Studio rakes in R240 million launching most-wishlisted game on Steam — shuts down four days later

Fntastic, the developer of highly-anticipated zombie survival shooter The Day Before, has announced that it is shutting down — four days after launching its game.

The abrupt announcement — followed by Fntastic scrubbing its Discord server, deleting old videos and trailers, and nuking its LinkedIn profile — has fuelled allegations that the game was a scam from the beginning.

The Day Before drew gamers’ attention in January 2021 with a slick announcement trailer, promising a post-apocalyptic open-world massively multiplayer zombie shooter and survival game.

It also drew sceptics who pointed out that the trailer looked over-produced and not like actual gameplay.

The promised game also seemed far too ambitious for what appeared to be a small, independent development team.

Several months later, Fntastic announced it would launch the game in June 2022.

Despite the scepticism, The Day Before quickly became the most-wishlisted game on Steam for a while.

However, a month before its scheduled release date, the launch was postponed to March 2023.

Shortly after this disappointment, Fntastic issued a call for volunteers to help finish the game.

This resulted in a backlash from fans who took a dim view about the studio asking people to work for free. The studio’s response to the backlash was to reveal that several of its “employees” were unpaid volunteers.

The saga continued in February when the studio faced a trademark dispute from a Korean calendar app with the same name.

As a result, it removed The Day Before from Steam and YouTube. Fntastic also announced an eight-month delay, although it later admitted it would have postponed the game’s launch anyway.

In November, Fntastic delayed again — this time to 7 December 2023.

By this point, the studio’s communication style, repeated delays, and dubious new gameplay trailers made it seem increasingly likely that The Day Before was vapourware.

Then, on 7 December, it actually launched.

The Day Before immediately shot into Steam’s best-seller lists, but its servers could not keep up with the influx of players.

“Overload on North American servers. The servers are working. Fills up too quickly,” Fntastic posted at 20:41 on launch day.

“A huge update, including server and AI fixes, is coming in a few hours,” the studio promised a day later.

Players report that this patch did materialise and did include several improvements.

Unfortunately, it couldn’t fix what was really wrong with the game — it was terrible.

The Day Before was not open-world or massively multiplayer like Fntastic had promised.

Instead, it was an extraction shooter similar to Escape from Tarkov, Tom Clancy’s The Division, and DayZ.

Besides not living up to its own hype, The Day Before’s core shooting mechanics were poor, leading to its Steam rating plummeting to “Overwhelmingly Negative”.

According to SteamDB and Gamalytic, its review score on Steam was around 18%, with only 17% of the 21,430 user reviews being positive.

Gamalytic reports that Fntastic sold over 357,000 copies of the game, earning around $12.8 million (R243 million) in gross revenue.

However, a leaked chat message by Fntastic CEO Eduard Gotovtsev paints a different picture.

Fntastic CEO Eduard Gotovtsev’s leaked message about The Day Before’s financial failure

It showed that the game sold 201,076 units on Steam, of which 91,694 had been refunded by Monday morning.

Following the initial surge in sales on launch day, the game had sold almost no copies.

Using data from SteamDB, we calculated an average selling price for the game — R506.03.

This makes its gross revenue just under R102 million, or $5.4 million.

However, the high number of returns reduces this revenue estimate to roughly $2.9 million.

According to Gotovtsev’s leaked message, The Day Before was a financial flop, made worse because it will cost them $1 million per year to maintain their Nitrado servers.

Four days after launching one of 2023’s most-anticipated games, Fntastic announced that it was shutting its doors.

This played out beginning with a Twitter post from Fntastic on Monday night:

Today, we announce the closure of Fntastic studio. Unfortunately, The Day Before has failed financially, and we lack the funds to continue. All income received is being used to pay off debts to our partners.

We invested all our efforts, resources, and man-hours into the development of The Day Before, which was our first huge game. We really wanted to release new patches to reveal the full potential of the game, but unfortunately, we don’t have the funding to continue the work.

It’s important to note that we didn’t take any money from the public during the development of The Day Before; there were no pre-orders or crowdfunding campaigns. We worked tirelessly for five years, pouring our blood, sweat, and tears into the game.

At the moment, the future of The Day Before and Propnight is unknown, but the servers will remain operational.

We apologize if we didn’t meet your expectations. We did everything within our power, but unfortunately, we miscalculated our capabilities. Creating games is an incredibly challenging endeavor.

Publisher Mytona followed up with its own statement early on Tuesday:

To All The Day Before Players:

As the investor of The Day Before we would like to provide some updates on the current situation around the game.

We are sorry for the fact that the game didn’t meet the expectations of the majority of the players.

Today we will work with Steam to open up refunds for any players who choose to make a refund.

We’re in contact with Fntastic regarding the future of the game.

By default, Steam lets customers refund any game they have played for less than two hours.

However, Fntastic said it was working with Mytona to honour refunds to anyone requesting one.

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Studio rakes in R240 million launching most-wishlisted game on Steam — shuts down four days later