After several delays, Shadowrun Chronicles, the rebranded form of what was originally being developed as Shadowrun Online, launched on Steam a month ago. Now, a month out, the studio behind the game is bankrupt. The company has apparently already been assigned a liquidator, which raises serious questions about the future of the game after a month of operation.
One of the developers posted on the Steam forum that this does not mean doom for the game or even the company, with a statement due out later tonight regarding the situation. While players are assured that the servers will remain up and the next update is on track… it’s a bit hard to feel terribly certain, obviously.
[Update]: MassivelyOP has been provided with a copy of the most recent backer update wherein Cliffhanger Productions addresses the bankruptcy filing. You can read it after the cut.
As some of you may have read on the forums, today Cliffhanger Productions Software has officially signed for bankruptcy. I will explain what that means for Shadowrun Chronicles in a second, but let me preface this with a personal message to the team: I have never been prouder and felt more privileged to work with you. The past weeks and months have been incredibly difficult and stressful and the fact that to the last man and woman everyone continues to work on this despite the situation out of dedication to the players, the game and loyalty to your team-members is simply amazing.
Now to the matter at hand.
1) Cliffhanger Software is the developer filing for bankruptcy. This does not mean it will close down automatically, we are in talks regarding the studio.
2) Sister company Cliffhanger Games owns and operates Shadowrun Chronicles and continues to do so (Next game update should be out next Wednesday hopefully). It is not part of the legal procedure at present.
3) We have several plan in motion right now on how to continue but obviously there are a lot of moving parts at work, so we cannot be completely sure how it will turn out.
4) We are not called Cliffhanger for nothing. We not going to give up and we remain dedicated to improving the game and servicing our players.
How did we get here?
Building SRC has always been an uphill struggle, as many know. We obviously had a horrible amount of bad luck in our launch week seriously affecting our vital week one sales and our ratings and the game has received mixed reviews for various reasons. In the end sales are not at the level we had hoped for. This in itself would not kill the company, Shadowrun did and continues to generate revenue, which is why we are confident we can continue to operate it.
However in order to get to the release of the game we had to borrow money and we had to ask our team to forego part of their wages to be paid back to them once the revenue from Shadowrun came in. The team had agreed to this, risking their personal financial welfare while slaving away in crunch time. I have thanked them for this privately and now publicly and it is a rare display of dedication in this day and age.
With the bad hit our sales took the future prospect of SRC is limited – we can operate it with a smaller team but we cannot pay back the debt we owe to our current team and the people we borrowed money from at the due dates. Thus we are legally required to file for bankruptcy in the development studio. This procedure may end in several ways ranging from restructuring the studio to selling it or shutting it down. We are working on a number of plans and have to see which if any will come to fruition.
So what happens to Shadowrun Chronicles?
The game will continue as is, with the upcoming first challenge mission planned for Wednesday and be run by Cliffhanger Games. (I played that challenge today and we made it past Wave 2 on the second attempt having used up all our DocWagon Gold cards and Rocket launchers, so it may still be a little on the easy side). The license is not for sale (even if we wanted) and we either need to do this ourselves or hand it back to Microsoft.
I cannot pretend that future patches will not be affected by this, but we have plans to rebuild as a smaller, more agile team that can survive from SRC revenue for a good long while. These plans entail not being able to employ everyone who is currently working on the team. The amount of personal grief this brings me is immense – it may be the reality of the labor market, but these are not some anonymous employees, this is the team that has carried SRC all the way. I hate to be in this situation and powerless to prevent it and the last time I was forced to cut down a sizeable team as a manager due to a company restructuring (back at Vivendi Universal/Blizzard) I quit alongside the team. But I am not quitting Shadowrun Chronicles.
The next two weeks will likely be affected by the legal procedures and we will not be able to keep working fully on the upcoming Gamemaster PvP Mode, but I do hope we will be able to pick up mid June and in the meantime have at least one more challenge mission released.
Now the game has a lot of shortcomings, which I am the first to admit. It is a labor of love but it has also been driven by circumstances and it shows in some of the slightly hurried states parts of the game may have been released in (Hello Karma and Hello Nerfbat). But at the same time it is FUN – in single player and especially co-op. In fact co-op is MUCH more fun than I anticipated and SRC is pretty unique in combining turn-based action strategy, co-op and RPG elements successfully in this way. And I believe it has not yet realized its full potential by far.
In a situation like this some people will be skeptical about buying the game for fear of not being able to enjoy the game they bought. What we need is actually the opposite. We need more people buying this right now to support it – every penny we make is helping us keep more team members to work on this and is an investment into more future for Shadowrun. Because in order to survive the game needs a team, but it also needs a community. A community ranging from the wonderfully whacky to the critically inquisitive, filled with wonderfully supportive people united by a love for Shadowrun. We will continue to engage this community as best we can. If you think this is a project and a team worth saving, we can use all the support we can get right now to hang in there.
What about my SWAG? You owe me a (insert backer reward package)
Cliffhanger Games has the funds to fulfill the rewards. However obviously any buck we put into this will take away from potential development budget of the team (we put back a bit of money according to our initial estimates of what the swag would cost).
We are sorting this out (we are still waiting for deliveries of the boxed versions, the Lockdown books have not even been shipped from the printers yet and we are still collecting feedback from backers on T-Shirt sizes and delivery addresses). In light of the current situation I need to ask for a little more patience from you (I know delaying by over a year may have stretched that pretty thin already). We will come back with news about that once we have a clear view ahead. Please understand that we strongly feel our obligation to deliver, but we need to take care of things at home first.