Indie Game Publisher Shuts Down, All Staff Laid Off

It has been a challenging year for game devs.

Versus Evil, publisher of Pillars of Eternity for Nintendo Switch, The Banner Saga and many more games has officially shut down and all staff has been laid off. The news was announced on December 22nd, 2023 on Twitter and came as a shock to fans.

From their official Twitter account, @vs_evil, they wrote, “Today is a sad day. After 10 wonderful years, Versus Evil is shutting its doors. We’ve loved bringing you the best indie games we could find & sharing so many happy memories with you all, our amazing community! From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU for everything!”

The game ‘Broken Roads’ by developer Drop Bear Bytes (publisher Versus Evil) is still going ahead with development and is planning to launch in early 2024.

Versus Evil helped bring about quite a few well-known and critically acclaimed indie titles including The Banner Saga trilogy by Stoic Studio, Mothergunship by Terrible Posture Games as well as Into the Breach by Subset Games.

Versus Evil abandoned the Switch port of Pillars of Eternity in 2021

The Nintendo Switch port of Pillars of Eternity came out on August 8, 2019, but on February 8, 2021, it was abandoned by Versus Evil.

After 1.5 years of bug fixes, it was announced that they “reached a limit on what we can do with our updates to the game and have exhausted the options left to us from the PC original in regards to the limitations of the hardware we are working with.”

They continued, “We do understand that this will leave issues present that have been reported to us, such as the Ranger pet not appearing but at this time, we are unable to patch the game further.”

As per this Reddit post, the game was playable and players could complete it at that time, but it still had bugs that were not present in the PC version. You can find more community reactions here.

When asked whether the game will be delisted from the eShop and if refunds will be issued, Versus Evil replied, “If you’d like to request a refund, we recommend contacting Nintendo directly and referencing our statement. They should be able to handle this for you.”

To another player, they responded with, “We don’t have access to eShop sales ourselves, so all refunds do have to go through Nintendo directly. They should be able to help.”

versus evil refunds reply
Source: Twitter

TinyBuild acquires Versus Evil in 2021

In November 2021, tinyBuild (the publisher of Hello Neighbor, Tinykin, and Graveyard Keeper) acquired Versus Evil.

It appears that the sudden closure was a decision by its parent company tinyBuild because on December 22, 2023, a few weeks after founder Steve Escalante left the company, all Versus Evil staff were suddenly laid off.

Back on 5th December 2023, it was announced in a trading update that Tinybuild has been performing “below expectations in Q4, after unusually weak trading in October” and so they are taking “accelerated cost action to re-align investments with expected revenues.”

It also mentions, “Versus Evil continues to underperform with the delay of three out of four games into 2024.”

Under Current Trading and Cost Action, it says, “Since the publication of the Company’s interim results in September 2023 (“2023 Half Year Results”), the market has deteriorated further and negotiations of certain large contracts have extended into the final month of the year. These remain under negotiation and may not be signed by year-end, or at all. The continued underperformance of Versus Evil which delayed into 2024 three out of four games originally planned for release in H2 2023, including the widely anticipated Broken Roads, also weighed on group performance.”

You can take a look at its entirety here.

Former employees of TinyBuild’s internal developer Hakjak Studios also say it has been shut down as of December 6, 2023, as per Eurogamer.

The closure of Versus Evil is a reminder of the challenges faced by the indie game industry. The market keeps changing and even successful publishers aren’t immune to the economic downturns. We understand that this is a difficult time for the company’s staff and developers and wish everyone involved all the best in the future.