In context: The Culling was a precursor to the battle-royale craze. It mixed crazy BR free-for-all with a focus on melee attacks and set it in a game-show atmosphere. It wasn’t a great game, which is why PUBG and Fortnite had no problems overtaking it in popularity, but some would say it broke ground for the BR genre.
Independent developer Xaviant began work on a sequel shortly after The Culling’s March 2016 release. The Culling 2 looked to “take Battle Royale to the next level.” Instead, the game did so poorly, that the developers have decided to remove it from digital storefronts and refund everyone their money.
The game, which only released last week, has received mostly negative reviews. Not only does The Culling 2 not live up to its predecessor, but players also describe it as “beyond disappointing,” and “a half-assed, rushed, and lazy game trying to use The Culling name to make a quick buck.”
Two days after its release, the game’s concurrent player base dropped to just single digits. To say this is bad of a multiplayer battle-royale title would be an understatement.
Last Thursday the studio announced via Twitter that the team would be conducting “difficult discussions” regarding the future of the studio.
It’s time for us here at Xaviant to come together for some much needed soul searching and to have some admittedly difficult discussions about the future of our studio.— Xaviant (@Xaviant) July 12, 2018
We’ll talk soon.
Today Xaviant posted a video on its website explaining the conclusions and results of those discussions. Among them was the decision to pull The Culling 2 from the shelves and provide refunds.
“One thing that has emerged very clearly for us is that The Culling 2 was not a game that you asked for, and it’s not the game that you expected as a worthy successor to The Culling,” said Xaviant Director of Operations Josh Van Veld. “This week we’ll be in contact with Valve, Sony, and Microsoft to close those stores and to make sure that those of you who bought the game get refunds.”
Another thing that came out of Xaviant’s internal discussions is that it will not try to fix the problems that caused the game to fail. Instead, the studio plans on focusing its efforts on expanding the original game.
It will first work towards reverting the current build of The Culling to its original early release form. Many of the changes that the developers made to the “day-one build” of the game had turned fans away. It wants to return those gameplay elements — character perks, airdrops, more balanced combat — to the game and then expand upon it. The new effort will result in a free-to-play build called “The Culling: Day One.”
The team hopes to revive interest in the original game while improving it and running on an F2P business model. It is also hoping that offering the game as a free-to-play alternative to PUBG will bring back some of its player base which migrated to other games after Xaviant’s early updates turned players off.
Whether the studio can redeem itself remains to be seen. The battle-royale market is saturated right now with PUBG and Fortnite holding practically all the cards. Regaining fan trust is one thing — wrenching players away from the two top dogs in the business is another.