In 2014 nearly 4000 backers pledged $US100,000 for a silly game about being a bear. Yesterday, despite seemingly happy backers and 78 per cent positive reviews on Steam, Bear Simulator's developer says updating the game any further is "a lost cause". I played John Farjay's Kickstarted bear sim last weekend. While it could certainly use a lot more polish and tweaking, as a first game from an untested developer it's pretty impressive. Not only did he manage to drum up enough interest in a silly concept to gather a large amount of cash to support development, his first game made it through Steam's Greenlight program and onto the store proper, where it currently enjoys a "Mostly Positive" review average of 78 per cent.
That sounds like a success to me, which is why Farjay's latest Kickstarter update was such a surprise.
Well the game didn't have a great reception, has a stigma against it's name and there's plenty of other problems so making any updates or going further is basically a lost cause now. Plus not skilled enough to make the game better than it currently is or write better updates than previously.
Was really hoping the Steam release would go well but why would it, should have just gave the game to backers and not bother with Steam.
Also don't want to deal with the drama anymore. Can't ignore it because that causes more drama and can't do anything about it because that causes more drama.
So why all the drama? For one thing, I wasn't the only person who makes YouTube videos to notice Bear Simulator on Steam. Felix "Pewdiepie" Kjellberg also played the game, and he did not like it at all.
His video review of the game ended with YouTube's biggest celebrity giving the game developer the finger after attempting to get a Steam refund for it. The vid currently has more than 2.5 million views.
Despite the widely-viewed video, Bear Simulator still maintains a "Mostly Positive" average on Steam, though it's not readily evident when browsing through user reviews. Though positive reviews from folks owning the game far outnumber the negative (currently 105 to 30), the negative reviews have received a massive amount of helpful ratings (users don't have to own the game to mark a negative review as helpful), bringing them to the front of the page.
That's not to say that the negative reviews are unwarranted. Several of them, including the current highest rated review, come from players identifying themselves as backers of the original Kickstarter project. As Steam member Tickler points out in the review below, Farjay's Kickstarter communication hasn't been stellar, and backers experienced long periods of silence over the course of development.
I'm torn here. On one hand I feel bad for John Farjay, a first-time game developer whose cute idea took off unexpectedly and then had his sloppy but heartfelt work paraded about on about the most massive stage an independent PC game can find itself on. The negative Pewdiepie video isn't alone in causing the wave of hate that seems to be cascading over Bear Simulator, but it certainly did not help.
Then again, criticism is part of the game development job. Just ask Cliff Bleszinsky.
I have such mixed feelings about this. On one hand, the Internet is mean. On the other, welcome to game development. https://t.co/HQwabXJsNj
— Cliff Bleszinski (@therealcliffyb) March 6, 2016
Today's PC gaming climate and the Steam platform give small developers more opportunities to get seen, but increased visibility isn't always a good thing. Farjay put his product out there, and some people didn't like what they played. Many enjoyed their time with Bear Simulator, but on the internet hate is almost always louder than love, especially when you focus on it.
I reached out to John Farjay for comment on this post, but so far he hasn't responded. Considering his not wanting to deal with drama stance, I don't expect him to.
Bear Simulator is not being abandoned. Backers received their game, as promised. Farjay plans a final update to add in a promised Kickstarter backer island into the game and work on any bug fixes or features backers request in the comments section of the update. Some of the stretch goals indicated in the Kickstarter campaign may not be fulfilled, which is a problem, but that's between the developer and backers.
He wrote that he's glad that many backers enjoyed the game (though he added "unless you were just being nice"), and thanked them for their positive feedback and encouragement.
The sentence he chose to close the update with is perhaps the most telling.
"Must be doing this PC game dev thing wrong because it is way too hard to stay happy and productive."
I hope he sticks with the game. I had a bit of fun with it, general messiness and all, and the backer comments under the update are overwhelmingly positive and supportive. Sometimes you just have to power through the hate.
Farjay chimed up later in the comments section, and perhaps he'll do just that.
OK, been in a really weird mood for a while now and cannot snap out of it. Has been really annoying and it shows. Need to get back to my original sarcastic self and stop being so complain-y.
Will try to make the next update funny and interesting.
Update (1pm, March 7): PewDiePie’s video has gone private since the posting of this article.
Update (2am, March 8): PewDiePie has tweeted a response to the situation.
Random ppl tweeting @ me hate for making bear sim dev quit.
— Felix Kjellberg (@pewdiepie) March 7, 2016
If you ask the internet for $100k, then put out a bad product, then what do you expect?
Finish the game, some people obviously liked it..
— Felix Kjellberg (@pewdiepie) March 7, 2016
Update (6am, March 8): PewDiePie made the video public once more, adding the following message to its YouTube description:
I originally took the video down yesterday after hearing the developer felt discouraged from getting harsh criticism. (Most likely not only from me).
Now, I’m not interested in making people feeling bad, so I took the video down..
But later after hearing he stopped developing games in total and gave up on this project, it kind of made me think I should keep the video back up. Obviously you don’t stop making games because of one person’s video, and me taking it down made it seem like that was the case to some people.
The video speaks for itself, but I do think it’s a shame he stopped making games.
I’ve been faced with very harsh criticism in my days online and I know it can be rough as hell.
But you can also learn from it, and grow from it.
By abandoning this game you’re letting the people who supported and who is supporting you down. Which isn’t really fair to them. There’s been plenty of times when I felt like quitting YouTube for example. But it just doesn’t make sense to do it, just because some people maybe don’t like it?
Although being public on the internet isn’t something everyone can handle, I get that.
Here’s to hoping the developer has a change of heart.
Take this video with a pinch of salt… like all my videos, honestly.