Ambition isn’t all you need to succeed
GRIN, developer of the Kickstarted game Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries, has shut down due to the game being a commercial flop. It has filed for bankruptcy, and rewards promised to Kickstarter backers will not be honoured.
In a lengthy blog post explaining the circumstances behind shutting down, GRIN says the game simply didn’t sell well enough for the studio to keep its head above water. It also points out that the game’s scope increased dramatically during development, which was also a factor in the studio’s failure:
Why on earth would we want to increase the scope of our game without increasing the budget. Ok, it is understandable that you get inspired to try new things in gameplay, you have to experiment to come up with creative ideas and solutions. I’m not saying the ideas we came up with were impossible. But changing gameplay from 2D to 3D had a major impact on overall development cost (we found out a little too late).
Collision detection for instance (and you can’t even really see that) became such a big issue so fast. Instead of having a simple 2D track where you would not be able to collide with small environment props like crates, piles of stones or skulls. Now every little element had to collide, every crooked stone on the floor had to trigger correct foot placement.
Unfortunately, those who backed the game on Kickstarter will not be receiving any of the rewards promised to them. GRIN says the rewards have already been produced, but the cost of postage is too much for them:
The people that believed in us from the beginning? People we made promises too. People we have let down. Even worse… people we will not be able to give the full rewards they invested in.
The crazy thing is, that we have most of the rewards ready for postage. All the backer stickers and letters of enlistment just need a stamp. All the poster sets printed, signed and ready. The artbook is ready to be printed, the soundtrack is ready for distribution, the DVD case is ready for production. But we have literally no money whatsoever to pay for stamps, let alone print the artbooks and dvd-cases.
It is always sad to see a game developer close, no matter who it is or what game it made. However, there seems to have been a lot of missteps in the development of Woolfe such asnot budgeting in the cost of physical rewards, to the dreaded feature creep that plagues so many developers.
This makes me think that even if the game was well received there might have been simply too many costs to catch up with. What a shame, this is the first time I’ve seen Woolfe and it looks pretty neat.