Digital Disturbance: Desura Owner Files For Bankruptcy

Following troubles and discontent with developers being paid late by Desura, the digital distribution store’s owner Bad Juju Games have filed for bankruptcy. A member of Bad Juju confirmed the bankruptcy filing with us today, but the company haven’t made a statement yet or said anything about what’ll happen with people owed money or games folks have bought or whether the store will continue, or… anything. More will follow, I’m sure.

Bad Juju bought Desura from Second Life developers Linden Labs in November 2014. Shortly after, the first complaints about late payments began to surface. This all came to a head in late May, when Desura finally responded publicly. They blamed their tardiness on lacking an automated payment system, and did say they were starting getting manual payments rolling again while they worked on an automated system. Pretty big thing to lack, that, and not the fault of the developers who were being paid late.

Evidently greater problems were afoot. Whether any money at all will go to developers over the course of the bankruptcy proceedings remains to be seen. More on this as we know it.

If you’re a developer now looking for a new place to sell your games, I’d recommend at least taking a look at and the Humble Store with its widget.

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  1. J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    That’s pretty terrible. “Everything’s fine, we swear! Just a little glitch, ha ha!…aaaand, we’re bankrupt.”

    Although I feel terrible the devs owed money will probably never be paid, I do wonder what happens to any games “owned” through Desura.

    • gunny1993 says:

      DRM free isn’t it? so shouldn’t be much of an issue

      • J. Cosmo Cohen says:

        Yes, you’re right. I guess the issue is hard drive space, really, at least for me.

        • InTheMorning33 says:

          You can pick up a 1TB hard drive for $50 from the usual suspects, or upload the installers/archives to free cloud storage; it shouldn’t be much of an issue. Granted, it is inconvenient and takes time out of your day to resolve, but all in all the solution is cheap/free and readily available. Cheers

    • BobbyDylan says:

      Games? Surely you mean Services.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Yeah. What pathetic, lying scum.

      There are ways to fail gracefully as a business. This was not one of them.

      • Dale Winton says:

        Pretty sure they never meant this to happen. Not very nice to call people who have lost their jobs scum is it?

        • TillEulenspiegel says:

          Go read their previous statement. They were blatantly lying about the company not being in trouble.

          • Dale Winton says:

            So? every company on earth would deny being in trouble

          • TillEulenspiegel says:

            “Lying is normal, therefore it’s ok.”

            That’s your argument? Seriously? Seriously?

            Just so we’re clear, here’s the quote. There’s not a lot of wiggle room: “Desura is not going out of business, we are not in financial crisis. We are moving forward and actively working toward partnerships and opportunities for growth.”

          • TillEulenspiegel says:

            Just so we’re clear: when you lie and cheat people out of money, you are scum. Does saying that make me an asshole? Oh no.

          • dontnormally says:

            It is possible to go from not being in financial crisis to suddenly being in financial crisis, especially if your current situation relies upon partnerships to maintain health.

            Doesn’t make the situation any better, but could very well account for their communications.

          • RobF says:

            It is possible to head into financial trouble quickly, yeah. This is not paying people for eight months though.

            Mind, definitely worth not shouting at the PR person, that doesn’t help anyone.

        • JoeFX69 says:

          They didnt just hide the truth or promise to bounce back from fiscal issues. They directly pointed at something else being the issue. Potentially this is fraudulent

      • Synesthesia says:

        Christ, what an asshole.

      • bv728 says:

        Without an automated system in place, they may not have had a very good picture of how deep they were. Their CEO going into the hospital for an extended stay shortly after the buyout also likely contributed to disorganization.

        And horrible disorganization is at least not lying. It’s just… sadly typical? Yeah, let’s go with that. Sadly typical in companies of this size.

        • Shuck says:

          Given that an official statement was made that “we are not in financial crisis” a few days before filing for bankruptcy (and after months of being unable to pay devs), I’d say someone knew that wasn’t true. I suspect there was a hope that some business deal might get them out of the hole, but it didn’t go through.

        • RobF says:

          It wasn’t hospital shortly after the buyout, it was shortly before people came forward stating they hadn’t been paid for 8 whole months.

        • KDR_11k says:

          CEOs aren’t THAT integral to a company’s function that they couldn’t just pay out to the developers.

    • Shuck says:

      “That’s pretty terrible.”
      Yeah, and it’s the kind of move that I’d expect from game development studios. (All-too-often colleagues tell me about having worked for a company that ran out of money and told its employees that their paychecks didn’t come through because of “glitches” in the payment system, stringing them out for as long as possible before admitting that they’ve been lying for months to get free labor out of workers.)

    • RegisteredUser says:

      I hate that all downfalls, be it banks, countries or things like Desura, are inevitably preceded by “Everything’s fine” lies.

  2. Runty McTall says:

    This is pretty bizarre – why buy the thing in November if you can hardly make it six months?

    • Author X says:

      Maybe they grossly over-estimated the revenue it would generate? That’s the only reason I can think of. It certainly sounds like Linden Labs got a great deal.

      • KDR_11k says:

        Potentially a private equity move? I.e. buying something, using that as leverage for getting a big credit, paying all that money out to shareholders and letting the company go bankrupt?

        • jrodman says:

          Is that a legal course of action? (Presuming you can show it was deliberate.)

          • TheSpaniard says:

            If they prove it is deliberate, no it’s not illegal! A lot of shady people do this kind of stuff, it’s really bad for the economy, and ruins lies. Very illegal but there are many loopholes that get people out of being persecuted, just like any incredibly destructive crime perpetrated by rich folk.

          • TheSpaniard says:

            sorry i meant to say it IS ILLEGAL. Yikes, just woke up.

    • pepperfez says:

      Yeah, that’s a whole other layer of craziness that makes me much less sympathetic to them. It sounds like a shady equity-firm move, only carried out with the characteristic skill and delicacy of the games industry.

    • dontnormally says:

      Their CEO ended up in the hospital not long after the purchase.

      I suspect that has a lot to do with this.

      • aepervius says:

        I suspect it is pretty much was excuse to avoid telling the truth on the whole situation. On one hand if you are doing an equity/debt shenanigan, or having trouble having the CEO not available for comment is a good excuse. Baring total coma the CEO can delegate power for important decision, otherwise the company can carry on, and I seriously doubt in this age that something the side of Desura would have the CEO *manually* sign every checks in the house. On the other hand for company communication sometimes you need CEO or similar manager A level approval. And internally at least the one doing the audit and accounting would long in advance knows that money is coming short. Company have projections , quarterly and yearly. They would have known months in advance that money was running out and a deal was needed or similarly. And could have in the intervening month rapidly have found an alternative to the CEO.

        So yeah CEO hospitalization sounds more and more like it was a big BS excuse rather than a reason.

  3. trjp says:

    In the UK (and I suspect in other countries) the board members of any company (including those with limited liability) can be held accountable all a companies debts (beyond their limited liability) if they can be proved to have continued trading whilst knowing they were insolvent.

    In the case of most companies, this would be continuing to order goods when you know you can’t afford to pay for them.

    In this case, I wonder if continuing to sell games when you know you will be unable to pay the owners of said games their ‘cut’ would count in the same manner?

  4. mrwonko says:

    Phew, looks like the only game I bought on Desura is Project Zomboid, and that has steam keys available, at least while Desura is still online.

    • tehfish says:

      I had a similar mini panic but also found the only games i had brought on there had steam keys. :)

  5. superguppy222 says:

  6. superguppy222 says:

    “I declare bankrupppptttccyyyyy”

  7. rustybroomhandle says:

    Guys, as a developer with actual money tied up at at Desura and therefore actually losing something in this, can I just ask y’all to keep the bile levels down. If you have games on there as a customer, just download them – they are DRM free.

    You and I don’t know anything. They have released statements, some which have been blatantly declared “lies” but in reality these were likely perfectly true at the time of being issued, nor will we know since all they are allowed to say now is what their lawyers tell them they can.

    Also, flinging words like “scum” at people in a general direction is just shitty, don’t do it.

    • Alexrd says:

      Thank you for your rationality.

    • wyrm4701 says:

      Well said. I hope this all works out for you as best it can.

    • Jalan says:

      One can never quite be prepared for how far some people will go to justify being assholes.

    • JB says:

      Good luck with sorting out your end of things, J. I hope you guys get your money.

    • Be_reasonable says:

      Customers are not allowed to comment on the situation? Or they can only say nice things? I don’t understand this comment.

      • Frank says:

        Yes, you clearly do not understand. The commenter is not telling you what you can or cannot do; this is not about your right to free speech.

        They *asked* that judgment be reserved or at the very least that invective not be casually thrown around. Disregard it if you want, but don’t pull this BS where you pretend the commenter was demanding something of you or trying to censor your precious right to call people scum on RPS (where, as you surely know, there is no such right).

        • Sarfrin says:

          “Don’t do it” is very much trying to tell you what to do (or what not to do), it’s just that we don’t have to take any notice.

    • M4rtyr says:

      Nice of you to be so understanding about the situation as one of the Devs waiting on money.

      But I don’t think it’s more likely to assume this is all on the level. I’m sorry but in this day in age businesses are greedy and too many things don’t add up on this one…

      They aren’t making payments because they didn’t have a way to make automatic payments? Well this is very rude, but are they so ignorant they didn’t know what they were purchasing and how it worked?

      Then when money isn’t going out from small companies and they make a public announcement they aren’t in financial trouble… well they most likely are and they just want to calm the storm so whatever possible business deals they are working on don’t fall through due to bad press.

      Truthfully, I’m not afraid to speculate there were some money schenanegans going on… I mean it’s one thing to be slow paying out money, it’s a whole other story when they are suddenly declaring bankruptcy and still haven’t paid out the Dev percentages.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Matchstick says:

    Worth noting that Desura wasn’t the only service the Bad JuJu ran, if you have any files you haven’t downloaded or Steam Keys in an Indie Royale account you haven’t claimed yet you may want to log in and get the details just in case you won’t have the chance later.

  9. The_invalid says:

    Man, this is just sad. I feel really freaking bad for all the devs caught up in this. Am I right in thinking that by extension, Moddb is at risk as well? It would be a huge loss if Moddb went under half as badly as, say, Fileplanet did when Gamespy went under…

  10. MadTinkerer says:

    RIP Desura. :( and Humble are good for Commercial Indie, but the original point of Desura was Indie + non-commercial mods. Steam Workshop is nice, but it also requires everything to go through Steam, and be subject to Steam content agreements. Mods on Desura were basically whoever submitted their stuff from ModDB, so it was the indiest of indie.

    Well, back to manually managing my mods…

  11. Tayh says:

    I never even realised Desura sold drm-free games.
    I though it was just a secondary storefront for valve.

  12. MrNash says:

    Really disappointed to learn of Desura’s demise. I remember before Steam and GOG started supporting indie developers in earnest, it was where I went to get such games.

  13. Gnoupi says:

    If you want to catch the most keys from your account before things become more “complicated”, remember to check this page with your account: link to

    You can also find all the direct download links there, to not tie your installs to a potentially soon to be deprecated piece of software

    • Gnoupi says:

      Actually it seems more complicated than that, and you have to scour the IndieRoyale collection as well to get a key for some games (and that’s not the most simple to go through) : link to

      • Premium User Badge

        yhancik says:

        Oh, thanks for that! I had kind of forgotten that indieroyale was related to Desura! (and I totally forgot about that The Fall Bundle! :o oh!)

  14. wtfvine says:

    Don’t forget the other reason (besides not having an automated payment system in place…which is pretty durrr) that they said they couldn’t pay out yet is that the CEO is in the hospital, which always struck me as a little strange.

    Not saying this means anything, but I looked the CEO up, and I got a very “Duggar” vibe there. Definitely Christian conservatives. Just sayin’.

    • airmikee says:

      It just wouldn’t be an internet thread if someone didn’t worm their way into bringing up religion and politics in the most immature, childish way, and I say this as a non-conservative, non-christian.

  15. ButterflyRogers says:

    Their catalogue of games is terrible, bankruptcy was bound to happen. Additionally, Desura has never had sales to attract customers like Steam, GoG and Humble Bundle? Its almost like they wanted this path.

  16. jrodman says:

    Luckily the license terms for desura were totally unconscionable so I never got anything from them.

    Basically “You can only use the stuff as long as you have an active subscription which we can terminate at any time for any reason”. For a site trying to talk about DRM free, the “we can cancel your legal right to all your software for now reason at all” was kind of joke.

    • Dux Ducis Hodiernus says:

      Doesn’t steam have similar terms?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Unfortunately that’s common for many EULAs; it’s rare not to have a termination section which reads like this stock one.

      That said, I checked Steam’s given the above comment, and Valve actually tie their hands a bit if I’m reading it right:

      Valve may cancel your Account or any particular Subscription(s) at any time in the event that (a) Valve ceases providing such Subscriptions to similarly situated Subscribers generally, or (b) you breach any terms of this Agreement (including any Subscription Terms or Rules of Use).

      It does seem they’ve closed themselves off from just dropping your subscription (and thus your license to all your games) on a whim (or unforseen circumstance where they want to stop you).

      • jrodman says:

        Sure, I’m not completely naive.

        The gross part was when I pointed this out to Desura and through multiple managers they kept insisting the issue did not exist, and that their legal agreement did not say what it actually says.

        This was around 2 years ago before any of the current brouhaha was going on.

        Valve I would expect would do me at least the of providing me with stony silence on the matter instead of completely incompetent lies.

        • Yglorba says:

          Valve would suggest that you uninstall and reinstall Steam and see if that fixes the issue.

  17. RegisteredUser says:

    To me the question is not whether I can download the DRM free games, but how do I prove a claim to the game to the developer to get future updates of it?

  18. HisDivineOrder says:

    And this is why we need Steam. Smooth, consistent, no risk. Just games forever. Remember the next time you’re thinking about getting it from another store, you’re risking your games being lost to the digital aether.

    • DrakeFeatherwing says:

      Steam’s just as reliable as Humble Bundle, IR, or any of these new sites being suggested, things can and probably will change with a snap of your fingers. It’s kind of a logical fallacy to think Steam is no-risk. The internet always has inherent risks.

  19. Premium User Badge

    zapatapon says:

    Well that blows. Not only because I have a large Desura Library (mainly through Indie Royale), but also I had a particular fondness for them, it was a decent, genuinely indie/mod-oriented platform and I don’t think fills that niche in quite the same way. Obviously there’s zero information of what really happened behind the scenes, but it really seems very strange that they ran the company into the ground 6 mere months after the buyout.

    • Yglorba says:

      Remember, we don’t know how big of a part of Bad Juju’s operations Desura was. Their bankruptcy could be totally unrelated to Desura, just destroying it as an unfortunate side-effect.

  20. Cantisque says:

    I only ever used Desura to redeem bundle codes for games that I couldn’t redeem on Steam. Never actually purchased anything from their storefront. I’d wager most of their traffic and subsequent problems came from freeloaders like me.

  21. Chris Wray says:

    What is all the more shady is that the CEO, Tony Novak, had already fixed his profile to show him no longer as CEO of Bad Juju as of April this year, easy found on LinkedIN – link to

    It’s somewhat of a discouraging thing when he’s altered his profiles to show him having jumped ship when he was still very much the captain. Why am I getting an image of the Costa Concordia in my head?