Four days after launching the controversial The Day Before, developer Fntastic has suddenly announced its closure, effective immediately.
“Today, we announce the closure of Fntastic studio,” it said in a statement. “Unfortunately, The Day Before has failed financially, and we lack the funds to continue. All income received is being used to pay off debts to our partners.
“We invested all our efforts, resources, and man-hours into the development of The Day Before, which was our first huge game. We really wanted to release new patches to reveal the full potential of the game, but unfortunately, we don’t have the funding to continue the work.
“It’s important to note that we didn’t take any money from the public during the development of The Day Before; there were no pre-orders or crowdfunding campaigns. We worked tirelessly for five years, pouring our blood, sweat, and tears into the game.”
— Fntastic (@FntasticHQ) December 11, 2023
The Day Before has been hugely controversial from almost the minute it was announced. Fntastic seemed unwilling to share much in the way of footage which led to people doubting the game could ever live up to the massive promises being made or that it was even real. Then came the news that it was mostly being developed by “volunteers” rather than paid employees. Accusations about assets being stolen from other games were also made. There was also a trademark dispute which delayed its release by eight months and led to the revelation that Fntastic didn’t register The Day Before as a trademark until five months after it had announced it.
The now inactive Steam page for The Day Before describes it as an “open-world MMO survival set in a deadly, post-pandemic America overrun by flesh-hungry infected and survivors killing each other for food.” However, when the game was released just days ago, thousands of negative reviews began flooding in, with many of them pointing out that it isn’t an MMO or even a survival game – it’s actually more like a very basic extraction shooter.
The same reviews also pointed out that the game is a technical mess, extremely barebones and basically just shit.
There’s also a lot of doubt surrounding Fntastic’s own claim that The Day Before took 5 years to make. Much of the game seems to be made using assets that are bought directly from the Unreal Engine store, and many of those only became available in 2021 and 2022, suggesting a much shorter development time than the alleged 5 years. People also rightfully point out that Fntastic was not incorporated until 2021, again casting doubt over their own timeline of events.
There’s nothing wrong with using existing assets. Although it does get a bad rap from some people, it also saves a lot of development time and money, both very important for a small studio working with a tight budget. What is wrong is implying that the game was built from the ground up when it clearly wasn’t, and completely lying about what style of game it is.
Needless to say, many people are declaring the game to be a scam, joining the thousands of others who have been saying the same thing since The Day Before was announced. It’s an understandable conclusion to arrive at: despite the controversy, or perhaps even because of it, The Day Before was actually the most wish-listed game on all of Steam for quite a while. On top of that, it managed to peak at just over 38,000 players when it launched. With a price of $40 some very quick maths indicates at least $1.5 million in sales. Of course, we can’t know for sure but I’m quite confident that it’s probably quite a bit higher than that. Many people are wondering, then, if the devs have taken the cash and done a runner.
That does seem unlikely, though, as the breakdown of money is a bit more complex. For example, Steam takes 30% of the sales, and also doesn’t pay developers until the end of the month, meaning Fntastic wouldn’t see any of the cash until the end of December. Then there’s tax, VAT, engine fees and more.
Some potential support information that this was a scam is the fact that Fntastic appears to be a Russian company even though Fntastic went to lengths to cast itself as being a Singapore studio. Reddit user Glacia managed to locate Fntastic via public Russian records, and in their search noted the existence of Fntastic Kazakhstand as well. Interestingly, both were run by CEO Gotovtsev Eduard Innokentievich. However, in 2022 Gotovtsev Eduard Innokentievich stepped down as CEO of LLC INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS AND TECHNOLOGIES – SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT (formerly LLC Fntastic) in 2021 and was replaced by a woman who appears to be some sort of low level medical worker. Gotovtsev Eduard Innokentievich then stepped down as CEO of Fntastic Kazakhstan just a few months ago.
Other people have pointed out that Fntastic does seem to be legitimately registered in Singapore, though, and you can see a breakdown of the company, including its revenue, by paying a small fee.
Another odd detail can be found in one of their older games called The Wild Eight. The developer of that game was changed just a day or two ago from Fntastic to Eight Points, as spotted on Reddit. While this could be an attempt by Fntastic to rebrand itself under a new name, The Wild Eight was bought by publisher HypeTrain Digital. A little more digging seems to suggest the game was actually originally under development by a team named Eight Points before shifting to Fntastic. Some people have wondered if Eight Points simply changed its name.
This could be an attempt by HypeTrain to distance itself from Fntastic. I’ve reached out to Hypetrain for clarification and will update this should I get an answer.
UPDATE: while Hypetrain did not reply to me, they did reply to Eurogamer. They say that Fntastic were indeed the original developers of The Wild Eight but discontinued working on the game after it was launched into Early Access. All business relationships with Fntastic were terminated in 2017.
“Following the release of The Day Before on December 7, 2023, a wave of negative reviews for The Wild Eight began, unrelated to the game itself but associated with the original development studio, Fntastic,” said Hypetrain. “Yesterday, we made the decision to remove any mention of the developer Fntastic from the game’s page.”
Confused by all of this? Well, so am I. There’s a lot of information, theories and facts to dig into, and I can see myself following down the rabbit hole in the days to come.
Whether a scam or just a bad game, The Day Before has been a disaster resulting in thousands of people paying for a terrible product. The closure of Fntastic mere days after launching the game is deeply suspicious, as is the fact that Fntastic has scrubbed the existence of the game from every area possible. Hopefully anyone who bought this horrendous game has managed to get a refund.