Introversion, the staunchly-independent studio behind games including Uplink
, essentially closed shop in March, but a last-ditch effort involving Valve kept things going.
Mark Morris, managing director for the small UK-based developer knew soon after the February launch of the years-in-development Darwinia+
for Xbox 360 that the studio was in trouble.
"Internally we knew within about an hour of Darwinia+’s launch that it hadn’t done well enough," he wrote in a blog post last week
on Introversion's official website. "It took us about two weeks to really accept that and the awful realization that we didn’t have enough to continue with the office or the staff."
With creditors knocking on the door, Morris and lead developer Chris Delay laid off co-workers Gary Chambers, PR rep Martin Mir and programmer Leander Hambley, all of which Morris said took the news "stoically" and are currently "doing well."
Introversion, founded in 2001, then "started shutting things down," Morris said, selling off tables and chairs and closing its office. "I guess this was rock bottom. We’d been through crises before, but we’d always wanted to solve the problem and find a solution, this time it was a bit like there was nothing left to save," he wrote.
But after a couple of weeks, Morris and Delay were "unable to accept the end," and turned to Valve Software's Steam digital distribution platform for a last ditch rescue plan. That plan involved adding Steam achievements to the studio's well-received 2007 WarGames-inspired strategy title Defcon
. By adding those achievements, Introversion had a better chance of Valve promoting the game on the Steam storefront.
"Valve okayed the promotion and even though it didn’t focus on DEFCON we were happy that we had achieved our core objective. This was the game-changer. ... Right on cue, Valve delivered. The promo exceeded all of our expectations."
Morris added, "When combined with our low burn rate (no office or staff now) we had gone from being fearful about paying our mortgages to having a year's operating capital in the bank. This was good, but paled in comparison to the fact that we were working together as a team again. Just like the old days."
Today, Introversion is made up of Morris, Delay, Thomas Arundel and John Knottenbelt. Currently, the group is working on Subversion
, a visually striking spy game that has been in development as early as 2006, and is a "complete return to our roots," Morris said. The company is also looking to release Defcon
on PlayStation Network.