By Alec Meer on February 28th, 2012 at 3:29 pm.
As the poor chaps behind moody triangle-noir game Flatland: Fallen Angle observe, getting dicked over by an online payment firm seems to be something of a rite of passage for indie games these days. Still, perhaps finding yourself mentioned in the same breath as Minecraft, Project Zomboid and Xenonauts makes up for it to some degree. Flatland devs SeeThrough Studios had a day in the sun yesterday due to a fair bit of coverage across the web (including from some miserable Limey buggers who run a PC gaming site), and then a night in the cold darkness when their chosen online purchase service, Paymate, decided to cancel and refund all existing purchases of their $1 ‘Appreciation Edition.’ Which is even worse than the usual story of the goons at Paypal deciding to lockdown indies’ earnings for months.
Why did Paymate do this? Because it’s a game.
You can read the full story over in SeeThrough Studios’ surprisingly unhysterical post about it, but Paymate’s stated answer when pressed for a reason for their sudden cruelty was “We don’t work with online games companies, because teenagers use their parents credit cards to buy games, and then we end up having to refund them. End of story.”
‘End of story’ is about the least appropriate way of summarising an argument fabricated from uninformed, knee-jerk nonsense, but I suspect it’s not worth appealing to an entity capable of such illogical sweeping generalisations. So, everyone who bought the paid version of Flatland has been refunded, and for now there’s no way to buy it. It doesn’t seem to have brought financial disaster upon the devs, but clearly it’s no fun whatsoever for them.
The free ‘Curiosity Version‘ remains available (and does contain the vast majority of the game anyway), and the devs are looking for a new payment provider. What a lousy state of affairs: and, clearly, if you’re an indie, be sure to write Paymate above even Paypal on your list of services to avoid like a particularly virulent plague.
SeeThrough’s Saul Alexander tells me that the Austrlian Game Developer’s Association is looking into ways to help, and the Aussie game dev community is being generally supportive, so hopefully there’ll be a happy ending before too long. And more Flatland, ideally.