After a rocky launch, Failbetter Games ends indie fund and lays off some staff

Four staff members have been laid off following the underwhelming Early Access launch of Sunless Skies.

Failbetter Games has laid off four staff members after lower-than-expected Early Access sales of Sunless Skies made the studio’s financial future uncertain.

The studio shared a blog post detailing that decision and a number of other difficult changes it now has had to make after a rocky start to its Early Access game Sunless Skies.

According to the developer, Sunless Skies sold roughly 15 percent of the copies that its predecessor, Sunless Sea, did during the same amount of time in Early Access. Failbetter attributes this rocky start to a number of factors, ranging from differences in the Early Access markets to their own mistake of jumping into Early Access before the game was ready.

In addition to the four staff members leaving the studio after a "redundancy consultancy process", Failbetter has also decided to end its narrative game-focused Fundbetter initiative “until business improves” and discontinue the mobile app for the game Fallen London.

Fundbetter kicked off in 2016 and looked to offer indie developers funding for their small narrative-focused game projects in return for a chunk of revenue following the game’s release. The first year of the initiative saw five games with a budget in the £2,000-£20,000 (~$2,800-$28,000) range supported.

“Giving back to the community was very rewarding, and we have some ideas for how we’d do it again in future,” explained Failbetter Games. “But right now we just don’t have the spare funds or bandwidth.”

As always, if you or someone you know has been affected by layoffs, you can email Gamasutra to share your story confidentially.

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