Things just go from bad to worse for Overkill's The Walking Dead. With the Swedish developer already in the midst of reconstruction, sales of the game have been shuttered completely after the rights holder for The Walking Dead announced they would be cancelling their relationship with Starbreeze, resulting in the game being pulled from sale entirely.
Skybound Entertainment, owners of the rights to The Walking Dead, announced on their website that Starbreeze's co-op shooter "did not meet our standards nor is it the quality that we were promised". The company said they tried to work with Starbreeze to get the game up to scratch, but ultimately their efforts failed and as a result, they have cancelled the contract entirely:
As of today, we have terminated our contract with Starbreeze Studios and will discontinue all efforts on OVERKILL’S THE WALKING DEAD. Our creators and their stories are the core of Skybound, and since 2014 we have worked hard to expand the world of The Walking Dead into an exceptional Co-op Action FPS. We did our best to work with Starbreeze and resolve many issues that we saw with the game, but ultimately OVERKILL’S THE WALKING DEAD did not meet our standards nor is it the quality that we were promised.
We are exceedingly sorry to our fans and share their disappointment in the game. We remain dedicated to providing our fans with the most premium quality content we can offer, and will continue to look for alternative video game options for the IP.
The move means that Overkill's The Walking Dead is unavailable for sale, although users who already own the game on Steam will still be able to play it from their library. "Starbreeze and Skybound are in discussions about the agreement and Starbreeze is trying to resolve the issue to find an amicable solution with the ambition to finish and deliver season 2 of the game, as previously communicated," Starbreeze said in an investor note on their website.
"We are deeply sorry for the issues this may cause anyone who has bought the game looking forward to the resolution of Season 2 and are working urgently to attempt to resolve the issue," Starbreeze's acting chief executive, Mikael Nermark, said. Should the companies fail to reach an agreement, it will mean that the game will never be made available for sale on Steam again, and the upcoming console release will never eventuate.
"Sales related to OTWD amounted to SEK 34.1 million in the fourth quarter 2018. Costs related to development of OTWD has so far exceeded revenue," Starbreeze said this week.
It caps off an awful period for the Swedish developer, whose fortunes have gone from bad to worse in an incredibly short period of time. Along with the difficulties on The Walking Dead, the company recently sold the rights to publish System Shock 3 to OtherSide Entertainment, makers of Underworld Ascendant. The company's Stockholm offices were also raided in December, with one person arrested on insider trading charges.
Starbreeze did recently receive $US1.5 million advance payment for work on a mobile PAYDAY spin-off, PAYDAY: Crime War. But the company is still in deep trouble, having filed to extend its reconstruction period until March 3. Starbreeze is also the current publisher for Psychonauts 2, although Double Fine founder Tim Schafer said the Swedish group "have pledged they're definitely still capable of publishing it".
"With Psychonauts 2 having been high profile and already having a great trailer out there, there would be enough interest in other people funding it and finishing it if something happened. But I've got no reason to believe Starbreeze isn't going to come through and publish it well," Schafer told Games Industry.