AI War, A Valley Without Wind and The Last Federation developer Arcen Games will be forced make ‘almost all’ of its staff redundant next week.
Revealing the state of the studio in a lengthy and candid blog post, CEO Chris Park said that Arcen’s latest game, Starward Rogue, had failed to drum up sales – despite a warm critical reception – leading to a troublesome financial position.
“The sales suck,” Park said bluntly.
“We’re lost in a sea of other titles. About 9,000 people on Steam have wishlisted the title, which is awesome — next time this goes on discount, hopefully they’ll pick it up (but I mean, it’s only $11.99 USD and it’s 10% off already!). By contrast, about 2,100 people have bought the game across Steam and Humble.”
Arcen previously suffered monetary woes in 2010, before being saved by an outpouring of support and sales. A similar situation occurred four years later, when a number of staff departed the company.
“It wasn’t something I ever wanted to do again — particularly after in 2010, that became part of our reputation,” Park recalled. “This isn’t exactly something you want to be known for.”
Park admitted his own responsibility for Arcen’s current position, citing in-development title Stars Beyond Reach, which was pushed back multiple times, causing the company to haemorrhage money on development costs.
“However you look at it, it’s my fault,” said Park. “Basically I overreached with the design, is the simplest way to put it. We spent a TON of time in R&D mode, and then went to beta, and found out how much the early versions kinda sucked. So we did more. And more. And more. And it got better with every iteration. The game was becoming fun, inch by inch.
“However, all this time spent in extra development more than doubled the cost of making the game, and in the meantime our steady stream of income from our 2014-and-before titles started to dry up.”
Park concludes by saying that Stars Beyond Reach is still due for a release in Q2 of this year, and urges fans not to support the studio to avoid the downsides of increased pressure.
He finishes: “A lot of people I care about did a lot of hard work to bring to life something that I think you’ll enjoy, and they’re going to be losing their jobs in about half a week because of me. I figured I ought to at least give you a heads up.”