Skybound, who bought the rights to The Walking Dead, have ended their contract with Starbreeze Studios. This means that all work on Overkill’s The Walking Dead will cease. The planned PS4 and Xbox One ports have been cancelled, and new episodes of the existing PC version will not be developed.
Of course, many people who had been following the progress of Overkill’s The Walking Dead had seen the writing on the wall already. As long ago as last month, the status of the console versions was in limbo as Starbreeze was “reviewing the performance of the console version”. In December of last year, the Swedish developer Starbreeze was in crisis as it filed for bankruptcy whilst the company was in legal trouble for insider trading. This is in addition to the game’s troubled development, marked by frequent delays and a troubled launch when it finally came out on PC.
Overkill’s The Walking Dead was an attempt to create a co-op survival shooter in the setting of the popular The Walking Dead universe. Whilst a sound idea in principle (after all, it worked for the Left 4 Dead games), the final game was marred by bugs, unpolished gameplay, mixed reviews and a plummeting player count. In an official statement, Skybound Studios expanded on its reasons for terminating the game’s development.
“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. ”
“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.”
As of now, the console versions are no longer available for pre-order. Skybound has yet to announce what this news means for anyone who has already preordered it on console, or purchased the season pass on Steam. It is possible those future episodes have already been developed, although buyers could also be refunded.
Whilst it is unfortunate that the game won’t be released on all consoles, it makes sense for Skybound to protect the quality of The Walking Dead brand. Considering its peak player count was less than 800 players last month, it doesn’t sound like too many people are going to mourn its passing.