The gaming industry is a competitive and risky business, where success and failure can depend on factors beyond the control of the developers. This is the harsh reality that Jukai Studio, the developer of the action-horror game Stray Souls, had to face when it announced its shutdown on January 3, 2024.
Stray Souls was released on October 31, 2023, as a third-person action-horror game that featured a dark and twisted story, a variety of weapons and abilities, and a dynamic combat system. The game was published by Versus Evil, an independent publisher that had previously worked on titles such as The Banner Saga and Pillars of Eternity.
The game received mixed reviews from critics and players, who praised its atmosphere, graphics, and sound design, but criticized its technical issues, repetitive gameplay, and lack of originality. The game also faced stiff competition from other horror games that were released around the same time, such as Resident Evil Village, The Medium, and Little Nightmares II.
According to the developer, the game sold poorly and did not meet the expectations of the publisher or the investors. The game’s poor performance also affected the financial situation of Versus Evil, which announced its closure on January 2, 2024.
Cyberbullying and Legal Troubles
However, the game’s failure was not the only reason for the studio’s closure. According to a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter), the developer and its staff were subjected to cyberattacks and cyberbullying from an unknown perpetrator, who also harassed the game’s community and other publisher dev teams.
The statement claimed that the cyberattacker sent unwanted messages and emails, hacked the studio’s website and social media accounts, and spread false rumors and accusations about the game and the developer. The statement also said that the cyberattacker threatened to leak personal information and confidential data, and even attempted to sabotage the game’s development and launch.
The developer said that it had reported the cyberattacks to the authorities and had taken legal action against the cyberattacker, but did not reveal any details about the identity or the motive of the perpetrator. The developer also said that it had received support and solidarity from other developers and publishers in the industry, who had faced similar cyberattacks in the past.
A Sad Farewell
The statement concluded by thanking the fans and the supporters of the game and the studio, and expressing regret and sadness for the closure. The statement also said that no one from the studio had been laid off, as the studio had only two core members and several contracted personnel, who had decided to go their separate ways.
The statement also said that the game would remain in the hands of the players, and that the developer hoped that the game would find its audience and appreciation in the future. The statement ended with a wish for a better year for the gaming industry and the world in general.
The closure of Jukai Studio is a tragic example of the challenges and difficulties that independent game developers face in the modern gaming market, where cyberattacks, cyberbullying, and poor sales can ruin years of hard work and passion.