Today is probably the saddest day since we started this adventure: the team of 8-Bit Studio must announce that we are stopping the development of Skara – The Blade Remains, the indie multiplayer combat game you have enjoyed on Steam Early Access.
There are a lot of reasons for us to stop this development – including several bad decisions on our end – but we could summarize them in three: resources, technology and market.
The point about resources is quite clear for most of you guys who know us since the beginning: we no longer have the team and the money to achieve such an ambitious project. When we started this adventure the goal was clear: invest all our personal money to get Skara – The Blade Remains to an Alpha/Beta stage and then try to convince a publisher to fund the final part of the development. We couldn’t achieve that last goal.
Technology is also a major cornerstone on any multiplayer game and things have not been easy for us: as one of the first few studios working on Unreal 4 we had to rely on earlier versions of the engine – most of them without a lot of multiplayer support yet – so we modified the engine to allow a good replication on servers. These house-made features came with a huge problem: we were not able to update our version of Unreal 4. Moreover, the programmers who built that system left the company and their knowledge left with them.
Meanwhile, the guys at Epic kept improving the engine and releasing more and more multiplayer capabilities, most of them based on Fortnite. Suddenly, those features became the new standard for multiplayer games on Unreal 4. We had to make a decision: to try to teach new programmers how to use our old systems or to make a huge effort to update all our code to the new UE4 versions. Turns out we didn’t have the time or the money to do any of those.
The final reason is the market, and this is probably the most important one: when we started this development back in 2013 the multiplayer market for PC and consoles was still fresh, plenty of space for new ideas and teams working on free-to-play titles. But today in Fortnite’s era it is nearly impossible for an indie title to become sustainable, especially games with huge server costs like Skara. Nowadays you need big teams, constant updates, customer service and a huge marketing budget to reach a playerbase big enough to make profits out of a free game: only 1 out of 500 indie games made it on 2018.
Publishers know this, and that’s the main reason we couldn’t sign a deal with any of them. ‘Your game is good, but numbers are your problem’ was the most common answer after reviewing Skara. Today, a free-to-play game needs millions of players to start generating revenues, and the only way to get them is to spend a lot of money on marketing.
We tried as hard as we could during 2018 to keep the team together while we were looking for the money to finish the development, but we couldn’t make it. A big part of the team left the company and we are even saying goodbye to our beloved office in Barcelona.
But… Is this the end of Skara? No, not yet. Some of us are still fighting and working on a new game based on the Skara Universe. This game will follow the themes that made Skara popular among our players: Combat and Narrative – but on a smaller scale and single player only. We are close to announce how it looks so if you are still interested in Skara stay tuned to our Discord server.
More importantly: is there a chance to see Skara – The Blade Remains back? Yes. We had a lot of fresh and good ideas for our old game waiting to be implemented so we would really like to do multiplayer in the future… but first we need to start making money out of the games we create, and then decide if we want to go that route again.
Lastly, I would like to personally thank all of you for being there, for being as enthusiastic and supportive about our game as you have been since we released our Alpha version. I had a blast playing with you, discussing with you on the forums or being killed by you on the weekly dev streams. You guys know that, after so long, I consider some of you among my closest friends and our conversations were often beyond videogames. I also want to apologize for not keeping up with you guys lately… you never gave up on this project and didn’t deserve silence as a response.
I will write a second part on this post explaining other things, more information about the upcoming Skara project and unveiling some secrets about The Blade Remains you guys haven’t seen yet.
Hope to see you on the battlefield… someday.
Pablo and the Skara team.