Well, That Was Fast
Fntastic Studios has closed down almost the day after their latest game, The Day Before, released. There was a belief that this game was vaporware or some other sort of scam. Vaporware refers to a game or program that doesn’t actually exist. It might have a website, FAQ, and adverts, but isn’t real. The Day Before definitely wasn’t vaporware. It did really exist. It really was playable. And it really did cost $40 on Steam. It also really did shut down 4 days later.
How did we get here?
This studio has released several games in the past, which isn’t typical of scam games. They released The Wild Eight (2017) to fair reviews on OpenCritic. Dead Dozen released a few years later (2018) but is no longer available for purchase on Steam. Radiant One released that same year but flew mostly under the radar. The penultimate release for Fntastic Studios was Propnight which has received mixed reviews on Steam. This is not the track record of a scammer, whether you personally liked or disliked their games. It seems more like a studio releasing middling to decent games that flew largely under the radar.
Perhaps that is why they tried promoting The Day Before so much. With the initial trailer shared by IGN back in April of 2021, the hype train had plenty of time to build. Some became skeptical about the polished state of a game without so much as a release date, but it certainly didn’t seem outside of what was possible. In October the release date was set for 21 June 2022. The game was delayed, however, when the company decided to upgrade to Unreal Engine 5. After several more delays, people began to believe it was a scam. Up to this point, however, they hadn’t taken anyone’s money. After release, it was so poorly received that it is no longer sold on Steam and full refunds were offered.
The Day After
So, is it a scam? I can only tell you what I think. I’ve laid out the basic developments in this bizarre tale. Feel free to disagree. I don’t think this was a scam. I think a developer delayed a game longer than they could afford to but with the intention of making a game that everyone wanted. Their trailer used scripting and other tricks to simulate gameplay, but that has been the industry standard for forever. They released when they couldn’t delay it any longer, and it wasn’t good enough. Further, they offered refunds for everyone on Steam, and they are now shuttered. I’ll close with some of the Studios own words:
It’s important to note that we didn’t take any money from the public during the development of The Day Before… We worked tirelessly for five years, pouring our blood, sweat, and tears into the game…
“We apologize if we didn’t meet your expectations. We did everything within our power, but unfortunately, we miscalculated our capabilities. Creating games is an incredibly challenging endeavor.