The multiplayer spaceship combat game Dead Star will essentially be shut down on November 1, seven months after launch. Armature Studios, the Austin-based team behind the game, is shutting down the game’s multiplayer servers on that date, leaving only the tutorial playable. Armature has also pulled the PS4 and PC game’s listings from the PlayStation and Steam stores.
“We are shutting down the game because, bluntly, the costs of operating the game now exceed its income,” Armature director of operations Jack Mathews told Kotaku over e-mail today. “This decision was not taken lightly internally, and was extremely sad to me personally. Armature put a lot of time, love and studio resources into both the game and the community, and we are extremely grateful to our community for their support in keeping this going as long as it could.”
Dead Star has taken a brief but strange journey since it was announced about a year ago. The 10v10 game was an unexpected offering from a studio helmed by the former lead creators of the first-person action-adventure Metroid Prime games. The studio had described the game as a “passion project.”
In December, the studio attempted to sell the game essentially as an early access game on PS4, despite the platform not offering such a program. Anyone who pre-ordered the game got access to a fully playable build. Armature quickly followed with an official Steam early access build and then launched the game properly in April. Sony offered Dead Star as a free game to all PlayStation Plus subscribers that month, but whatever surge in free downloads occurred did not generate a lasting player base.
Matches were hard to come by during the pre-launch period, easy to find in April and in the weeks that followed, but the server population is anemic now. At noon today as news broke of the planned shutdown, we tried finding a 10v10 match for 20 minutes but couldn’t find a match.
Dead Star may not be what people were expecting, but it played like no other recent game release. Matches in the game felt like battles between fleets of Star Wars and Star Trek-style ships, with small fighters tangling with bigger cruisers, phasers, lasers and bombs all bursting through space.
Armature had even concocted an innovative invasion mode, inspired by the Battlestar Galactica TV remake, that let teams of five players jump a massive capital ship from one 10v10 match to another. We played that mode with the developers earlier this year, and watching our run with them is as good a way as any to see Dead Star off:
Armature also launched ReCore this year, a PC/Xbox One title made in conjunction with Comcept and Microsoft. That game received mixed response, with praise for its look and game design but complaints, including from us, about bugs and loading times. Armature has issued patches that have fixed some of those issues.
Asked what fans should make of how Armature’s doing in light of the Dead Star news, Mathews said, “This is purely a financial decision to ensure the best possible future for Armature Studio.”