Bossa Studios on why Worlds Adrift failed and what’s next

    
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Although Worlds Adrift sunsetted back in July, developer Bossa Studios did not. Furthermore, it would appear that the company is doing better after dropping the game according to the studio’s general manager.

In an interview with GamesIndustry, general manager Daniel Clough ruminated on what made Worlds Adrift fall flat, concluding it was a combination of limited resources, shifting business priorities, and the difficulty of working with Improbable’s SpatialOS technology; on that last point, Clough is quick to point out that SpatialOS wasn’t the thing that meant Worlds Adrift would succeed or fail.

So what is Bossa Studios up to nowadays? They’re going back to their I Am Bread and Surgeon Simulator wheelhouse, including a project for Apple Arcade, publishing of the in-development puzzler The Bradwell Conspiracy, and the irreverent physics-based silliness of Pigeon Simulator. Even so, Clough admits that Bossa Studios is looking forward to releasing larger-scale games in the future. “We’re trying to make sure as a studio we can take these kind of ideas but also have enough talent, capacity and process to be able to work on these games,” says Clough. “I think the studio can continue to do games like Worlds Adrift and complicated AI games as well as other stuff, but we have to be realistic that we’re the size of studio that we are.”

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Grave Knight

So in short it failed cause they “bite off more than they can chew.”

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Arktouros

shifting business priorities

Pretty much entirely this.

It’s 100% okay to make a PvE game, but if you’re going to make a PvE game you can’t really do it on the backbone of a PvP game. A PvP game typically doesn’t have enough PvE content to appease PvE gamers. All you’re going to end up doing is pissing off your PvP player base and your PvE player base will beat your game and just quit when they run out of things to do shortly after.

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Raimo Kangasniemi

They tried to save the game by trying to attract PvE players; if there would have been enough PvP players they would not have had to do that shift.

PvP players have no basis to complain about changes developers make if a game simply can’t survive as mainly PvP-oriented – same with LoA. There simply were not enough players playing the games as they were.

Worlds Adrift did not survive at all, but there is no reason to believe that it would have survived as a game catering to PvP players. Clock was ticking for it. The studio did what it could to save it – and failed.

If you like PvP games, then buy and play them – that is the way to support them, not making claims that a game failed because the developers did not stick to a vision of a PvP purity unstained by the presence of PvE.

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Arktouros

However, to my original point, there was no PvE game there to attract anyone. If you played World’s Adrift you know the game world had various explorable islands with the only PvE menace being mantas which could be entirely ignored. There was no PvE game there as even if you looked at it as an exploring game the finite amount of that content meant players would quickly run out of things to do. Trying to save your game by switching to PvE when there is literally zero PvE game there is a terrible decision by any standard of measurement.

If you market your game heavily as one thing, and then switch your game to another the players you attracted to the game under the original pretense have every right to complain that you’re now switching. That doesn’t matter if it was a PvP game who switches to PvE or a PvE game that switches to PvP. That’s pretty much the definition of bait-and-switch and factually speaking now it hasn’t paid off for the developers in the scenarios where they have done it.

There’s no reason not to believe that had they improved the major PvP complaints it wouldn’t have survived. What we can say for certain is that by bait-and-switching your customer base you’re guaranteed to lose what little customers you do have. They gave them up in the vague hope that catering to the PvE market would fill the gap when in fact they had no PvE game.

I not only bought World’s Adrift but also all their various founder packages. I also played it for quite a bit as well before I got tired of waiting for them to address the imbalances in ship design which negative impacted PvP so heavily. As a player, their game absolutely failed because they eschewed the audience they did have in the hopes for an audience they didn’t have nor did they have a game that would even appeal to said audience.

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Raimo Kangasniemi

I would hazard to say that one issue could have been the whole emergent gameplay that should have been a major part why people should have stayed – come to build ships and explore, stay for the more complex game that human interaction brings forth, and which ended up lacking.

The standard problem in sandboxes, which Worlds Adrift in essence was.

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Schmidt.Capela

The thing about emergent gameplay is that it’s, well, emergent. You can’t force it to happen, and thus you can’t guarantee that it will take a certain desired shape or even exist at all.

Thus, a game that isn’t good enough to be worth playing even without emergent gameplay emerging is very unlikely to last enough to see it emerge at all.