Update: Contacted by Gamasutra, Spintires developer Pavel Zagrebelnyy claimed he did not sabotage his own game and stated that buggy time-related piracy checks in the game are responsible for the persistent crashes some players have alleged were deliberate sabotage attempts. The original story (and Zabrebelnyy's full comments) follow.
Original story: There may be something rotten in the state of Spintires, as the game's players have taken to Reddit and its official forum recently to complain about alleged "time bombs" hidden in the code by the game's developer that are rendering it unplayable.
What makes this especially interesting is the fact that Spintires developer Pavel Zagrebelnyy has had a troubled relationship with the game's publisher, Oovee Game Studios, documented most recently in a Eurogamer feature published last week.
"They owe me a s***load of money according to our contract," Zagrebelnyy told Eurogamer. "But I don't have any leverage because my judicial skills are zero."
"Yes, our accounts are late. But they will be filed," Oovee representative Tony Fellas told Eurogamer. "Pavel is often upset, I'm afraid that geniuses are often like that."
Now, someone who goes by "Localhost" on the Oovee forums has authored an unofficial Spintires patch described as an "emergency response" to what the user suggests are willfully erroneous bits of game code intended to cause the game to crash if, for example, it is running on specific days.
Oovee studio manager Reece Bolton has acknowledged the crashing issues as being "date related" and says the company is working on a fix, but has otherwise not commented on the source of the problem. Gamasutra has reached out to Oovee representatives and Zagrebelnyy himself for further details on the matter.
Zagrebelnyy gave the following response:
"Well, I dont understand who and why started the rumours of sabotaging - apparently they are based on reverse engineering Spintires code?
Anyways, publisher (Oovee) have the source codes so they know (they should) I didn't sabotage Spintires - there is no such code!
But there is in fact a time-related bug (a self-check uses time functions to see if game wasn't cracked by pirates) which was not fixed in time (because we have little to no communicating with Oovee.)
The bug was fixed a day ago and should be uploaded to Steam - I dont know what actually prevents Oovee from going with it now.
In regards to Eurogamer article - I didn't actually know I was being interviewed when I gave my responses to the author of the article (I know Im being interviewed now hehe) - but yes - it's true, they violated our contract from day 1 basically and still owe me lots of money. What makes it worse is that they dont ever comment on that if I ask if they plan to resolve the issue anyhow. I was compensated but not in full.
But I would never do something that would affect the gamers! In fact I do my best to make sure the game (Spintires) only brings joy to whoever plays it.
So like I said - fixed game version should be LIVE soon - and I will try to pick better partners next time."
Update #2: Oovee representatives responded to Gamasutra's inquiry by passing along a link to a statement published last night by Fellas which reads, in part:
"We are aware of recent press speculation relating to sabotage of the Spintires game by the lead developer Pavel. We wish to express our displeasure at this speculation and totally refute these and other recent allegations."
It goes on to note that the problems players complained about are due to a "major bug" and that work on the game's next update has been halted in favor of addressing the issue.
"We believe we have now identified the problem and are now testing at this very moment a hot fix provided by Pavel, who is also ready to help further if needed. We're fully focused now on making the game work properly again, so please allow us to get this sorted first and we'll then be able to explain what has caused this and then carry on with future updates we have planned."
These problems led to Spintires being temporarily delisted from the Steam store this week, but it has now been restored.