Publisher Backs Out of Deal with Kickstarted Game Obduction

Published: October 22, 2015 5:20 PM /


obduction cyan

Obduction, a new adventure game from the developers of Myst,  reached more than its Kickstarter goal of $1 million back in November of 2013. Six months ago they started to look for additional funding in an attempt to expand the scope of the game, which garnered the interest of a small publisher. In an update to its backers (a copy of which is right here) on Kickstarter on the 20th, Obduction announced that the small publisher has backed out of what they believed to have been a done deal.

It gets a little bit worse than that when reading through the update. Cyan, Obduction's developer, claims that it was due to the publisher's "very specific recommendation" that they moved forward in the more significant production of Obduction, with the assurance that they would be signing a formal contract soon. This was two months ago, and in that time up until now, Cyan says they were constantly given excuses as to why the contract was not yet ready for signing, such as vacation, out of the office, etc. 

The day to sign finally came on the 19th of October, but instead they were met with the news that the publisher decided to not go forward with the agreement, citing financial reasons. That has left Obduction in a state of higher production, but without the means of funding to keep them at the level required to complete the game in the new expanded scope. 

The post goes on to explain that the current level of production will continue as the company attempts to readjust, reducing the scope to be closer to the original plan. However, while that is happening, they will continue to look for financial partners. 

What this means for people looking forward to the game is that it will be delayed by at least a few months, as they have spent time on the larger production plan and need to reduce back to what they original set out to do. The developers wanted to emphasize that Obduction is still coming, that was never at issue, it just may be a little later and slightly different than what was first laid out.


In a blog post, Richard A. Watson, a developer working on Obduction, detailed some of Cyan's history with their previous games, noting that Myst had an estimated one year of development but took about two and a half. The post goes on further to discuss the nature of deadlines and what was exactly promised on the Obduction Kickstarter pitch to begin with. 

He is reacting to the apparent displeasure that some must feel about Obduction's delay being their fault in expanding the scope, but Richard notes in the post that the "flexible scope" of Obduction was explained in the original Kickstarter pitch, which said that as the budget grows so will the game. He also notes that no definitive deadline was given, but a "target date" of sometime towards the end of 2015.

There is no doubt the game will be delayed some due to the recent news; however, Richard notes that this "delay," as he would put it, has been hinted at, or at least mentioned, since at least back in October of last year when PCWorld interviewed Cyan co-founder Rand Miller about the game.

To summarize, the takeaway from both the Kickstarter backer post and Richard's blog post is that the same project backers originally put their money into is still being made. Cyan saw an opportunity to do more and attempted to do so, but that backfired and now they have to refocus their efforts back to the original plan.

With all that said, we should expect to see Obduction sometime early next year.

Quick Take 

While an unfortunate piece of news for Cyan and Obduction, one can't help but notice the not-so-smart maneuverings by Cyan here. They went forward, doing more than they were currently able, on a promise. They started to work outside their means without having documentation in place and the funding secured. Something tells me they won't be making this mistake again.

Of course, this is not excusing the sort of scummy, if it happened exactly as Cyan describes, actions of that publisher they dealt with.



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