Guardians of Ember is sunsetting once again as Gameforge and Runewaker drop contract

    
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Do you folks remember a few years ago when Guardians of Ember launched? It was an isometric hack-and-slash MMO built by Runewaker (you know it from Runes of Magic), whose most notable feat at the time was accidentally raising way too much crowdfund money for a German localization and putting it towards more content for everyone. It was rather well-liked, is what we’re saying.

But just a few months later, the party was over, as its publisher, InselGames, was booted off Steam when Valve rather convincingly determined said publisher was engaging in review manipulation for Guardians of Ember and its other titles. InselGames attempted to keep the game alive off Steam, but by the end of 2018, Gameforge had picked it up from Runewaker instead (Gameforge picks everything up) and soft-relaunched it in NA and Europe last year.

Unfortunately, it looks like something’s gone awry and the game is sunsetting again. According to tweets and emails sent to players this week, Gameforge is dropping the game over some sort of contract issue with Runewaker, which means there will be no version left online.

“Unfortunately we have some very sad news for you today. The contract between Runewaker, the game’s developers, and Gameforge will not be continued. As a result, Gameforge’s Guardians of Ember servers will be switched off on 14th February 2020, and the game will subsequently be unavailable. We are therefore forced to cancel your user agreement effective 14th February 2020. As there are no other official servers for Guardians of Ember being run by other providers, there will be no character transfers. Our payment service will be deactivated today, making it no longer possible to buy premium currency. Any existing currency you have can still be used to purchase items in the shop until the final shutdown.”

Our sympathies go out to the players and devs affected.

Source: Twitter via Reddit. Thanks, @pcgneurotic!
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Ashfyn Ninegold

I had fun with this game. Sorry to see it go.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

The “review manipulation” was over Wild Buster. I heavily disagree with what Steam did, coming down on a small company for something that technically was alluded at but not really even said specifically.

The Boss did *hint* that he wanted employees to give the game a good review score, but in reality, only told them to buy the game and specifically said that he couldn’t tell them what to review. Considering the small number of people and that he technically didn’t tell them they had to give a good review (even if it is what he was hoping they’d do), I really disagree with kicking the company off Steam for it.

He only asked to see that they purchased the game, not to see what review they gave it. Sure, it may have eventually lead to him asking what review they gave to the game if the new purchase reviews from employees weren’t positive, but what we think something may eventually lead to isn’t a reason to punish someone now.

He was flustered, the company was dying, the game didn’t even have enough reviews to show an average review and he made a last-ditch effort to save the game and company. He wondered why the people working there weren’t doing this already. The small number of employees would have had the most minuscule impact if the game actually started to sell. Most players were giving it positive reviews (more out of hoping what they invested in would succeed than thinking it was that good of a game, but still), it just simply didn’t have enough reviews there to give the average yet.

I guess I just really feel for them, considering the stuff the big guys get away with all the time and considering he was trying to save the company. It may reflect our society pretty well, the big companies getting away with everything and the little person getting it socked to them, but it still doesn’t mean I really like it.

Lots of companies have reviews where the employees get the game and give it positive reviews to start. I guess they’re just smart enough or lucky enough not to get caught, not to have an email telling employees to buy it that some disgruntled employee that doesn’t care about sinking the company can copy and show around.

I had invested in Guardians of Ember and Wild Buster on Steam, so when they got kicked off and killed the games, that killed it for all of us players too. That one disgruntled employee really screwed a lot of people over, and Steam went overboard for a company that didn’t really do much except strongly suggest the employees get the game and say he couldn’t tell them how to review it.

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cykelbud

It seems many have forgotten Runewaker also failed with Dragon’s Prophet in NA and almost forgotten in EU, now called Savage Hunt.
I think the problem is more Runewaker than Gameforge.

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Arnold Hendrick

This rather convincingly demonstrates, to me, two things.

(1) Steam is life for game owners, publishers, operators and developers. Without Steam, it is very costly to jump-start a game (because you have to spend tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars on online ads, such as the ones you see on this website).

(2) Runewalker has failed with two different publisher/operators (InselGames, and now Gameforge) for a game they finished a few years ago. Runewalker seems to be exercising poor judgment in business partners.

While I’m sure, with enough digging, yet another publisher/operator might be found, the chances of an acceptable deal happening seem poor. At this point, I expect that Runewalker will take whatever they’ve earned to date and write off the project.

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Anton Mochalin

The game is actually quite fun compared to other games in the genre like Devilian or ELOA. I’d even say I liked it more than Lost Ark though Lost Ark is definitely much more polished.

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Connor

I hope Runewaker finds a competent publisher to take this on and doesn’t just let it die into the void. Their last two publishers seem determined to let it die into the void, and Gameforge didn’t seem all too worried about getting the game back on Steam despite the trash tier population figures.

kjempff
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kjempff

Question is if it isn’t some kind of contract technicality that one of the parties will not change their ageement on, effectively blocking the entire project from surviving. Further speculating, it is usually a publisher because .. Usually they have only small investment, which gives them the advantage during negotiations.