American McGee's Spicy Horse studio has spent a touch more on Akaneiro: Demon Hunter than it raised on Kickstarter. Gathering $204,000 back in February last year, it seems they've spent $2 million on the game. I'm not an accountant, but I'm pretty sure that £2m is more than $205,000. McGee has posted on the game's Kickstarter page that it means they'll have to "radically alter" the future of the game.
The total they've made on the game comes to about $300k. That's the Kickstarter, in-game purchases for the free-to-play game, and the peculiarity of the charged version available via Steam. As McGee puts it, "In simple math: We've spent $2 million, we've made $300k, we're "in the hole" $1.7 million."
Akaneiro is a F2P approach to a classic ARPG. And when I played the early release in June last year it was abysmal. Loading it up again tonight, I'm surprised to see that in the last seven months they've still not seen fit to add an option to change resolutions, the game still forced into a 1280x720 window, and remaining an ugly mess of jaggedy edges and clumsy menus. And it's still forcing you to play its bland levels on Easy the first time through, which is just bewildering. It's not a game that, in this state, was ever going to catch on fire. Most odd of all is that it still doesn't have multiplayer, and this seems to have caused consternation with backers. However, I should stress that I've only had a quick glance, and while I can see improvements to the inventory, I've not given it a proper look to see what has improved over the year.
McGee says that they've had a team of 15 on the game since launch, but now this is going to have to be reduced to just two people at any time. "They will continue to address bugs and make improvements while working towards goals like multi-player and tablet support," explains the lead, finishing, "but progress will be slower."
In fact, everything sounds like it's rather glum. Their Shanghai-based studio has been downsized, and OZombie, their attempt to do for Oz what McGee once did for Alice, was cancelled last July after a Kickstarter flop. They're now entirely focused on one game, a CCG-based project called The Gate. It seems that all their eggs are now in this basket.
"Depending on the success of our other remaining title, The Gate, we may one day find ourselves in a position to throw greater resources at Akaneiro. We certainly hope that will be the case... Our Shanghai-based development team recently underwent downsizing so that all resources can be directed towards the one game that offers the greatest chance of bringing much-needed stability to our studio. If we can achieve our goals with The Gate, then we can bring greater attention to Akaneiro."
It's obviously been a prolonged tough time for Spicy Horse and McGee, with the cancellation of projects, and Akaneiro's failure to take off. Let's hope The Gate can prove the winner they've been searching for.