defunct SEGA Studios Australia.
“Woke up to the surprising news that Sega is releasing the Golden Axe prototype I coded in 2012 under crunch conditions… This project was my personal nexus of nightmare hours, inept management, industry realisations and heroics achieved with a small team under unreasonable conditions, so it’s an odd feeling to see it surface eight years later without context, credits and with a joke title sequence,” said Dawson on Twitter.
He goes on to explain that it had to be delivered in just two weeks, with no time to iterate. He complains about an unnamed lead designer, unhelpful management, and some pretty extreme hours: “I had been working 14 hour days”
It certainly feels like this was part of larger and ongoing issues, after all the studio shut less than a year after the demo was made, so things were likely already troubled. And the pain Dawson describes seems to be far in excess of what any two week period could entail, especially when recalled eight years later.
Dawson is now at Witch Beam Games making Unpacking.