Bossa bet Decksplash’s future on a successful open beta

Decksplash

It’s never been a better time to play video games – wherever you look, you’re spoilt for choice across almost every genre – but it’s hard to shake the feeling that it’s a dangerous time to be making them. Studio closures are announced with worrying regularity at the moment and countless talented developers struggling to break even.

Bossa Studios (of Surgeon Simulator and I Am Toast fumblecore fame) are hedging their bets, and the fate of their upcoming weird competitive multiplayer skateboarding-thing, Decksplash, hangs in the balance. If the game – seemingly Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater mashed up with Splatoon’s turf-control-through-paint element – hits 100k total players during a free trial lasting until the 10th, it launches as a paid early access game. If it falls short, they cancel it.

Our Alice said she’d rather play simply Splatoon or Tony Hawk alone after playing the trial, but I must admit being a little more charmed by the gameplay footage I’ve seen thus far, even if some of the marketing materials do grate. We do desperately need more good skateboarding games, especially after the Tony Hawk’s series crashed and burnt so spectacularly.

The addition of Splatoon-style paint mechanics is interesting – bigger combos of moves resulting in larger splashes when you finally land them on a flat surface, with the winning team being the one with the most ground painted by match’s end – but I can’t help but feel a more traditional scoring system may have been a better fit, and easier to explain in videos.

As far as I can see, Bossa are being pragmatic here, detailing their reasoning in this video blog entry. No shortage of multiplayer games have come and gone without ever making a splash (sorry), and to invest months more development time and resources in a game already well past its planned early access date (the game was meant to be released in Spring) would likely be damaging to the studio if it can’t hold a viable player-base even when they’re giving it away for free.

There is an obvious publicity stunt angle to this whole free week/ultimatum announcement, but the underlying reasoning makes sense to me. If at the peak of their PR game they can’t even draw in a crowd players for free, then a more traditional commercial release seems highly unlikely to succeed.

While I don’t have the full figures on the total number of people to try the game so far, the concurrent players figure from Steamcharts (a reliable source for tracking active playercounts) does not paint a pretty picture. On the first day of the free event, the game peak at a mere 235 concurrent players, and on the second, only 177. Unless something changes, this week might just be the end of the game.

Decksplash is available to try free from now until November 10th. Give it a spin – it might just be your last chance.

7 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Aquarion says:

    Can’t fault their logic, if their game sinks or swims on matchmaking, there does have to be the interest there. But this might the worst week possible to try this stunt, with so many recent massive launches. The game looks decent – Steam’s valiantly fighting for bandwidth to get it as I type – but my hopes are not high.

  2. dan! says:

    I saw this pop up on Steam the other day and was intrigued by the promise of skateboards. However, their Steam page utterly failed to explain what the game actually was so I didn’t bother downloading it.

    Did those Skate games ever get released on PC?

  3. Slabs says:

    Didn’t really strike a chord with me. Felt very loose, in terms of both controls and feedback on how/what I was contributing.

    I guess my playtime counts towards their goal though, so good luck to ’em!

  4. ZephaniahGrey says:

    That video explains nothing about the gameplay, and doesn’t look intriguing at all. In fact I’m pretty sure it was just the same 10 seconds of footage looped 5 times. Sorry to say it devs, but you’re doomed.

  5. Danda says:

    I was going to give it a try, but it looks like I have to install some external anticheat solution. It’s not that I’m a cheater, but if I want to casually try a game, I don’t want bloatware or anything that looks like it, so I’m giving it a pass.

  6. trjp says:

    Hmmm – expecting 100K people to test a game in a week is quite ambitious!

    Some of the most successful games took time to achieve their success – it’s one thing to promote a new title but sometimes it just takes a while to hit your tipping-point.

    Steamspy suggests about 6K people a day installed it on Days 1/2 – that’s not enough, obviously – that said, some game developers would KILL for 6K installs for a new game demo/alpha (some people would kill for 6K installs at all!!)

  7. KikYu0 says:

    Played it for.. well 2-3 Minutes. I Guess no one want to give me back the Wasted Time? ;)

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