Dark Matter Removed From Steam, Team Allegedly Let Go

By Nathan Grayson on October 23rd, 2013 at 7:00 am.

The dark saga of unfinished Metroidvania scare-‘em-up Dark Matter continues. When last we left our intrepid, um, not-really-a-hero-at-all, it had tossed up a “To Be Continued” screen and blamed the fickle whims of Kickstarter for its wet thud of an ending. However, publisher Iceberg Interactive replied to justifiable outrage by claiming that “a more conclusive and satisfying ending” is on the way. Even so, that hasn’t stopped both GOG and Steam from purging their virtual shelves of the half-baked action-adventure, and now, if a report from Gamasutra is to be believed, the recipe for disaster is still boiling away. Apparently, many members of developer Interwave were let go months before Dark Matter came out, and the original team is not involved with the new content at all.

Gamasutra claims to have spoken with a number of sources, and they allegedly offered the following:

“The entire Interwave team, minus two management staffers, were let go during July and August. When the Kickstarter failed, the original idea was to package it up as Dark Matter: Episode 1 and use sales of the game to re-hire the original team and carry onwards – however, this plan fell through.”

So, if Gama’s sources are indeed correct, “an external company” is now handling Dark Matter’s ending. Not exactly an ideal situation, huh?

It’s tough to say where things go from here. At least Iceberg is trying to patch up Dark Matter’s gaping, void-of-space-revealing hole with something, but the whole situation is just unfortunate. I suppose we’ll see in time what Iceberg and co come up with, but I doubt this is what anyone – players, potential backers, or developers – wanted for the game. For this game without an ending, that might be the most unhappy ending of all.

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Top comments

  1. LionsPhil says:

    Who'd have forseen an iceberg causing a disaster?
  2. Moraven says:

    You forgot to include the "response" from Interwave:

    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/202919/The_Dark_Matter_debacle_Interwave_responds.php

    "We had to make a decision," he tells me. "Either we polished up what we had, or just throw it in the bin, and that's it. We chose to keep everyone on for another two months, and use the money we had to make the game as complete as possible."

    At this point, Interwave got back in touch with Nuclear Dawn publisher Iceberg Interactive, in a last-ditch effort to secure a release for the game -- and although the studio was forced to let go of its staff, they managed to go ahead with a launch.

    The idea was that if sales picked up, Interwave would be able to hire its team back, and carry on as normal. Unfortunately, Beenen was not prepared for the case of the missing game ending.

    He admits that neither Iceberg nor management knew that the ending to the game was missing -- they were under the impression that everything was in order when the game was released. He calls it "total bullshit" that it was released in this state, and adds, "I want this to be solved... We need to fix it."

    There's now a small UK development studio working on a real cinematic ending that ties up the story, and this new ending is planned for release on Friday.

    Beenen is keen to stress that this was not the way that anybody wanted the game's development to go. Heaps of passion was put into the game, he says, and a lack of funds meant that they were forced into a corner. He hopes that players will give the game a chance once it is re-released.
  1. The Dark One says:

    Oof. This seems like the worst possible outcome. I’m sure they projected lower sales through a direct Alpha sale or an Early Access release, but that would have been better than being yanked off every storefront.

  2. LionsPhil says:

    Who’d have forseen an iceberg causing a disaster?

    • ZIGS says:

      What a titanic turn of events

      • spacedyemeerkat says:

        That sinking feeling, indeed.

        • Naithin says:

          I am chilled by the team being left adrift like that.

          • yusefsmith says:

            Just like taking a dump on top of another pile of poo, doesn’t make the poo stink less, adding shitty puns to other shitty puns doesn’t make them funnier.

          • Nevard says:

            You obviously don’t know very much about puns

          • Phantom_Renegade says:

            @Yusufsmith.
            Sheesh, who sank your boat?

          • solidsquid says:

            @Phantom_Renegade
            From the sound of it someone who blocked the pipe for removing the poo from it’s plumbing system

          • yusefsmith says:

            @solidsquid
            I don’t know what “it is plumbing system” means but at least I stopped the shitstorm of worthless puns

          • Spoon Of Doom says:

            You think you’ve stopped it? You’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg!

          • Premium User Badge

            Durkonkell says:

            You’re sailing into dangerous waters indeed by challenging the pun thread.

          • TheGroovyMule says:

            These terrible puns are dragging us all under

          • The Random One says:

            Water terrible thing to s- wait, I’ve made this pun today already. Er, don’t bring us drown?

          • Shakes999 says:

            Interwave has found themselves beached
            //I think im doing it wrong

          • DanMan says:

            Never mind yusefsmith. He’s just testing the waters.

          • Sharlie Shaplin says:

            Seems like he is treading on thin ice.

          • mejoff says:

            Plumbing the depths, more like…

          • Jugglenaut says:

            Someone should get @yusefsmith a life preserver.

  3. MadTinkerer says:

    Ouch.

    If they had just been up-front with the exact content of the game, that it was an Alpha/Episode 1/Whatever, this wouldn’t have happened. You’d think after the “War Z” debacle that pubs would know they can’t get away with this kind of thing (although War Z was even worse, with a completely fictional feature list, et cetera).

    • Baines says:

      Except even saying it was an Episode 1 wouldn’t have been entirely honest, not unless they mentioned that the odds were extremely low that Episode 2 would ever be made.

      And they fired the entire development team (except a couple of management) months before release, for an honestly unfinished game? That means Iceberg wasn’t ready for any issues that would/could appear (even stuff smaller than customers realizing that the game that they purchased didn’t have an ending and had an unobtainable achievement because that part of the game wasn’t there.)

  4. rustybroomhandle says:

    Unfortunate indeed. Game looked like it might have been decent, even with the abrupt 80s style “ending”.

  5. SkittleDiddler says:

    I was curious as to why Valve would pull Dark Matter from the store when they’ve left even worse offenders like WarZ on the shelf. Then I remembered: “Oh yeah, money”.

    WarZ = big profit, Dark Matter = a drop in the bucket. Stay classy, Steam.

    • solidsquid says:

      Apparently WarZ was removed at some point, don’t know if it’s been re-released though

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        It was back in the Steam Store after a couple (?) weeks. It’s now called Infestation: Survivor Stories.

      • Baines says:

        Valve didn’t act immediately with The War Z. While complaints rolled in, money was also rolling in. Valve didn’t do anything at first. When Valve did act, it was only to tell Hammerpoint to change the fraudulent store description. Valve apparently didn’t even bother to check if the new store description was accurate, because it wasn’t. The firestorm had raged strong and hard, with all sorts of stories and claims of unscrupulous behavior, before Valve eventually pulled The War Z from sale.

        Even then, Valve was willing to restore it when Hammerpoint changed the name.

        Valve also mostly ignored the complaints on their own forums of a Hammerpoint mod abusing his mod status and violating Steam Forum rules. Some other mods chimed in on complaints, but downplayed the issue (only saying deleting posts might be restored, while not touching on the Hammerpoint mod’s abuse and violations, or that Valve was letting such things happen) and telling everyone to wait until the people at Valve got to work and decided what to do. I don’t recall there ever being any kind of official response, and the other War Z news eclipsed the forum issues.

        • StarkeRealm says:

          Could be, they learned something from the War Z debacle… in theory.

    • Infinitron says:

      The real WTF is that they haven’t removed the Realms of Arkania remake.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        True dat, but we could easily be having this discussion about a dozen different games sold by Steam.

      • Premium User Badge

        strangeloup says:

        That was on offer on GamersGate last week for about £3, and I was tempted to give it a shot, as it’s apparently been patched into a half-decent state. Then I remembered that I had the original version that I bought from GOG and, y’know, that one works and is feature-complete.

      • mejoff says:

        Or Takedown (ironic title): Red Sabre

    • trjp says:

      Actually, I suspect Steam operate on a simple ‘how many complaints are they getting’ basis.

      If they get a lot of cases, they’ll approach the developer/publisher to see what the dealio is.

      If they get a positive response – that things will get fixed – game stays
      If not, game gets pulled

      So, ironically, the sales level of the game is a factor because without a lot of sales you can’t have a lot of complaints – and once a developer has ‘talked their way into staying’ it becomes embarrassing for Steam to change their mind later and so the game is stuck there (War Z)

      • airmikee99 says:

        The Wikipedia entry for Infestation: Survivor Stories confirms this, Steam has removed that game a few times based on user complaints.

  6. Greggh says:

    Good thing I’m a savvy gamer – do some (at least 60 seconds of) research before buying stuff, people!

    • Spoon Of Doom says:

      I don’t think that’s entirely fair in this case. Everything else about the game looked rather good, including RPS’s own Hands On. The only way to find out about this was to wait until others had finished the game, complained about it and were loud enough to reach news outlets. Smallish indie games like this don’t always get a proper review, or it might take forever till there is one, so I can totally understand people buying this because of released videos and positive previews.

    • Somerled says:

      If only everyone would wait for player feedback before purchasing.

  7. Moraven says:

    You forgot to include the “response” from Interwave:

    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/202919/The_Dark_Matter_debacle_Interwave_responds.php

    “We had to make a decision,” he tells me. “Either we polished up what we had, or just throw it in the bin, and that’s it. We chose to keep everyone on for another two months, and use the money we had to make the game as complete as possible.”

    At this point, Interwave got back in touch with Nuclear Dawn publisher Iceberg Interactive, in a last-ditch effort to secure a release for the game — and although the studio was forced to let go of its staff, they managed to go ahead with a launch.

    The idea was that if sales picked up, Interwave would be able to hire its team back, and carry on as normal. Unfortunately, Beenen was not prepared for the case of the missing game ending.

    He admits that neither Iceberg nor management knew that the ending to the game was missing — they were under the impression that everything was in order when the game was released. He calls it “total bullshit” that it was released in this state, and adds, “I want this to be solved… We need to fix it.”

    There’s now a small UK development studio working on a real cinematic ending that ties up the story, and this new ending is planned for release on Friday.

    Beenen is keen to stress that this was not the way that anybody wanted the game’s development to go. Heaps of passion was put into the game, he says, and a lack of funds meant that they were forced into a corner. He hopes that players will give the game a chance once it is re-released.

  8. Moraven says:

    If they would have given it a ending that lead on there is more to come, this really would be a non issue. Extra week of work for them and no headache.

    They should have added flying potatoes like HL2 E2 ending.

  9. Lemming says:

    It’s good to see you guys reporting this, but why the silence on the Garry’s Incident debacle? RPS alleged to want to strive to be the ‘stand up for the little guy’ gaming media outlet, but leaving this one to the wind would seem to contradict that.

    You’ll report misogyny, draconian DRM and the fact companies are silent when things go wrong with their games, but not that?

    • Stardreamer says:

      You forgot to have a go at them for not reporting Windows 8.1’s breaking of mouse control for games likes Deus Ex: HR and Stalker: CoP.

      HOW DARE YOU NOT COVER ALL THE STORIES, RPS! THIS IS, MY FRIENDS, AN OUTRAGE!

  10. xandramas says:

    Here’s the ending to dark matter, dont know why its not linked.

  11. Frank says:

    Yeah, keep the managers. Good call, call-maker.