A group of Dutch student developers operating as Vogelsap are gearing up to launch an asymmetrical multiplayer horror game The Flock with an intriguing twist: when enough players die, the game will be removed from sale and die for good.
"We always had this story that the Flock are a tragic race that is doomed to extinction," Vogelsap creative director Jeroen van Hasselt tells Gamasutra via email. "During development we had several ideas about how to convey that story into multiplayer. It was only when we tried to come up with a solution for a multiplayer games' often anticlimactic ending that both ideas clicked."
This is intriguing, from a developer's perspective, because Vogelsap seems to be spicing up its marketing strategy even as it effectively sets a hard limit on lifetime sales of The Flock.
"We currently only plan to earn money from The Flock via sales of the game on Steam," wrote van Hasselt. "We're all about creating an authentic experience that players have a chance to be a part of. It's not about getting the best business deal."
Here's how it works: in every match of The Flock, 3-5 players compete to grab a MacGuffin and become the Carrier, at which point everyone else hunts them while they try to accomplish objectives.
Every time a player dies, a "Population" counter that's visible to everyone who owns the game (it's part of the title screen) ticks down by one; when the game launches it will start with a pre-set number of lives in the population.
When that number reaches zero, the game will no longer be available for sale and only those who already own it will be able to boot it up to take part in an as-yet-undetermined finale event. After that, Vogelsap says the game will be shut down forever.
"If we implement any other plans they must be in the interest of every player and the experience we want to achieve," wrote van Hasselt. "We're here to create a different take on asymmetrical multiplayer and a different take on the whole multiplayer genre."
Van Hasselt and his fellow developers expect to release it later this year (they already ran it through a closed alpha) and you can keep tabs on the venture over on the Vogelsap website.