Spellbreak, an audacious indie venture from bootstrapped startup Proletariat, was a fanciful battle royale game that mixed high fantasy with frenzied first-person shooter gameplay. The game’s services were shuttered around a month ago, despite the fact that its cancellation was confirmed immediately after Blizzard purchased the firm in 2022. While Spellbreak was often likened to the aesthetically identical Fortnite, many fans believed that it had its own individuality that wasn’t likely to be duplicated, making its ending heartbreaking.
While the game’s cancellation was announced in late June 2022, the community had been in upheaval for months because of a dearth of information and inconsistent contact from the production team. Although the popularity of free-to-play games typically depends on the regularity of improvements, it seems that the major upgrades made to Spellbreak in October as well as December 2020 have put the title on the right track. Proletariat’s tiny independent development team may have had trouble meeting the expectations of its players.
Spellbreak, which was officially removed from Steam on February 15, 2023, appears to be the newest casualty of the industry’s typically rapid cycle of releases. Spellbreak was a refreshing take on the battle royale genre, but it faced stiff competition from a plethora of free-to-play games with deeper gameplay and the support of bigger game developers and publishers. The difficulties of setting itself distinct from comparable titles while still releasing regular updates may have been too much for a tiny firm, which would explain the game’s cancellation and subsequent purchase by Blizzard.
And it’s not only indie studios like Proletariat that are having trouble standing out in the battle royale genre; Ubisoft just scrapped its ambitions for a Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon battle royale game, a move that was likely precipitated by the developer’s recent money problems.
Beyond that, however, it appears interested in battle royale games as a whole is starting to wane. For example, whereas titles like Fortnite as well as Call of Duty: Warzone were all the rage a few years ago, players now appear to prefer evacuation games like Escape from Tarkov.
Major studios are placing their bets on this genre as the next big thing, and Call of Duty has already joined in with the introduction of DMZ mode. The long-term benefits of assisting to widen the World of Warcraft product roadmap may have outweighed the short-term notoriety for Proletariat.