John Smedley's Pixelmage Games has closed a year after it started, with the former Sony Online Entertainment and Daybreak executive citing a lack of resources to complete its debut project.
Pixelmage was formally announced in January 2016, around four months after Smedley stepped down as CEO of Daybreak. The company's first game, Hero's Song, was notably ambitious, reflected in the $800,000 it set as a Kickstarter target and the addition of bestselling author Patrick Rothfuss to the team.
The Hero's Song Kickstarter campaign raised only $136,000 before it was cancelled, but Smedley informed GamesIndustry.biz that Pixelmage had "commitments for more [funding] if it's neccessary" when the studio was first announced. The company turned to IndieGogo in September, asking for $200,000 this time, but still raising just $94,000. In an interview at the time of the IndieGogo launch, Smedley said that the money would be used to pay staff salaries, and revealed that Pixelmage had raised $2.8 million from private investors.
"All we can do is show what we got and hope people like what they see enough to want to support us," he said. "This isn't a case of us not needing the money or trying to build a community. We want to keep more people on the game longer."
Hero's Song launched on Early Access in November, and it may be that Pixelmage was relying on that money to complete the game. According to SteamSpy's data, the game has just over 6,000 owners, and the studio cited its performance on Early Access as a factor in its decision to close.
"For the last year, our team has worked tirelessly to make the game we've dreamed about making, and with your support, and the support of our investors, we were able to get the game into Early Access," a statement from Pixelmage read. "Unfortunately sales fell short of what we needed to continue development. We knew going in that most startups don't make it, and as an indie game studio we hoped we would be the exception to that rule, but as it turned out we weren't."
Pixelmage is offering full refunds to its IndieGogo and Early Access customers.
2016 was a wonderful journey even if the end was rough. Thank you to our customers for coming on the journey with us.— John Smedley (@j_smedley) January 1, 2017