The alphafunding/Early Access model has given us some of the biggest games around, but it's still a gamble - especially in bustling genres like the Minecraftbut. Hidden Path Entertainment, the Defense Grid and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive folks, took to Steam Early Access last February with Windborne [official site]. It was Minecraft but prettier, with quests and treasure and things to befriend. Now they've stopped development and pulled the £20 game from sale.
Hidden Path simply didn't have enough money to finish it, they say, claiming they invested ten times more money into development than the game ever made back. That means they can't give refunds, but they are offering more copies of Winborne to owners so they can share it.
Hidden Path explained in the announcement:
"We've been trying very hard over the last year to pull together the resources needed to take Windborne farther in its development. We reinvested every dollar earned on Windborne back into the game, but haven’t been able to afford to continue it at the level required to make significant progress. We worked to have a smaller team continue to work on the game, but that also became more costly than we could afford. There have been many near opportunities to partner with others to continue development on Windborne, but they never fully materialized and at this point, it is likely best to recognize that we don't have the resources to continue development and end our efforts to continue Windborne’s development."
They say they won't release Winborne's source code, for others to continue making it, because they hope that one day they'll find investors who'll fund finishing development.
They aren't offering refunds because they don't have the money, but are giving every owner five copies to gift to pals. Or maybe this now-limited quantity of games will become the new gold standard on Steam's weird market economy. Apologising for cancelling a game by giving people more copies of that game is a bit odd, but folks can still play it. Folks who bought the 'Order of the Dragon Membership' bundle o' cosmetic items and perks also get three copies of Defense Grid 2 Special Edition (which usually costs £15 apiece) and three Defense Grid: Containment bundles (same). And... that's it. That's the end. Sorry about your £20.
As this isn't the first Early Access failure and won't be the last, do protect yourself. When looking at Early Access games, ask yourself: would I still be happy with my purchase if it stayed in this state forever? Because it might. I do worry about you.
Here's the dream Hidden Path sold: