Spilt Milk Studios is shutting down its MMO roguelike space shooter Lazarus after nearly three years in open alpha, the studio announced today.
"We spent months and years with a tiny team, exploring the challenges and opportunities of a new design space - persistence, scale, the kinds of things that the cloud can offer - and in the process providing feedback to help our technology partner Improbable improve their tech as well as making Lazarus brilliant fun," the studio said on the game's official site. "And we're immensely proud of what we achieved. But after a long period of Open Alpha, we've made one of the toughest decisions of our careers: we are not going to release Lazarus."
In a FAQ regarding the decision, it offered a more detailed explanation.
"Lazarus is a brilliant game and the people who play it with us are amazing, but it did not reach a point during its alpha that would give us the confidence that it would launch successfully," the company said. "Running a game has many elements - things like server costs and software licenses, the cost of maintaining, running and updating the game as it grows with new features and content, and the licensing of all of the services we use to run things like player accounts and whatnot.
"Put simply, if we were to launch Lazarus, the cost of maintaining and expanding the game as we marketed it to more players and worked on our monetisation would put a dangerous financial strain on an independent games studio like ours. We love both Lazarus and the community that has grown around it, but we can't take that risk."
Lazarus will remain online until noon GMT on September 12.
This is the third high-profile game using Improbable's SpatialOS engine to shut down in recent months. In May, Bossa Studios announced the closure of Worlds Adrift, saying the game was "no longer commercially viable" in light of the "huge financial commitment." The 1,000-player battle royale game Maverick: Proving Grounds had development halted earlier this month "due to insufficient funding" when developer Automaton Games entered administration.
Update: An Improbable spokesperson gave GamesIndustry.biz the following comment:
"These are three very different situations - different kinds of games being made by different studios, and with different reasons for closing down. The one thing we would say about this is that many games do not reach a full launch, and that ambitious, visionary products always contain some risk."
Specific to Spilt Milk, the representative said, "Spilt Milk Studios is a talented studio who started developing with SpatialOS as early adopters. We're sorry to see Lazarus will not get a full release, but we hugely appreciate Spilt Milk's early interest in SpatialOS, and the improvements to the platform that came from their feedback. We'll look forward to seeing their future games."