Cancelled drag-themed fighting game, Drag Her!, released as a free unfinished game

Posted on May 18, 2024

Mama, this is garbage. Game development is rough, and it’s freaking expensive. Because of it, there are so many unfinished games out there that had to throw in the towel due to not having the funds. Unfortunately, this has happened to Los Angeles-based game studio, Fighting Chance Games. The team was working on Drag Her!, a 2D fighter based around the kings and queens of drag.

In what is synonymous with delays, cancellations, or just straight-up tomfoolery, Fighting Chance Games has posted the ghastly ‘white text, black background’ image. However, this one has a bit more flair to it. In their post, the team states that after three years of development, they’re shutting their doors and giving Drag Her! a boot. Why? Due to “a simple lack of funding”. Drag Her! was pitched to multiple publishers but got no bites. The team received a “groundswell of audience support, a fully funded Kickstarter”, grant applications and many showcases at events. But even with all that, no publisher wanted to bank on the indie team.

Adding to that, the team knew what they were up against. Fighting Chance Games had a roster of talent, gaming industry veterans from Blizzard, WB Games and Schell, as well as an animation team that’s worked with Nickelodeon, Adult Swim and Skullgirls. It’s not as if they were all fresh faces to the gaming industry and bit off more than they can chew. Regardless, it still sucks to hear. Drag Her! had a very successful Kickstarter campaign with just over $ 75,000 USD raised from the $ 69,000 USD goal. So it’s not like there isn’t an audience for this kind of game.

Even the man of a thousand voices, Matthew Mercer, not only backed the game but tweeted about it. But unfortunately, LGBTQIA+ representation does lack in media and especially in video games. This is somewhat silly, because 1 in 5 gamers are LGBTQIA+, as reported in GLAAD’s 2024 LGBTQIA+ Gaming Report. Even with that real-world representation, most companies try to avoid anything related to queerness. But this especially rings true as of late, and especially anything related to the art of drag.

Drag queen Alaska with large nails fighting drag queen Kim Chi who is weilding a corn cob.

But hey, it’s not all doom and gloom! There’s been an outpouring of responses from fellow game devs and supporters of the title. Even drag queens Kim Chi, Jiggly Caliente and Laganja Estranja have commented on Fighting Chance Games’ Instagram post. With Estranja even saying that she has hopes that “Drag Her will be dragged back to life”. Fighting Chance Games is also finding some humour despite the awful situation. In their initial post, fans can still get a chance to play Drag Her!, but under its new title: Drag Her! Failure to Launch Edition. The announcement on TikTok uses music from the American animated TV show, Spongebob Squarepants, used during moments of sadness. Aptly titled, ‘Hawaiian Cocktail‘.

The unfinished game is now live on Steam and is completely free. But, to reiterate, it is very unfinished. The announced roster of drag artists included Drag Race alumni BenDeLaCreme, Alaska, Kim Chi, Manila Luzon, Asia O’Hara and Laganja Estranja. As well as the winner of season 3’s The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula, Landon Cider. Queens Jiggly Caliente, and Tammy Brown would be assist characters and Dragula alum, Meatball, would voice the MC. However, the game only features Alaska, Kim Chi and Laganja as playable characters with the rest of the roster silhouetted.

Drag queen Laganja Estranja floating on a cloud while smoking a joint, with drag queen Alaska standing and watching Laganja floating.

Drag Her! has three gameplay modes. You can play locally with up to four friends (or against an AI), online (though it might be difficult to find a match), and in a sandbox where you can try out movesets. The gameplay is pretty good, though admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of the fighting genre aside from playing Mortal Kombat at parties. But as a fan of drag, this is ART. There’s even some customisation when it comes to the queens. Each outfit references either pop culture or the queens themselves. Alaska’s Red 4 Filth outfit, Laganja’s many marijuana-related outfits or Kim Chi’s Animazing outfit (Kim Chi often sees herself as a live-action anime character). Even their moves call back to a reference. It’s clear how much love the devs have for drag.

Honestly, this is such a sad affair. Game cancellation isn’t new, some companies announce their cancelled games and some never see the light of day. But when it comes to games that are so inherently and in your face about how queer they are, it does hurt. But hopefully, fans of the game find some enjoyment out of the unfinished version. And hopefully the team at Fighting Chance are able to bounce back from this. I guess drag really isn’t a contact sport. Maybe they should ask if legendary producer, Alexis Michelle, can publish their game?