Skybound Entertainment, the company founded by David Alpert and “The Walking Dead’s” Robert Kirkman, terminated its contract Tuesday with developer Starbreeze Studios and killed off the studio’s game “Overkill’s The Walking Dead” saying it did not meet the company’s standards.
The game will no longer be released on console and Valve is finalizing its strategy for how to handle the sale of the PC version of the game on Steam.
In a statement sent to Variety, Skybound Entertainment said it was terminating its contract with the studio.
“Our creators and their stories are the core of Skybound, and since 2014 we have worked hard to expand the world of ‘The Walking Dead’ into an exceptional co-op action FPS,” according to the statement. “We did our best to work with Starbreeze and resolve many issues that we saw with the game, but ultimately ‘Overkill’s The Walking Dead’ did not meet our standards nor is it the quality that we were promised.
“We are exceedingly sorry to our fans and share their disappointment in the game. We remain dedicated to providing our fans with the most premium quality content we can offer, and will continue to look for alternative video game options for the IP.”
The news comes as Starbreeze Studios continues to struggle with the poor reaction to “Overkill’s The Walking Dead.” The company made about $3.65 million from the game, but it was considered a flop. Shortly after the game’s release Starbreeze opted to review costs and then filed for reconstruction the next month.
In Starbreeze’s “Walking Dead” shooter, players work to build an encampment and then keep it safe by going on runs and helping out those inside the encampment and those who may join. While the game has the initial look and feel of a typical shooter like “Battlefield” or “Call of Duty,” but with zombies, it doesn’t take long for players to realize they need to be much more cautious in their approach, both with zombies and the non-friendly humans.
In a 2018 interview, Saul Gascon, global development director at Starbreeze, said that the post-launch plans were designed to mimic the formula that was so successful with “Payday.”
“We launch a game and then we evolve the game with the community and then we work on what we want to do from a narrative and gameplay perspective,” he said at the time. “Every month after launch we will do something new for players. Whoever gets the game is going to be entertained for a long time. Think of it more as a TV show with episodes rather than a movie.”
But the critical response to the game’s release was not good.
“The whole cycle that defines ‘Overkill’s The Walking Dead’ feels hollow,” according to Variety’s review. “The story is an excuse to put players on missions, but who cares about the mission if you don’t care about your camp? The goal of the level is to bring back supplies and loot that upgrade your character, but why bother upgrading your character if it doesn’t make the game more exciting? The best loot-driven games rely on a great progression to spur you on, to get you so excited that you don’t mind replaying the same old levels. ‘Overkill’s The Walking Dead’ seems to expect that, once you’ve started playing and leveling up a character, you simply won’t be able to stop. There are plenty of games, even time sinks, that will treat you better.”