When Adam played Towns in 2011, he saw potential in the city building game's mixture of Majesty and Dwarf Fortress. Years later, it seems that potential might go forever unfulfilled. In a post on the official forum, the current lone developer has announced that he's ceasing work immediately due to falling sales.
The game's original creators, Xavi Canal and Ben Palgi, stopped work on the game earlier this year. They handed the reigns over to Florian "moebius" Frankenberger, who released his first update to the game at the beginning of last month. In his post on the forum, Frankenberger said he took over development of the game for 15% of the game's profits "after removing all the taxes and the Steam fee."
He goes on to explain that after releasing that version of the game last month, "we talked about the agreed payment and it turns out that the sells are getting down rapidly. So we are now selling less than a third of the x copies a month, loosing about 33% of sells per month. To be completely honest, I can't work for that little amount. I have to pay for the rent and food and this doesn't really suffice for any of it."
That's an understandable situation and as a contractor Frankenberger has to do what puts food on his table. It's bad news for the game's community though, who had hoped the last update was a sign of things to come.
It's worth noting that Towns isn't an alpha or an Early Access game. Development began by offering a freely available trial, which is what Adam played way back when, before switching to a Minecraft-like payment model in which pre-ordering gained you instant access even as development continued. When the game was added to Steam in late 2012, the Early Access category didn't yet exist and so it was offered as a fully-released and finished game. In that situation, if bought through Steam at least there wasn't necessarily the promise or suggestion of ongoing development, even if negative reviews and forum comments suggest the game is either unfinished or simply a mess.
Which is cold comfort if you've bought the game, you think it's rubbish and now it'll never be fixed. I've reached out to one of the game's original developers for comment, to see if we can find out more about the game's future.