Kickstarter funded Bear Simulator abandoned by its creator

"Must be doing this PC game dev thing wrong because it is way too hard to stay happy and productive"

The developer behind Bear Simulator is abandoning the project, despite completing a successful $100,000 Kickstarter campaign.

John Farjay, the owner of Farjay Games, raised $100,571 from 3,871 backers in March 2014, but this isn't another example of a developer failing to honour its Kickstarter commitments. Farjay has shipped the game to his backers, and he has pledged to add the last of its promised features - an "island" - in a final update, yet he still wants to leave it behind.

In an update on Bear Simulator's Kickstarter page, Farjay pointed to several different reasons for his decision. Chief among them is the apparent belief that his game met a frosty reception, going so far as to claim it has, "a stigma against its name." A subsequent Kotaku article referenced a video made by Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg, in which the enormously popular YouTuber capped his Bear Simulator play session by attempting to get a refund, and then giving Farjay Games the finger. That video received 2.5 million views.

"Was really hoping the Steam release would go well but why would it, should have just gave the game to backers and not bother with Steam"

Farjay didn't offer any specific information regarding this "stigma," but there are other aspects to his decision. In the last update, he said he was "not skilled enough" to improve the game from its current state, and that he didn't want to "deal with the drama" of continuing its development.

"Can't ignore it because that causes more drama and can't do anything about it because that causes more drama," he said. "It was really fun making the game, trailers, updates, websites, tutorials, blog posts and stuff, hopefully you all liked those things."

Farjay's concerns seem to be rooted in everything that happened when his game stopped being a project in development and started being a consumer product - open to feedback and criticism and the lessons of objective data. Bear Simulator was released on Steam on February 26, and while it has 79 per cent positive user reviews, Farjay suggested that his hopes for the launch hadn't been realised. According to SteamSpy, Bear Simulator has amassed 2,372 owners in the time since its launch.

Farjay closed his update by thanking his backers, for both their support and the communication with them throughout Bear Simulator's development. His parting shot, however, was more sobering.

"Must be doing this PC game dev thing wrong because it is way too hard to stay happy and productive."

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Latest comments (7)

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago
Out of curiousity, are there any mental-health/counseling services aimed specifically at people in game dev? Not trying to imply anything about Farjay specifically, but It seems like it's something that might be useful? Even if Farjay himself wouldn't have found a use for it, there are no doubt others who read his words "it is way too hard to stay happy and productive," and find themselves nodding in agreement. I know the Sheffield NHS Trust has a counseling service that is for use by staff-members only - perhaps something similar, if it doesn't already exist?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 7th March 2016 9:54am

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Istvan Fabian Principal Engineer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe2 years ago
Sounds more like burn out and not being used to criticism.
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Chris Payne Managing Director & Founder, Quantum Soup Studios2 years ago
That is a good point Morville - I don't know anything about Farjay's circustances either, so in general terms; as the barriers to entry fall we should expect to see aspiring devs throwing themselves into a trial by fire which they may struggle to cope with - the technical/creative aspects of gamedev are hard enough without the social pressure of placating dissatisfied customers piled on top.

We now have for very extreme cases, but it would be good to see TIGA or UKIE offer some sort of stress counselling alongside their various training schemes. I don't know that I've ever felt stressed enough to use it, but my wife might disagree :)

[edit: spelling]

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Chris Payne on 7th March 2016 2:10pm

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Show all comments (7)
Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago

Again, trying not to be disrespectful to Farjay, but let's say Istvan is right - a combination of burnout and not being used to criticism is responsible for this situation. Not everyone who creates has the personality to balance work/life and the temperament to ignore even unkind words, let alone what some consumers throw out... Sure, people say grow thicker skin, but that's not the same as being able to work through issues and come out the other side happier and stronger than before. Obviously, people within the industry can seek mental health professionals anyways, but it really seems like the sort of thing professional bodies like TIGA and UKIE should already be doing.
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Tom Pickard Founder and Creative Director, Knifey Spoonie Games2 years ago
Like anything you put your heart and soul into, criticism can burn deeply. I can imagine PewDies incredibly harsh video would rock most young game devs these days as normally you want him to play your game to get exposure.. You need a thick skin to create anything in this age..

However this may also sound a tad cynical, but maybe he was also over estimating his market, and the lack of sales was the biggest crusher of his motivation. I mean if you need the money to live then poor sales means you need to find alternate income. Maybe he put too much emphasis on it needing to succeed finacially too.
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Jamie Madigan Psychologist 2 years ago
On the one hand: the most popular person on YouTube said mean things about him and his work.
On the other hand: he can now legitimately claim on his vita that he has shipped a game. Or an additional game, if this isn't his first.

That second one there probably puts him ahead of most aspiring game devs, right? In that it's far more important to any prospective employer or collaborator than what any YouTuber says.
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Sandy Lobban Founder, Noise Me Up2 years ago
Crowd funding without scrutiny can result in this. I would at the very least expect the CV and credentials of the team before making a investment.
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