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Explore a universe steeped in celestial horror and ravaged by Victorian ambition in this literary RPG for PC, Mac and Linux.
Explore a universe steeped in celestial horror and ravaged by Victorian ambition in this literary RPG for PC, Mac and Linux.
11,739 backers pledged £377,952 to help bring this project to life.

Weathering a Storm

Posted by Failbetter Games (Creator)
121 likes
2017 was a mixed bag for us. We’ve come out of it a changed company, and we have some things to update you on.  


Sunless Skies 

After the remarkable high of the Kickstarter, the response to Sunless Skies in Early Access hasn’t met the level of Sunless Sea in terms of sales. It sold about 15% as many copies as Sunless Sea in the comparable time period.

We think there are a few reasons for this. In hindsight, we went into Early Access too early. The game wasn’t immediately ready for media attention, we lost a key promotional moment; people aren’t talking about the game as much as we’d hope.

The marketplace is also hugely different to the last time we launched an Early Access game (in 2014), and Sunless Skies just isn’t as visible as Sunless Sea was. The success of our Kickstarter probably also led to fewer people buying it at EA launch, which will have made it less visible on storefronts; thousands of people had already picked up their copy. 

What does this mean? Development is progressing rapidly (check out our latest Exploration build if you want to see more), and there's no danger of us failing to deliver the project you backed. But the business has a lot less cash in the bank than we wanted to have at this point. Late last year we made some hard decisions to ensure a couple of things: that we don’t reach launch in a financial state that would put the studio in danger of closing before we can make another game, and that we continue with a better structure for a business making games of our kind. With much regret, we have just completed a redundancy consultancy process and four of us are leaving as a result.  

Fallen London 

In 2017 we rejuvenated Fallen London, and we received much heartwarming feedback from players who returned to the game for Christmas to find the fruits of a lot of hard work. 

Something that hasn’t been working as well is the Fallen London mobile app. Despite our best efforts during development, it just doesn’t function as we wanted it to, and we’ve reluctantly concluded that much of this is due to some fundamental architectural decisions that it’s not now practical to change. It also hasn’t been as popular as we’d hoped, and every update we make to the game needs to be duplicated for the app, making it harder and slower for us to improve the game overall. Sadly, for these reasons, we plan to close it down in Q2 2018. 

Some good news: work is almost complete that will make Fallen London web look much more like a modern website! 

 

Fallen London Beta Feb 2018
Fallen London Beta Feb 2018

It will provide a much better experience than the current website on mobile, and not impose the same development burdens as the mobile app. We’re hopeful that it’s a better solution for players and for us. We’ll have more news about this soon. 

What’s next? 

  • Sunless Skies continues on its path to launch, but we won’t be releasing in May. Right now we’re working on updates that will improve Movement and Combat (due this month) and the release of Albion. We’ll have a revised launch window within the month. 
  • We’re retiring the Fallen London app in Q2, and Fallen London on web will be re-launched. There will be a further announcement about this soon, but in the meantime if you have any questions please send them to mobilesupport@failbettergames.com. 
  • We’re also officially retiring Fundbetter, our fund for small narrative games, until business improves for us. Giving back to the community was very rewarding, and we have some ideas for how we’d do it again in future, but right now we just don’t have the spare funds or bandwidth. 
  • Three years since its initial release, we’ll be tying up loose ends in Sunless Sea (including releasing the special Blemmigan unlocked by this Kickstarter). We will continue to support the game, but it will be the last update for a while as we focus on Sunless Skies

Into the Fog 

We’re keenly aware that, like all indie studios, we are a small and vulnerable vessel. We’re committed to keeping this studio open and making games. We’re in no danger of failing to deliver Sunless Skies, and never have been. The decisions we’ve made over the last few months will enable us to make more games after Sunless Skies and be around for many years to come. Your support, be it financial, on social media, in Steam reviews, or simply by talking about our games, is as always so welcome. We look forward to telling you more about the relaunch of Fallen London, and especially to welcome you to Albion! 

Comments

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    1. James Sunderland on

      Six days left, hope there's some actual news then. An updated release schedule would make the project seem less doomed.

    2. Alex Campbell on

      ...and thank you for a bravely candid update.

    3. Alex Campbell on

      Really sorry to hear about your troubles, and particularly for the four people being made redundant. Rest assured that there are still people enjoying your work (particularly but not exclusively Fallen London, personally) and invested in your survival as a company.

    4. Missing avatar

      Borys on

      I'd always prefer it coming out later over it coming out worse, so I'm not really attached to May or whatever, we'll get it when it's ready. I just hope it coming out late won't affect you financially - as people who have faith (or really know and are interested) in Early Access in vast majority most likely kickstarted the game, and I think that's why your EA sales are weak. Good luck !

    5. Missing avatar

      Linden on

      Sorry to hear about the struggles your studio's experienced. Thank you for the incredible transparency in not only analyzing what contributed to the crunch, but also how you're addressing the situation proactively. I wish all of your team a stronger year, including those who've unfortunately had to move on to other projects.

    6. Will O'Neill
      Superbacker
      on

      I really appreciate your transparency and your willingness to make tough choices. I loved Sunless Sea and I'm confident that this game is going to turn out splendidly. Good luck, and thank you!

    7. Missing avatar

      Chad Long on

      Way to go with being smart, learning from your mistakes, and taking action to prevent problems down the road. It's tough to do, but here's to a better future.

    8. gryzem on

      The urchin's gaze followed the bearded man as he was leaving the alley, limping slightly after his unsuccessful attempt at jumping from one roof, glistening with mold and moisture along its rim, to another, high above. The urchin flinched as he saw a piece of pure white silk clenched in the man's fist - instincts. A sound as if of rain falling in a vast space murmured through the air and the rascal stopped. The bearded man would jump one more time.

      "Fail again," the urchin whispered.

    9. Missing avatar

      Teklogikal on

      I'm not trying to be abrasive or anything, but what's going on here? You got $521271.40 from KickStarter. Was that not enough to make Sunless Skies and you've been siphoning money from the other departments for it? I'm willing to give Failbetter the benefit of the doubt here, but losing 4 people, shutting down apps, and what worries me most is this "relaunching" of FL itself when it's clear you're having financial difficulties. Are you changing the core structure? Adding microtransactions beyond Fate?

      This update brings up a lot of questions for me, obviously. At this point I'm still of the mind that the game will be released soon and Failbetter will be alright in the long run. Any more updates like this though and that faith will be shaken.

      Hope this all works out for the best and I extend sympathy to those 4 who were let go. Hope you all find something soon!

    10. BrassLion on

      Thank you for the level of transparency on this update. I hope 2018 goes better :( I'll do my part - I'm going to force a bunch of my friends to buy Sunless Skies when it's on full release.

    11. Missing avatar

      Will on

      2017 was an awful year in general, hope 2018 is better. Good luck!

    12. Amanda Greene on

      Oh man, I'm sorry to hear about your hardships. :( I really hope things get better for you guys, soon, on this front. You're easily one of my favorite gaming companies - and you're also kind of a muse of mine. <3

    13. Missing avatar

      Micah Losee on

      I hope things turn around for you all at Failbetter! I think you are a great studio and have always thought that Fundbetter was an admirable thing you did.

    14. James Sunderland on

      @Failbetter

      Thanks for the reply, I didn't back the original but did back this because I enjoyed it greatly, it's just sad to see that good creative games suffer while bland ones are pumped out en masse. Just came as a bit of a shock.

    15. Cameron Higby-Naquin on

      Very sorry to hear about the troubles. I'd love to somehow chip in more for Sunless Skies -- is this possible?

    16. Failbetter Games 3-time creator on

      We'll have an updated released window by the end of this month. Sunless Sea was also a Kickstarter and Early Access title, and took longer than the projected date given in the Kickstarter pitch. These dates often change because they are set much earlier in production than they would be on a privately funded project; there's also no reliable way to take into account how long it will take to include changes based on ongoing player feedback. For Sunless Sea, we took the decision to change combat entirely midway through development - adding many sprints of work, an entire new update. We hope you all will continue to support development of Sunless Skies while we strive to make it the best game it can be. You'll hear more about launch very soon. :)

    17. James Sunderland on

      Just what kind of delay is this going to entail?

      Kickstarter and Early Access are both becoming progressively less attratctive as this kind of thing happens on project after project, even from creators with prior performance.

    18. David Newbury on

      Best of luck to you guys--your games (and Fallen London in particular) have been some of the most enjoyable I've ever played. Looking forward to Sunless Skies when it's done.

    19. Ted Assur on

      Missed the announcement about Early Access purchase availability.

    20. Missing avatar

      JollyGoodFellow on

      Good communication, good luck, and you guys do whatever it takes to stay afloat - the gaming world needs you.

    21. Missing avatar

      Rowan on

      Sorry to hear about the latoffs but great job staying ahead of the game and insuring your future.
      Ps. Even as it is now, sunless skies is still a fascinating and unique game so keep it up!

    22. Away on

      I'm sorry about that happening and wish everyone the best <3

    23. Chelsea on

      Oh jeez... that's mildly heartbreaking to hear. Failbetter is easily my favorite game studio, and I've loved basically everything y'all have made. Your staff is utterly brilliant and lovely, and very much deserves success. I'll be cheering for y'all in the background!

    24. Zeb L. West on

      Hang in there guys! Rooting for you!

    25. Fiona Clark
      Superbacker
      on

      So sorry to hear about the tough time you are all having at FB Games. It's such a shame that you have great games that don't seem to get the publicity they deserve. My best wishes and hopes go to those who have had to leave the FB ship

    26. Missing avatar

      Spencer Cole on

      Thank you for being so candid! I eagerly await anything that you guys produce and hope that you are able to continue to do so for many years!

    27. Nathan Camp on

      It is sad to hear that you're all going through a rough patch and had to make hard decisions. That said the transparency, the planning ahead and the recognition of what was needed to right the ship reads as very responsible. I wish you all the best (and am still looking forward to Sunless skies and your team's future work)

    28. elorebaen on

      Thank you for the candid update! Takes courage to be transparent about the situation. I look forward to Sunless Skies, and will now check out Fallen London. Keep up the great work! I

    29. Jynk
      Superbacker
      on

      The setting for the game is perfect. No need to modernize. However, I'd love the ability to explore the islands and other locations of the world you created. Maybe something of that nature would appeal to a wider audience? Itd probably take more money, but I'm willing to help with more funding. I'm sure other Delicious Friends are, too.

    30. Steven Crane
      Superbacker
      on

      I agree with Jason, that's a very odd way of looking at things, given that you launched a Kickstarter which is entirely the point. Making assumptions and business decisions with that money based on unknown future sales that didn't materialise was bad for you

      You guys were the exception to my "never back a video game Kickstarter again" after the terribly poor and some outright corrupt Kickstarters I've backed for PC games over the years... don't let us down

    31. Failbetter Games 3-time creator on

      Thank you everyone for your comments. It's been an emotional time, and we're feeling really buoyed up by your ongoing support.

    32. Jason on

      "it turns out that getting 500k up front was actually bad for us" is an interesting way to play it

    33. Missing avatar

      Greg Wakolbinger on

      Wow! What a heartfelt update. So sorry for the difficulties. Sunless Sea was so great I hoped it would fund you for a long time. But I realize running a small business is tough and games are so bloody expensive to make. I hope the finished Sunless Skies sells millions.

    34. Missing avatar

      Patrick Butler on

      "No matter. Try again."

      Love you guys and the remarkable work you do. Your 'Delicious Friends' are many; should you require urgent help, call out and ask for what you need.

      You'll see.

    35. dontnormally on

      Thank you for the candid update. Wishing your team all the best and eagerly awaiting Sunless Skies. cheers

    36. Bryan Martin
      Superbacker
      on

      Very sorry to hear of your difficulties! It's sad to see a quality game maker struggling... Sunless Sea was a great game, and I'm certainly looking forward to Sunless Skies! Best of luck in 2018!

    37. Missing avatar

      Lauren Gamboa on

      If you'd release skies on the switch, this would be a different story. Both sunless games are perfect for switch. Also, Early Access isn't a very good indicator of future success lately. People have been scared of going Early Access after being burned too many times (not by you, in general).

    38. Missing avatar

      Wayne on

      This is really saddening to hear. Hope you guys pull through alright. Fallen London helped me through a really difficult time in my life.

    39. Borbála Vékony on

      So sorry to hear about the hard decisions you needed to make! On the other hand, it's reassuring that you are always so transparent about your position, and that you have a stable plan for going forward. May 2018 bring better luck to all of you, those staying and those moving on as well.

    40. Missing avatar

      stobak on

      Sunless sea made me fall in love with games all over again. When Sunless Skies was announced I backed it not just because I wanted it to succeed, but also because I believe this is a game the world needs. I know this must be a sad time at your studio, but please know that I and many others are rooting for you!

    41. Thunder Lotus Games on

      Your transparency and professionalism consistently serve as a shining example to all of us in this crazy industry. That, and awesome games. Better days ahead! Cheers!

    42. Bob Hazlewood
      Superbacker
      on

      Thank you for your transparency. Here's hoping that 2018 turns out to be the smashing success you deserve.

    43. Zoran Cavic on

      These were some really sad news =(. Hope you guys pull through.

    44. Missing avatar

      GuesssWho on

      I'm not sure I see the point of modernizing a game set in the 1800s LOL

      Good luck to you guys, though!

    45. Missing avatar

      Peter on

      I know things can't be fun at the company right now, but lots of people are rooting for you.

    46. Missing avatar

      Anna Ivanova on

      Sorry to hear that. Hope it's the darkest hour before the dawn. You are the best, and even the smallest communication with you constitutes one of the most pleasant experiences for me in my life. I mean, for me as a person, not just as a gamer. Wish best of luck for those who stay and for those who leave!

    47. Monroe Charles on

      Hi. Why not do a kickstarter for funds & offer up old rewards? Some of us were not hear for the rewards for Fallen London or Sunless Seas. Or maybe we'd like to add to our Sunless Skies experience. I know I would donate.
      Or add new little things. Don't go crazy trying to make giant offers or rewards, I don't think any of us need anything crazy, but like Hipstamatic offers "vintage packs" every so often with old, limit items, is maybe something you guys could do?
      Or like World of Warcraft, you can buy certain mounts or pets for real world dollars in their shop. Some of us have run out of fate stories & I am sure we'd love to buy some weird hats or companions or better clothes (the clothes are a bit lacking in game).
      Just some ideas. I am broke as hell & I'd buy some stuff like that. Plus, we like our games, we like you. I imagine I'm not the only one who would love to have a way to help your studio. Would have liked to before people were let go.
      You could also do one of those stupid hashtags events. Like "Post a screnshot or a favourite bit of story or something with hashtag #failbetter #fallenlondon #sunlessskies #sunlesssea & we'll randomly select one winner to get a devil spouse!" Or I dunno... I dunno how those kinds of things work, I just know, people will spam the heck out of friends for something they want in a beloved game.
      I'm very much a FL person (I play all day long), so any perks for that, I'd jump on. I loved seas & skies, but my computer has a hard time running them for a long time & i can't do background projects at the same time. So, I adore FL.
      Just some thoughts as I do not want to see your company struggle & I know we were all enjoying new artwork & new places to explore.

    48. Jaed on

      Thanks so much for the transparency. We <3 you and your work, and it seems to be pretty tough all over these days. Hang in there!

    49. Will
      Superbacker
      on

      Working at a company that went through major layoffs in 2017, including some members of my own staff (whom I had to notify personally), I know how brutal and demoralizing it is to go through that. Hopefully 2018 will be a brighter year for you.

    50. MaSeKind on

      Sorry to hear you guys needed to make some difficult decisions. But keep up the good work and I really hope the situation improves. I want you guys to succeed and grow even more because few people have managed the unique experiences you've created