Digital Distributor Desura Late With Dev Payments

Desura is one of the lesser-known digital distributors, but for a fair while it was a fine way for small developers to sell their games without struggling through the gatekeeping of Steam or other stores. It’s behind the Indie Royale bundles too. In recent months, though, it’s been less kind for developers. Some have been waiting months for payment for sales, and many who asked what was up didn’t receive replies. Which is worrying.

Now Desura’s owners have come out saying there are “delays” and “issues” they need to correct but they really honestly will pay everyone.

Folks have been grumbling about late payments since, well, around the time Bad Juju Games bought Desura from Linden Labs last November. Have a shufty at this Reddit thread to see devs months behind and failing to get a response. It took until yesterday, when that thread started getting passed around the Internet a lot more, for Desura to publicly comment.

Bad Juju’s head of developer relations Lisa Morrison said in a statement yesterday that the late payments “have stemmed from a number of factors coming together in a bad way”. She added, “The acquisition of the company last year has presented us with a number of very difficult issues to tackle, and we have been clearing those hurdles as efficiently as we are able.” What those problems are, why developers should suffer for them, and why they’ve been so bad at communication, she doesn’t say. Their CEO is hospitalised right now, which is apparently making resolving things worse.

“We are not refusing to pay you, this is a promise,” Morrison said, addressing developers. “There are delays, and issues which need work to correct, but we will absolutely be paying all accounts due.”

Linden sold Desura to Bad Juju in November 2014, just over a year after they themselves had bought it.

If you’re a dev selling games on Desura, I’d recommend taking a look at Itch.io, which I’ve heard nothing but good about. Heck, if you’re selling your game anywhere, look at Itch too.

24 Comments

  1. TillEulenspiegel says:

    I’d recommend taking a look at Itch.io, which I’ve heard nothing but good about.

    Yeah sure, if you love handling sales tax and VAT paperwork and fraud and all the other bullshit that comes with taking payments directly, then itch.io is fine. Just hire an accountant and off you go.

    Otherwise, something like the Humble Widget is a far far far better deal.

    • eggy toast says:

      I agree, it provides lots of the benefits of Steam hosting with none of the downsides.

    • DrMcCoy says:

      I admit I have no real clue, but didn’t itch.io add a setting that lets you make them collect the money, including automatich VAT handling, earlier this year? I thought I heard something like that…

    • EsKa says:

      itch.io totally do handle the VAT and paperwork. Maybe you should check before badmouthing one of the friendliest store out there.

  2. bateleur says:

    Whilst itch.io are very cool indeed it’s worth noting that the two services are not equivalent in that itch.io does not process customer payments itself. If you’re a UK developer, this means the VATMOSS rules may cause you some problems (where by “some” I mean completely insurmountable unless you have a good accountant and a tolerance for bureaucracy).

    • MOKKA says:

      There is the option to let itch.io handle VATMOSS for you. It comes with the caveat that you can’t have direct payouts that way, but the option for it exists.

  3. eggy toast says:

    This just in from the breaking news desk, it seems the company known as “Bad Juju” are up to no good!

  4. Gap Gen says:

    I love how companies think it’s OK to pull this kind of shit. Does this mean I can walk into Tescos, fill up my trolley, and promise to pay for it at some unspecified date in the future?

    • GAmbrose says:

      Not the same thing..More like Tesco getting paid, and then not paying the product suppliers for ages

      Which they are notorious for doing, most blue chip companies pull the same BS.

      • jrodman says:

        Let’s recontextualise this in a noncorporate setting.

        Let’s say you’re going to sell me your car. I say great, but blah blah cashflow blah blah I’ll pay you in 30 days. For some reason you trust me and agree.

        30 days go by, and I’ve had the car the whole time, and you ask about the money. I say “don’t worry, I’ll pay you, there are just some problems to work out.”

        Time passes, and we get up to several months, and I still haven’t paid you, and I still have the car. And for some reason you don’t repossess it send a lawyer letter.

        This is very common practice among businesses. I’m not sure why it’s acceptable.

        • Premium User Badge

          Tam-Lin says:

          Because the person who bought the car may well be waiting on someone else to pay him, of course.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Yeah, this is my point, that if you have lawyers you can get away with this rather than being arrested for theft (granted, the point of payment is more vague in this context, but still).

        • jezcentral says:

          Well, what was in the contract you signed when dealing with Tesco? I’m betting there was something in there that allowed for this. That sounds far more plausible that complaining about hypothetical theft-that-isn’t.

  5. Premium User Badge

    teije says:

    Let me translate what the PR person said – “You’re screwed. We have no money to pay anyone. Your only hope is that big bags of cash fall from the sky into our office.”

  6. Premium User Badge

    DantronLesotho says:

    I will never understand how software companies, which deal with other software developers, can’t be honest about what they’re doing. Is it a bug? We understand bugs. Is it a scoping or migration problem? We understand scoping and migration problems. It’s so frustrating to see companies just say “we have issues” without explaining what they are, as if the audience won’t necessarily understand.

    • trjp says:

      One of the key things about being in business is not telling people anything they don’t need to know – admitting mistakes is bad – admitting there’s a problem makes it harder to deny it later etc. etc.

      The whole “there is an issue and I’m not answering any questions because it’s a mess” mentality affects everyone from one-man game developers (Cube World for example) upto major corporations (every time an MMO crashes) – ignoring a problem never makes it go away but CAN make it easier to forget it happened ;0

    • Llewyn says:

      It’s almost certainly a “we haven’t got any money” problem though. Yes, they should still ideally be honest about it, but it’s clearly not in their own interests to be.

      • RobF says:

        Yep, that’s the only realistic reason for not paying. You don’t sit on payments for six or seven months if you’ve got the money to pay it out.

        Well, you could but it’d make you a [redacted-Ed]

        • Cederic says:

          Or they could have lost track of who they owe money to. That could happen during a takeover, with a switch in underlying financial systems.

          I must admit though that if I were a developer I wouldn’t be relying on those payments being made..

  7. trjp says:

    Having never heard of Bad Juju I decided to Google em

    Aha – they are purveyors of game analytics software – they have some big names on their client list (iD, EA, Infinity Ward, From, Activision, Treyarch and more)

    Game Analystics is a horrible field tho – anyone who’s developed mobile games will have run into the nature of it and the endless way such companies seem to consume each other and generally do ANYTHING they can just to ‘gather up all the player data’.

    Acquiring Desura is an interesting move – given their business, you can’t really see it as less than a way of steering developers into including their gubbins (or at least gathering-up a lot of users for that purpose) – it’s hard to imagine they bought the plaform for any other reason really.

  8. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    This is bad news indeed and I have Desura in good memory as one of the early supporters of linux gaming, even a little while before steam really supported the platform, and a wonderful source of good indie games.

    But they are a memory, nothing more. They failed to get hold of a larger market share, and I think that fact is what’ll cost them or manifests itself now.