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American McGee's Spicy Horse studio downsizes to survive
American McGee's Spicy Horse studio downsizes to survive
January 29, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

January 29, 2014 | By Christian Nutt
More: Console/PC, Indie, Business/Marketing

Though Akaneiro: Demon Hunters was successfully funded via Kickstarter for over $200,000, in an update on the crowdfunding site today, developer American McGee revealed that his studio has invested $1.7 million in the title so far but only recouped $300,000.

Consequently, the game's development has been reduced from 15 staff to two, as McGee shifts his studio's efforts toward collectible card/strategy game The Gate. The studio has suffered "downsizing" of an unspecified number of staff in the wake of this decision.

"Life as an independent developer is filled with the constant threat of failure. This isn't the first time in our 8 year history we've faced this sort of challenge," writes McGee. "As is usually the case after these sorts of painful adjustments, we are now in a better position to survive, build success with The Gate, and re-focus development on Akaneiro with lessons learned from the mistakes we've made."

Akaneiro: Demon Hunters is currently available for purchase via Steam Early Access, or free-to-play via its official website.

McGee has spoken to Gamasutra in the past about building his Shanghai-based studio, Spicy Horse, and also about the challenges in the shift away from triple-A development.

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SD Marlow
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I get the F2P on iOS/Android thing but early access on Steam for a game that is done? This seems like an abuse of the early access model. Instead of full game plus DLC later, they are selling a PC game with an IAP system? Not really clear to me how that works. Also, $500k from successful Kickstarter and IAP's and you're still over a million in the hole?

Christian Nutt
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It's not done -- it's been undergoing ongoing development. They still have 2 developers on it; the KS update alludes to plans to add multiplayer and other functionality.

Though there seems to be something of a fuzzy line between "Early Access" and GaaS-style behavior as typified by mobile devs. Of course, that isn't down to Spicy Horse, just the different mentalities of the audiences and devs on different target platforms...