Ascension Online Playdek Deal: Follow-Up and FAQ
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.