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Bring the Ascension Deckbuilding Game to Android and PC with new features like online tournaments, campaign mode, and more!
Bring the Ascension Deckbuilding Game to Android and PC with new features like online tournaments, campaign mode, and more!
2,754 backers pledged $184,563 to help bring this project to life.

Ascension Online Playdek Deal: Follow-Up and FAQ

Posted by Stone Blade Entertainment (Creator)

While many people were happy to hear our announcement this week that we are renewing our partnership with Playdek to develop Ascension on iOS, as well as Android and PC, there has been a lot of very understandable confusion and frustration as well. We wanted to provide some insight into how and why we got to this point.  

Our goal has always been to bring a high quality version of Ascension to Android and PC as quickly as possible. We initially approached Playdek to continue to work with them after the excellent job they did on the iOS app, but they had other commitments at that time that prevented them from being able to tackle the project.

When we discussed our options then, our engineers felt like with additional resources we would be able to handle the task of bringing Ascension to Android and PC ourselves. We were in the process of building out our infrastructure for SolForge, and we thought we would be able to lean on a significant amount of that work to make Ascension development faster and easier.

It was based on this plan that we launched the Ascension Online Kickstarter. The success of the Kickstarter allowed us to hire engineers to work exclusively on Ascension. Unfortunately, we are humbled to admit that we vastly overestimated the amount of Solforge infrastructure that could be reused and underestimated the amount of work and time required to get Ascension to the quality level you expect and deserve.

Earlier this year, while we were iterating on our Ascension PC Beta client and trying to get it to a place we were happy with, Playdek approached us and told us that they now had the development bandwidth to produce Ascension for Android and PC, as well as to continue making expansions for iOS. This happened around the time that we were gathering feedback from you, our backers in our PC beta, and your responses indicated that you were unhappy with the direction and progress of our own client and strongly preferred the Playdek iOS client.

While it was not an easy decision to abandon the work that we had done (and all of the money and time spent working on the internal version), ultimately the direction we chose boiled down to the reason we came to you on Kickstarter in the first place - to bring a high quality version of Ascension to Android and PC as quickly as possible. 

We felt like renewing our partnership with Playdek was the best way we could fulfill our commitment to actually deliver the quality game you deserve. We would have loved to have been able to communicate more with you about this process, but we were in contract negotiations with Playdek up until Monday night when we posted the announcement. The last thing we wanted to do at this point was to share that kind of news with you before it was finalized and then have the deal fall apart.

Ultimately, we underestimated the scope and difficulty of the project. We did not meet our own expectations, nor yours, and recognized that the best way to deliver on our promise of Ascension on Android and PC as quickly as possible was to take Playdek up on their partnership offer.

Because this deal has been in the works for a while, Playdek has already been working on development on both Android and new iOS expansions, and you should see the fruits of that labor soon. Ultimately, that’s what this has always been about – getting great games into the hands of our fans.

We have understandably gotten a lot of questions in the past few days, and we wanted to take the time to address some of them here:

Q: Why didn't SBE just work with Playdek long ago?

A: Playdek was very busy with other projects and was unable to commit to the project last year. We believed a dedicated team could get the job done faster. This has since changed, and they have more resources available to commit to the project now.

Q: What happened to money from the Kickstarter?

A: We spent the KS money on physical goods fulfillment and digital development. As a company, it was incredibly difficult to throw away the work we had done on Ascension Online, to only pay for development once again with our new partnership, but we felt it was the best thing for the community. We have lost money on this Kickstarter but remain committed to delivering on our promises and believe that the end product will be worth it.

Q: Will the PC version still be distributed via Steam?

A: Unclear. We are still in discussions with Playdek on this issue and will keep you posted on the results.

Q: What is the estimated ETA (summer, fall, etc) for all of the digital items?

A: One lesson we have learned is that predicting timelines is always a tricky business. We are working to get the major platforms delivered ASAP (android this summer, PC in Fall/Winter). We will be fulfilling all of the backer promises including Skins, Avatars, Digital Ascension for life, etc. but cannot commit to a timeline now. We will, however, commit to better communication as we get more details on implementation.

Q: Are you still planning on allowing public betas for Android and PC? 

Kickstarter backers will still have beta access for early versions of the game. In fact, the Android beta invitation will be coming out this month!

Q: What about the Ultimate Collector’s Edition? I don’t like the look of the new box!

A: We feel the Collector’s Edition box is very high quality and the pictures posted don’t do it justice. We went through many iterations to get to this point. That being said, this project is about you and we want you to be happy with what you are getting. We will dedicate a future update to giving more details on the CE and will work with the community to deliver the best quality product we can.

As always, we want to thank you for your support. We understand that this has been a frustrating experience for many of you, and it pains us to know that some of our most loyal fans feel let down. In the end, we want to do right by you, because you're the reason that we can do this at all. 


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    1. Missing avatar

      Victor Semensi on

      Could we at least get in game chat for the 182K you got from us?

    2. Brent Sieling

      This is great news! I'm not sure why some people are so bitter about this, and want refunds - you will get what you paid for (Android and PC). Who cares what you bought for iOS? (I personally have all of the iOS expansions, but I backed this to continue expanding the community of players and push development of more expansions.) The most important thing is you will get a game you can truly enjoy - the Playdeck version is far superior to the beta they were developing. I'm personally happy that SB was willing to listen to backers, and not try to force a bad product on us, just because "they sank all that money into it". It takes real class to admit that things didn't work out as planned, and change course to make things better.

    3. Missing avatar

      Brian on

      Stop complaining about already having the iOS expansions already. That was your own decision. The Digital backers are still getting their promised expansions, does it really matter which developer provides them? If they went through with their own iOS app, would you have complained to Playdek for your money back because something better came along?

      Working with Playdek again is in the best interest for the future of their company, and best interest for the players as well. We are getting our high-quality, cross-platform Ascension we originally pledged for. They realized the complexity of the task and decided to contract it out to a company capable of delivering a polished app. I implore everybody bitter about this whole ordeal to look up recent criticisms and the history of the WotC MTGO Beta client, as a perfect example of what happens when a company tries to keep their app development local.

    4. Missing avatar

      Ryan Seney on

      Thank you for the follow-up information. It sounds like the resource allocation issues at Playdek have sorted themselves out a bit which means the original reason for the in-house Ascension Online app is no longer valid. That's cool, and I think renewing the contract with Playdek is a wise move considering the current state of the AO beta and how late this project is. I don't feel that my money has been wasted because if Playdek hadn't got their house in order we'd just have a very late project.

      That said, I am hoping that something will be done to compensate existing iOS owners who pledged money expecting to migrate their existing expansions from Playdek Ascension to Ascension Online. I'm guessing the reason nothing has been said is because this is still being negotiated / figured out by SB and Playdek. But a simple "we're looking into it" would be nice.

      I get that it's probably not easy for SB/Playdek to determine which backers already owns which expansions, but I think it would be really nice if some sort of credit was provided all $10+ backers so they could either get the Year 1 and Year 2 sets (ie. for the new Android/PC users) or apply it toward the year 3 and year 4 sets (ie. for iOS users who already own Year 1 and Year 2). Or some combination thereof. I don't know how feasible that is with the current Playdek framework, but this would be my preferred solution.

      Also, I would love to hear some confirmation about the status of the campaign mode. I'm hoping that with a polished app this would allow SB to focus on this feature and the tournament mode, but I don't think much has been said on this front yet. I know it's still early, but a simple yes/no on these features would be appreciated.

      Finally, would it be possible for Playdek to decouple the background music, title screen, and the digital playmat from each expansion? With some of us now getting an exclusive digital playmat, I think it would be nice for us to have more customization options for our experience. For example, I really like the music track from RotF but I would like to have the option to use the upcoming Kickstarter playmat and the title screen from the latest expansion. Is that something Playdek could implement?

    5. Nick on

      Thanks for the 2nd update. The first was really missing a lot of info, and this clarifies a lot of things.

      What I got out of this is: You tried, messed up, spent all the money, so you made a deal with this company (Playdek) and you're still going to make good on as many KS promises as you can. The game is still coming out on all platforms, etc etc.

      More than anything, I appreciate being told what the heck is happening. The wall of silence from this company has left such a bad taste, in my opinion you can only improve from here out.

      I can't say for everyone of course, but I'd appreciate it if you cut out the biz-speak and fluff words, and just get right to the point in updates. We're backers, not the general public. Thanks.

    6. Cliff Hicks on

      We're still faced with the core problem we had before, guys - a sizable number of your backers have double-bought content. I appreciate you wanting to be open and transparent about this, but this update answers a bunch of questions I didn't see people asking, and ignored a bunch of questions I HAVE seen people asking. If you're still figuring it out, say that.

      The core problem here is that underlying thing many of us backed, i.e. refunding Ascension so we could continue to play on our iOS devices, is now not what we're getting - we already have that. Do the right thing here, guys. Figure out somewhat to make up for a good portion of your userbase giving you capital and buying content twice, preferably by giving us some of the next content on you. I think it's the least you can do here.

    7. Brandon on

      Another kickstarter gone terribly wrong. Refund please.

    8. vantagegt

      I'd like to hear more about your plans for (lower $ value) digital only backers that already own everything from PlayDek. The value you are now providing us is considerably lower (arguably no value at all) than originally proposed, unless you've intended all along to charge us separately for the same content on each platform. I think it would be appropriate to address that in some way - either a refund or, preferably, $10's worth of digital product.

    9. Amy on

      I appreciate your candor at this point. I was one if the backers that vastly preferred the playdek version so I am happy to hear that they will be developing the new platform. Honestly I invested in the idea of cross platform play and so long as I get that I will be patient and wait for a good app. Thank you!

    10. Brian O'Neill

      "all of our expansions up to Immortal Heroes on Android and PC for free!"
      I already bought those on my iOS version.

    11. DropDeadCriminal

      So is the $95+ levels still holding true?

    12. Deborah Schumacher

      Stone Blade, you had me up until this point "Because this deal has been in the works for a while," You knew you were going back to Playdek for a while, yet you let 3 months lapse between updates. We're not just your fans. We bankrolled this endeavor for you. We are your investors. Please do a better job of keeping us in the loop.

    13. Missing avatar

      Marcus Yoon on

      SB misspent our money, but let's put it this way. We'll probably get most of the rewards we signed up for, and if they did not go back to Playdek, we might be stuck with the crummy AO beta version we've seen for a much longer time than the version that Playdek will put out this year. Let's not forget that Playdek did not help out SB at all last year when SB approached them with their Android/PC proposal, if that is indeed what happened.

    14. Missing avatar

      Marcus Yoon on

      I can't speak for all the reward tiers, but for mine for example, the $10 tier, they will probably give exactly what they said they will: "all of our expansions up to Immortal Heroes on Android and PC for free". The keyword being Android and PC, which whether you use it or not, is what SB promised from the beginning.

      For the $40 tier, for example, you will still get that above, the backers-only tourney, the other little digital goodies, access to the beta, have the ability to reserve your account name in-game before anyone else (which SB did say they will have a problem), and get an exclusive Ascension Online Skin. So you are gonna get what you signed up for, for the most part.

      If you did the $100 digital-only tier, there's nothing stopping SB from honoring the "a free digital copy of every Ascension expansion we ever produce!" part for your iOS/Android/PC whatever device. Can't speak for all the tiers or the physical stuff, but if you read it, you're getting most of the digital stuff you backed for.

    15. Brian O'Neill

      So I paid 40$ for what then ?

      I already own the iOS Playdek version with expansions.

      What do I get now ? Actually, what do I NOT get now ?

    16. Matthew Dimalanta

      I appreciate the candor. I still want my money refunded. This is not remotely what I agreed to give money for.

    17. Jon Klimas on

      So will you honor refunds since this is pretty much all moot? I was in the digital only tier and if everything is going back to Playdek I don't see the point.

    18. Magentawolf on

      That new box is absolute and bloody crap compared to what was shown earlier.

    19. Missing avatar

      Marcus Yoon on

      Thank you Stone Blade, your candid honesty on this update is really appreciated.