Breeding Season, a sex game that billed itself as "Harvest Moon meets Hentai", was one of the biggest projects funded on Patreon: According to tracking website Pledge Society, the title was raking in a whopping $US42.3k ($55.3k) a month. But as of yesterday, development on Breeding Season has ceased completely.
The circumstances leading to the sudden closure of such a high profile sex game seem very messy, judging from a recent blog post written by a developer. As they tell it, Breeding Season's disappearance from Patreon has to do with Vladimir Sandler, the former art director on the project. According to the Breeding Season devs, Sandler was allowed to retain all the rights to the art produced for the game right from the start of the project. The Breeding Season devs say that Sandler recently ran off with his art and started a new project called Cloud Meadow, a game that aims to be a "hybrid farming sim dungeon crawler". This in turn has left Breeding Season in a very awkward position.
"Because the wording of his contract let him do it, he also walked away with half the entire studio's savings, and then purely out of malice directed us to strip his assets from the game under threat of legal action," the Breeding Season developers claim. "This leaves Breeding Season half stripped of assets. Effectively, this would scrap the entire project as it currently stands, forcing us to start over completely from square one. There is no way the project could actually survive the process, the game is just dead, that's the end."
The Breeding Season team says that Sandler refuses to sell them back the rights to the art, and that ultimately this situation has left them too demoralised to continue working on the game.
"None of the other members want to continue on the project after this," the blog post says.
I reached out to Sandler for comment, who told me that he was currently talking to a legal advisor to figure out what he could publicly say about the situation. According to the Breeding Season devs, Sandler earned a total of $US190,000 ($249,600) over the course of the project. Over on Sandler's personal blog, he says that his new project, Cloud Meadow, was created to "save what I could of the Breeding Season Project, and deliver on the spirit of the promises made by the project". One thing that both parties seem to agree on is that the development on Breeding Seasons was becoming rocky, though the particulars seem like a he said, she said situation. The Breeding Season devs say that Sandler stopped working on the project last month but still took home wages to fund his own game, while Sandler says that things aren't that simple.
The way the actual Breeding Season game development was going, it would never have actually been finished, even if myself and the other artists worked 24/7. I had intended to not take the money owed to me for the month I worked on this from Breeding Season's accounts, and simply announce this at the same time as I announced my resignation so that people would see that while Breeding Season might finally be dead, they would still have a valid option for funding a game about banging monstergirls/boys and running a monster farm.
While the monthly contributions may seem shocking to some, truly explicit games like Breeding Season cannot find homes on typical publishing platforms, such as Steam. The demand for sex games is still there, however, which in turn has led developers to turn to alternative platforms such as Patreon to develop their games without needing to deal with things like the ESRB. For some sex games, this circumventing of traditional publishing methods has proven to be wildly lucrative. In the case of Breeding Season, the earnings were divided among a team of five people, in addition to having to account for Patreon fees and taxes.
While we'll keep you updated on the Breeding Season situation, it seems that things are likely only going to get messier from here, given that the final paragraph in the cancellation notice slyly encourages people to steal the game. In response, Sandler says he is "shocked and dismayed" that his former coworkers are telling others to pirate Sandler's work. Woof.