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Developer of ‘Gollum’ shutting down after disastrous launch

Publisher of the infamous ‘Gollum’ game Daedalic Entertainment is shutting down its development studio. With big-name titles ballooning in budget, facing increased delays, and putting their developers at higher financial risk, is the industry becoming unsustainable?

The studio behind 2023s worst video game ‘Gollum’ is shutting down.

Ridiculed online for its poor presentation, basic AI, dire technical performance, and absurd DLC content, Gollum has been a punching bag for both YouTubers and video game commentators alike since it was first announced several years ago.

After numerous delays, the title eventually released in 2023 to unsurprisingly dismal reviews and poor sales. As a result, Daedalic Entertainment has announced it will be closing down its internal development studio, instead solely focusing on publishing.

However, for those who are still playing the game, the company says it will release a final patch to fix remaining bugs and performance problems. There are still many issues with framerates, screen tearing, texture loading, and much more on both consoles and PC.

Daedalic Entertainment also insists it will move former developers into other areas of the business.

Gollum joins an ever-growing pile of big budget videogame disasters. AAA titles such as Redfall, Cyberpunk 2077, Anthem, Fallout 76, and Star Wars Battlefront 2 all launched with significant problems, underdelivering and misleading consumers. They’ve been the subject of legal disputes and industry-wide scandals.

Company apology notes are now so commonplace that they’ve become memes in themselves.

We’ve also seen some developers begin to unionise amidst increasing allegations of overworked ‘crunch’ periods, as well as sexual misconduct and abusive office environments.

This is all while publishers push for ‘battle pass’ monetisation models and expensive cosmetics that encourage anti-consumer practices. Diablo 4 is the latest high-budget example, where skins are being sold for £23 each and its publisher Blizzard continues to face lawsuits for its poor treatment of workers.

Others such as Square Enix are working to push NFTs into gaming, despite widespread backlash from the public. Ubisoft is also dropping an Assassins Creed NFT collection ahead of the release of this year’s franchise entry Mirage.

With big budget video games now routinely facing delays, ballooning in price, demanding more from underpaid staff, and being a larger financial risk for publishers, are we reaching a tipping point? Can video games remain sustainable long-term business ventures without resorting to live-service models and insanely expensive in-game purchases?

Gollum’s failure, while amusing, should be cause for concern. It’s poor reception has run its developers into the ground, effectively pushing Daedalic Entertainment out of the video game creation race altogether. One less developer is never good news.

In an ever-expanding and saturated market, we may see more of these poor performing titles run their makers out of business. Games are costing upwards of £70 each in 2023, with consumer expectations at higher levels than ever.

The most critically acclaimed games of recent times have cost an eye-watering amount to develop. The Last of Us 2 was recently revealed to have cost $220 million USD to make, while Horizon Forbidden West cost $212 million USD. These are big budgets that bring monumental risks.

If either of Sony’s flagship games hadn’t been met with praise, there was a very real chance that hundreds of millions would have been lost. Those are extraordinary stakes for an industry so prone to mishap and technical disasters.

In the grand scheme, Gollum’s legacy will likely be an amusing footnote in gaming history. Its delay, poor reception, and financial turmoil may serve as a larger warning for the industry, however.

Bigger budgets, larger stakes, and greater financial risk can stifle creativity and put developers under even more pressure than they currently endure. We’ll need to find a healthier balance going forward. Otherwise, we’ll end up with only cinematic masterpieces or low-effort bargain bin titles with no in-between.

A world full of Gollums is not one any of us deserve.