The indie turn-based Great Big War Game is now back on Steam following a rather unfortunate and shady launch for Rubicon Development, who it seems were 'conned' by a so-called publisher.
However that legal drama is all over for now, and while those initial sales didn't fill Rubicon's coffers, the indie team has their IP rights back and their rightful claim to all their hard work.
While this might be considered the true launch for Great Big War Game, they aren't counted as a new title despite all the publisher trouble, so Rubicon need all the press and community help they can get to make some noise. The indie studio was left holding the bag, so to speak.
Great Big War Game is available once more on Steam for £6.99. It was nominated back in 2013 for a BAFTA in the best strategy game category.
Here's a full statement from studio co-founder Paul Johnson:
"We always wanted Great Big War Game on PC, but we didn't think we could drive a Greenlight because our fanbase, reputation and what visibility we have came from the mobile crowd. Nor did we, at the time, have enough press savvy to get a direct downloadable version noticed or covered.
Instead, we made overtures to some smaller publishers that the game was available, and a few got in contact. One publisher made a particularly good pitch, including a presence in Walmart, Target and Steam, so we jumped at it. Steam was always our number one desire and they were all over that, so we agreed a deal. While they did get us onto Steam, those big retailers never happened.
From the Steam sales, we got two paychecks from the publisher over the next six months, which seemed very low ball compared to the volume of new players on our multiplayer system.
And then we never heard from them again.
Fortunately, Valve - after some appropriate legal confirmations - graciously allowed us to transfer the rights back to Rubicon, and the game went live under our banner a few days ago.
Unfortunately, however, this means that it doesn't qualify as a new title, so we're not getting any of the usual release fanfare that all Steam titles get to kick them off. And of course, the elephant in the room here is that anyone interested in buying the game probably already did by now, and paid someone else for it, so we're not going to make much money oursleves from here on out. That ship has sailed.
In short, be careful what you wish for. We got our game onto Steam like we always wanted, and personally earned practically nothing from it, despite shifting a lot of units from what I can tell. We can't see the publisher's sales history - that still belongs to them.
There are other downsides too. The game initially shipped with some bugs, like an alt-tab issue on some machines. We fixed these diligently and sent new builds to the publisher.
But they were slow in pushing the updates live, and the bugs kept attracting a lot of heat from customers. Of course, our name is all over it, so this general tardiness made us look bad, where in reality we try to be very diligent with our customer support and general involvement. I've seen posts in the discussion groups about what a bunch of assholes Rubicon are, but I honestly believe we're blameless. So not only did we not earn much, we attracted ill-feeling too.
Now it's on Steam and, of course, we're proud to have our title there. We're very grateful to Valve for helping with that. A bizarre set of circumstances made that worth very little to us financially, but I still love that I can point to the Steam store and see our game sat there. It feels like we've grown up."