Wednesday 14 November 2018

The Future of Dead Frontier

First of all I want to apologise for being silent this past month or so. I will try to explain as best I can why I fell off the radar, and what my plans are going forward.

What Happened
When Dead Frontier 2 first launched I was incredibly happy. We had over 10,000 players online which I feel is a massive achievement for such a low budget game. Just to put it in perspective, due to differences in the way concurrent players are counted, this was probably 4x more players online than DF1 ever had at it's peak. To date over 700,000 people have played the game, and I expect that will eventually reach over 1 million. Our early review score was pretty good too so there was a lot to be proud of back then. I was super tired from working on so many fixes/updates, but things felt good.

However despite those impressive early numbers, it was clear to me that there were definite problems. It felt like every week that passed, we lost a significant number of active players. At first I managed to stay upbeat, thinking that within a month or so the game would settle to a decent number of players, perhaps 2-3k online and that would then give us a solid enough base to ensure that the game would have a strong long term future. However those numbers came and went, and as of right now we seem to only have around 400 online, and it feels like it's still dropping quite fast.

Financially the game has not done well beyond the first two weeks. If you exclude any salary for my time spent, then DF2 just about covered it's development costs during that early period. As of now though, it's only just bringing in enough to cover it's running costs and not much else. To put it into perspective, the 10 year old DF1, that hasn't been updated or had new items released for a long time, is earning 3x more and that ratio is probably just going to increase over time. Of course, with a more aggressive business model, DF2 would be earning more per player, but I'm guessing it would also have even less players than it does now.

The review score has also been dropping. Most early players were DF1 fans and were nice enough to give me the benefit of the doubt, but the newer people coming in now simply don't have that nostalgia so have a lower opinion of the game.

All of the above combined with me being generally tired/stressed/burnt out from development, and a fair number of complaints/insults directed at me created a perfect storm which basically led to me becoming pretty depressed. I basically stopped looking at everything; discord, forums, social media. I even stopped looking at the financial reports and player counts because it was just making me feel like crap. Of course this also slowed down my work speed.

What Now?
I still feel like DF2 has a chance of succeeding once it's finished, so I will definitely be continuing my work on it. Even if it doesn't end up as a success, I still want to finish it for personal reasons.

However DF1 is currently the only game that is actually keeping the lights on at Creaky Corpse HQ, so the only practical course of action is for me to put some more energy into updating it again. Therefore I'll soon be announcing a whole array of new things for the older game.

Although this post looks grim, please don't worry about either game being shut down. As I have mentioned a few times previously, the tech DF1 and DF2 run under means that it would be very easy for me to scale down our servers and keep both games running on a shoestring budget, one which I will happily fund from my own pocket if necessary. Despite the ups and downs, I am incredibly proud of both of these games, and I want people to enjoy them for as long as possible; even if they don't make any money.

Personal Note
Writing this post hasn't been easy, I actually started it over a week ago but I just couldn't find the right words. I really poured everything I had into DF2 and it feels horrible to admit that it hasn't worked out so far. I know that I am letting down a lot of people, and it's something that I will feel guilty about for a long time to come.

Sorry everyone :(