Wow: Ashes Cricket 2013 Cancelled AFTER Release

By John Walker on November 28th, 2013 at 10:14 am.

This might be a first. 505 Games have announced the cancellation of Ashes Cricket 2013 after it’s been released.

The game, a terrible mess that certainly doesn’t function as a cricket simulation, was briefly on sale via Steam, before mysteriously vanishing. We contacted Steam and publishers 505 Games to find out why at the time, but no one seemed to know. And now we do. They’re just giving up. And blaming it on the developers, Trickstar Games. This is extraordinary.

The statement is extraordinary in its frankness, so I’ll reproduce it in full:

“As most people who have followed the project closely can affirm, the development of Ashes Cricket 2013 has been fraught with challenges almost from the outset. The chosen developer, even with their many years of cricket game development experience, was unable to overcome the unexpected challenges that the chosen game engine threw up, even with multiple extensions to the development schedule. At the start of the project, 505 Games received all assurances from the developer that the engine was up to the task of creating a dynamic, cutting-edge cricket game for the modern age across multiple platforms, and unfortunately those assurances were found to be misplaced.

The net result of the challenges we have faced was a game which, despite our best efforts over the course of a 2 year development, couldn’t meet the quality benchmarks of either us, our licensors or our customers. 505 Games’ main priority right now is to protect the Ashes name and that of the ECB and Cricket Australia, and do what we can to recompense the cricket community.

As the licensee and publisher of name for Ashes Cricket 2013, 505 Games would like to apologise publicly and sincerely to our licensors, the ECB and Cricket Australia, and their respective partners/sponsors, who have been nothing but patient and supportive of us throughout the challenges this project has presented, and who, ultimately, we have let down.

Our deepest apologies, however, are reserved for the fans of cricket and cricket games worldwide. 505 Games prides itself on being a safe pair of hands on which gamers of all tastes and denominations can rely to put their best foot forward to create compelling gaming experiences. It is clear that, in this instance, we have fallen way short of our stated aims and failed to deliver. We know that the mitigating factors, as highlighted above, hold little solace to the hordes of excited cricket fans worldwide who had hoped this year to be able to play out their fantasy of playing in the Ashes series.

The people who purchased the game will be contacted very shortly with details of a full refund.”

It doesn’t explain, of course, why the publisher released the game in the state it did. It’s splendid news that they plan to reimburse everyone who wasted money on it, but it really leaves the question of why it was ever possible in the first place. Were 505 hoping it would just get buried in the November rush?

The game is now completely gone from the Steam store, but appears to be preserved in libraries for anyone who bought it, and still runs.

We’d be fascinated to hear from anyone at Trickstar about their side of all this. Clearly 505 are making it very clear they believe the blame lies with the developers, and that always leaves a story to be told. Do get in touch. Meanwhile, wow, we have what must be a first in gaming. A project cancelled after the game’s come out.

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85 Comments »

  1. Vexing Vision says:

    Not so much of a first time. There was a very, very dark period for Codemasters when they released turds like Turning Point, because at that time it was a less costly approach to just get the game out and feel bad for the 20 people buying it (I believe they sold 12 copies in Germany in the first week) instead of cancelling it and then fighting the developers.

  2. LaundroMat says:

    From the press release, it’s as if the puiblisher is suggesting the developer blame the chosen game engine.

  3. superemmjay says:

    “many years of cricket game development experience”.

    • ocelotwildly says:

      To be honest, Trickstar games do have a track record of solid if unremarkable cricket games. Both Ashes 2009 and International Cricket 2011 were decent enough, if slightly unremarkable. What makes it so extraordinary is that they should go back so far past the benchmark they had already set – it’s completely mystifying!

  4. Lanfranc says:

    “505 Games’ main priority right now is to protect the Ashes name and that of the ECB and Cricket Australia…”

    That sounds like there could have been lawsuit threats involved.

  5. The Kins says:

    “Meanwhile, wow, we have what must be a first in gaming. A project cancelled after the game’s come out.”

    NBA Elite 11 was cancelled by EA after some copies had been shipped to stores and an infamously bad online demo had been released.

  6. Guzzleguts says:

    Error 505
    Game not found.

    (Someone had to)

  7. Low Life says:

    I’m glad it got a release in the first place, as the few videos I’ve seen of it have been quite entertaining. I’ve also learned the basic rules of the sport as a result, though I’m not sure if that’s a positive.

    • Zunt says:

      Ah yes, the notorious rule CCXII:

      i) If the batting team have run more than 30 runs the umpire shall slowly begin to move towards to bowler’s stumps. The umpire must travel by means of foot-oscillation only (see rule CCCLXXI).

      ii) The umpire should reach the bowler’s stumps by the time the batting team have run 80 runs.

      iii) On reaching the stumps the umpire must touch the nearest player on the fielding team. This player shall then rotate on the spot as fast as possible. Note that vomiting will be considered “Interference with the Runners”.

    • humbye says:

      Really? You did? I must congratulate you sir/madam!

      I had an Indian colleague, and cricket fanatic, spend an afternoon trying to explain the rules to me. The farthest I got was that a century was 100 runs. As to what a run is….. Anyway, in exasperation, I cried “So do you win?!?!” And his answer was: “Well….” If that’s the answer to how to win a sports game, then I sure as hell don’t want to know about it!

      Shouldn’t it be something simple, like “The team with the highest points”?

      • Low Life says:

        I learned that the guy throwing the ball is trying to hit the sticks, and the batter is trying to hit the ball to such position that he and his buddy can run between some lines before the other team catches the ball and hits the sticks with it. Which is quite an improvement compared to my previous knowledge (“I guess there’s a ball and maybe a bat”).

        I learned all this – and much more, like the fact that Ireland isn’t very good at cricket – from Giant Bomb’s quick look of the game.

        • DrollRemark says:

          In fairness to Ireland, “not very good” means they’re about the 9th or 10th best nation in the world at cricket.

          • aepervius says:

            If it was 9th or 10th out of hundred of nation is nice, but 9th or 10th out of the 11 or so nation practicing cricket is probably not that great ;)

        • The Random One says:

          You are smarter than me. I somehow concluded hitting the sticks would be an instant out, like hitting the net in volleyball.

          • phuzz says:

            If the bowler hits the sticks (the ‘wicket’) then it is an instant out, or equally if the batter accidentally hits them.
            Once the bowler has thrown the ball, then either batter is safe if they’re within a small area next to each wicket. However, if they’re still running back and forth (to get runs, aka points), then they can be got out but hitting the wicket with the ball.
            The batter can also be caught out in much the same way as baseball.

            In fact, think of it as similar to baseball, but with only two bases, and that’ll give you a general idea of how it plays.

      • SuicideKing says:

        Seeing that the British invented the sport, i find these posts amusing.

      • bill says:

        If you’re american it’s not really that hard to understand. It’s basically baseball, but each batter doesn’t have a limit of 4(?) balls – so they can bat forever and innings can go on for days. Otherwise it’s essentially the same – throw, hit, run, team with most runs wins.

        If you’re british then you should have picked up the basics by osmosis… or see above and replace ‘baseball’ with ’rounders’.

      • Shadowcat says:

        in exasperation, I cried “So do you win?!?!” And his answer was: “Well….”

        That would be a reference to the fact that a five-day test match often ends as a draw. Sometimes that’s a boring outcome, and sometimes it’s a tense absorbing drama the likes of which a shorter game could never hope to provide. Other times it got rained off.

    • Shadowcat says:

      Once you have memorised this map, you are on the path to enlightenment.

      • Kitsunin says:

        Is…is that for real?
        Do the players who take the position have to match the position name? Like one guy has to have a good looking leck with no knee, another must have cube appendages which angle very far forwards? Also, a silly mid-off sounds like some really demented double-entendre.

        • iucounu says:

          All the ‘silly’ positions are so-named because you’d have to be silly to field there, what with the ball potentially being whacked directly at your head with fractional-second notice.

        • Shadowcat says:

          It all makes a lot more sense once you understand the significance of the “right-handed batsman” title on that diagram. The batsman (“Striker” in the diagram) stands side-on, and the bottom hand is the dominant hand on the bat, meaning that a right-handed batsman will have their left side forwards, and hence their left LEG forwards. They are facing back down the pitch towards the bowler, so their left leg is on the right side of the diagram. The right side of the diagram is therefore the “leg side”, also called the “on side”; the other side is then the “off side”. Once you know that, the fielding position names seem less cryptic. When the batsman is left-handed, the positions are mirrored horizontally.

  8. Player1 says:

    Well, 505 Games should really just shut up. They already pulled off such a stunt with Wrecked: Revenge Revisited, which should have been the successor to the fantastic Mashed. When it launched, Wrecked was already a wreck. Online multiplayer did not work most of the time and the whole expereience was messy at best. Fans were very upset, and 505 Games just kept quiet. They should just close shop.

    • Artiforg says:

      That’s more the fault of Supersonic than 505. They were promising the earth and told us how great the game was via their blog that everyone believed that the game would be just as good as Mashed. How wrong we all were. Supersonic immediately stopped posting on the blog at release and as far as I know have been silent on it ever since. 505 might have had something to do with them only shipping 1 or 2 tracks with the initial release and then making everyone buy the rest as DLC. I’d post a link to the blog but seems that Supersonic have taken it down.

      • LaundroMat says:

        To be fair, is it not the publisher who has final say over the product? If the publisher chooses to believe the developer that everything would be OK, there’s part of the blame to be put on the publisher as well.

      • Player1 says:

        I remember the bashing on Supersonic’s blog all too well, I used to be an active poster, as I was hoping for the next gen best game of them all… I just wonder how developer AND publisher could mess up such a great concept.

      • phuzz says:

        If 505 keep publishing broken/unfinished games, then they should take a certain amount of the blame.

  9. Ricc says:

    Seems like 2013 has been the year of publishers writing public apology letters. There have been a ton lately, partly due to terrible console launch games, etc. A worrying trend…

  10. SIDD says:

    Wow … 505 is slowly but with great certainty getting a reputation as being a publisher that backs games that fails to an epic extend.
    The cluster-f*ck that was Takedown: Red Sabre was/is bad enough but now this on top?!

    At least here they somewhat admitted they screwed up; with Takedown all we’ve had so far is silence.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Didn’t they publish Payday 2?

      It’s less broken than this, at least.

      • Hahaha says:

        I know right a brother a tale of two sons was a crap shoot

      • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

        I’d almost go so far as to say that PD2 is not a broken game at all, really. There was a bug on day 1 that crashed the game whenever you got an achievement which was patched in under 24 hours; other than that, it’s been rock-solid, and the game has only gotten better and better with each patch.

  11. RabbitHoe says:

    *crickets*

  12. Text_Fish says:

    Anyone know what engine they used?

    • Angry Pixel says:

      Unity Engine

      • tupperwarespoon says:

        And to imply that the engine is not capable of creating a good game, or not well enough on different platforms is a very odd argument to make about Unity.

        • SIDD says:

          Particular considering that another mess backed by 505 called Takedown: Team Sabre used the Unreal engine which somehow “failed them” as well.

          Could it be that maybe 505 are just backing incompetent developers who simply doesn’t grasp how to use the tools available?!

          • Mark says:

            There are a lot of strange little studios around the place that have very weird or backward working practices. They often make stuff like simulation/training games or educational games for governments etc.

            Some of the people I’ve worked in games have stories about stints at places like this. Like working on 3D games that only have flat diffuse maps for everything and load the whole entire game and all it’s assets during the menu screen and refuse to stream or load anything at any other point. Or each of the different materials in the world have to be manually detached and exported as separate models because the pipeline can’t handle anything with more than one material. Some studios don’t use source control software and basically the game just sits on a network drive everyone has access to.

            Not all studios are making cutting edge stuff or have gifted coders artists working there trust me.

        • Baines says:

          Unity is similar to Flash in that it is easy to poorly make a functional game.

          There are various easy ways to do something that will work, but will do it in a very inefficient way. If you don’t sit down and make an effort to really learn Unity, you will fall into some of those inefficient patterns, and repeatedly get caught by other quirks of the engine (as well as quirks in how other software interacts with Unity, like using Blender for modeling.)

      • Text_Fish says:

        Hah! So then, either 505 are bullshitting us or Trickstar are bullshitting them!

  13. Velko says:

    “the hordes of excited cricket fans worldwide”

    Uhh… hmm.

    • Surlywombat says:

      Since its hugely popular in some of the worlds most populous countries, its a perfectly reasonable statement. Just because those countries aren’t in “the west” doesn’t mean they don’t count.

  14. CookPassBabtridge says:

    The rustling beards and flailing alma mater coloured caps indicate that the “cricket community” does indeed demand recompense. Only the sacrifice of a working class child from Birmingham will do.

    Or muffins. Either is fine.

  15. Bimble says:

    So this isn’t CryEngine3?

  16. DThor says:

    My guess is there was some expectation of follow up patches that might make the game playable, but the devs made an outline plan after release that clearly wouldn’t address the issues. Or, lawyers. I’m guessing Unity could be used to make a solid “Crush the Lawyers” sim, though. Better Fall, Saul!

  17. luke_osullivan says:

    I’m one of the people who actually bought this and am very happy to find I’ll be getting a refund. The thing is, I am desperate for a good cricket game on the PC and will clutch at any straw. I also own the equally dreadful and broken Cricket Revolution on Steam, but at least that was cheap. If anyone can recommend me a cricket title that actually plays decently I’d be very grateful.

    And while I’m on the subject, I’d also love a decent boxing game. I have always been gutted that EA’s Fight Night series didn’t make it from the xbox to the PC. Suggestions welcome, again.

  18. The Random One says:

    “…and unfortunately those assurances were found to be misplaced.”

    No, your faith, or your trust, in those assurances were misplaced.

    If you’re going to use weasel words at least use them right.

  19. Vernalagnia says:

    Cricket is one of the only things to rile up my American jingoism. We made that game so much better. And baseball is like the least interesting of the American sports.

    • DickSocrates says:

      I don’t know about “better”, but it’s certainly more American. As with most sports enjoyed around the world, it’s only America that doesn’t embrace it as the US is such an insular nation (though less so in recent years thanks to the Internet). Why go anywhere else or play against anyone else when the country is so big and offers so much variety?

    • Hahaha says:

      So you didn’t just use rounders as a base :p

    • iucounu says:

      No, cricket is WAY better than baseball.

      Baseball is a very dull game in which very similar pitchers hurl unbouncing balls at a roster of batters who routinely include asterisk-laden steroid monsters, who then try to biff them in to entirely static fields in almost-identical stadia. You need to play a million games a season to discover enough of a statistical edge in this borefest to make anyone the winner of anything.

      Cricket is a game in which a whole bunch of initial conditions are ALL UP IN YOUR SHIT. The ball generally has to bounce, so the nature and condition of what it’s bouncing ON has a lot of say in where it goes after pitching. The weather has a big say. The exact geography of the cricket ground says a lot about how matches will play out. You have to adapt to that. Bowlers are nuttily different. You have spin, seam and swing going on, at a dizzying variety of paces and trajectories. Fielders can be basically anywhere and change at any time. Every ball you need to adjust to precisely what’s happening, and the variety of possible situations are exponentially greater than those in baseball.

      The bowling. The bowling is coming in at up to 95mph. The helpful bounce that takes some of the pace off it is also causing it to move off the pitch in ways that are unpredictable. In baseball, if you get cracked in the head because you misjudge it, they give you a base. In cricket, you get nothing. You get to be intimidated, because the next ball is probably going to be faster. You can, however, decline to play at a ball if it isn’t going to take your wicket, adding another subtlety to the game, letting the dynamic between the bowler and the batsman fluctuate in a manner that boring, rubbish baseball doesn’t.

      I would also mention that the greatest sportsman of modern times – empirically – was a cricketer, so suck it, other sports! I thank you.

      • Timothy says:

        Hear, hear!

      • Ingall says:

        I like the cut of your jib and agree with most of your points (although I do actually like baseball as well).

        In cricket, every ball is a battle of epic proportions. There are so many variables. The arena, the pitch, the outfield, the line of the delivery, the length of the delivery, the swing, deviation, the shot selection, the field placements, the decision to run or not, then the decision to run again on an overthrow, the choice of end for a fielder to attempt a runout just to name a few. Then it all happens (wicket, run, or nothing) and the bowler turns around and walks back to his run up. And this magnificence goes on for 6 hours a day for 5 days, then a week later it all happens again. It’s fucking glorious!

      • Gerbick says:

        Quite an excellent summary, Sir/Madam!

    • Sharlie Shaplin says:

      Baseball is actually based on a game invented in England in 1744, called rounders. Cricket is something else. :p

  20. cyrenic says:

    This reminds me of APB. Since it was online only and shut down so quickly, it had the distinction of having $50 boxes sitting on store shelves that would do absolutely nothing if someone bought it.

  21. rickenbacker says:

    Still not as bad as Actalogic/UIG canceling Agricultural Sim after release, not telling anyone, and STILL SELLING IT at full price!

  22. kwyjibo says:

    They’re just going to patch and reskin it and then release it as something else.

    What’s that, 2015 Cricket World Cup?

  23. ffordesoon says:

    I kind of want to buy the game now. I know actually playing it would be akin to covering my hate receptors in gasoline and lighting them on fire, but when you make it impossible for me to get something, I immediately want it.

    Am I the only one with this problem?

  24. LeisurelyLarry says:

    Trickstar have received at least one public money grant from Screen Australia, that is for the game Rotorhead, the grant announced in September 2013.

    In March 2013 it was reported that a former employee of Trickstar was leaving for a new job… “Today was my last day at Trickstar Games. I’ve been with the company – in its many forms – for almost 10 years, but a recent job opportunity was too perfect to resist. As of next Tuesday, I will be working for Screen Australia as the Investment Manager for their new Online & Interactive Entertainment fund.”

    Yep, former Trickstar employee is working — in a senior capacity — at the office which hands out gaming grants, including to Trickstar.

    Your money at work. (Australians)

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