The dramatic development saga of Yasumi Matsuno, the director of Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story, and Playdeck’s Kickstarted game continues. Nearly two years after Unsung Story was funded, the game has been delayed for an indefinite amount of time and the prospects of the final product emerging as anything close to resembling the game concept that was originally presented are uncertain.
Unsung Story was pitched to the public in 2014 as a “spiritual successor to a storied line of epic tactical RPGs designed by Yasumi Matsuno” via a Kickstarter campaign that made $660,126. The game was delayed, missing its original release window of July 2015, with backers not receiving an update on the project until two months later.
When that update did finally arrive, it was one filled with dreary news: Playdek CEO Joel Goodman revealed that the game was being delayed to 2016 and the focus had changed from being a single-player campaign to put priority on a multiplayer PVP component. Backers were understandably displeased.
Today Playdek sent out another grim update, telling backers that key staff members had left and that Unsung Story was being shelved to focus on products “in the near term” in order to continue to support Unsung Story’s development. Here is the full text of the update, emphasis is ours:
Dear Unsung Backers,
There has been another delay in reporting to you since our last
development update, and we apologize for that. Our continued intention
is to make a great game, and get Unsung Story to development completion
and released to you and the gaming public. During the last few months we
have had some development setbacks that are affecting our timeline and
progress on the game, while also affecting what we need to do in the
immediate future as a company.
After we posted our latest development progress, we unfortunately
lost a few key staff members that were part of Unsung Story development,
and that has had an impact on any progress since then, as well as our
product focus. We now have one internal team capable of working on a
single project, and for the financial strength of the company we need to
focus on a few products in the near term that have the ability to get
to a retail release before Unsung Story is able to. While this is a
difficult choice to make, it is one we need to do for the ongoing
financial health of the company. For Unsung Story, we will explore
options for outside development help, and will look to see if we are
able to bring on an outside team that can assist us in furthering
development. While we aren’t assured this will come to fruition, we do
want to make sure that we are exploring any options at hand that can
make progress on the game.
While the development goals that were spelled out in the previous
update remain intact for now, the release window of those goals is
affected, and at this time we do not have an update as to what the new
release window for development rollout will be. This will be affected by
the ability and timing of any outside support, as well as when the
single internal team is able to get back onto Unsung development, and
when we do know, we will update you all. As we pursue this direction, we
will refine the release timeline as soon as we are able to. With the
loss of that staff, and without having any new progress to share since
the last update, we felt we needed to sort through what options and
directions we had available before we updated you on the current status,
but again do apologize for the lack of recent updates. We will get back
to you as soon as we can with any progress and status update. Thanks.
The majority of backers reacting to the news are doing so with disappointment and incredulity, a number of them demanding refunds and expressing anger at the lack of communication from Playdek, which last sent out an update in October 2015.
It seems that Unsung Story is destined to become another big example of making people wary of crowdfunding and for good reason. The developer’s lack of communication with its backers is inexcusable and anyone looking to participate in crowdfunding, either as a supporter or creator, would do well to learn from this situation.