The Day Before's rise to infamy has been swift. Promised for an eventual PS5 release, it was released last week into Steams Early Access in an atrocious state, and players were quick to note it only vaguely resembled the product promised. The developer announced its dissolution days later, effective immediately, before the studio's owners, brothers named Gotovtsev, dropped a digital smoke bomb and disappeared entirely.
Speaking to DualShockers anonymously (thanks, Eurogamer), a former Fntastic developer has described the somewhat chaotic situation at the studio: "No one from our team knows why they called it an MMO. It was always a third-person shooter with some co-op mechanics. Not one RPG mechanic was implemented - skills were an idea, and they were in the prototype stage, but nothing more."
The source said that had been the case for the last two years and that "from the beginning, the idea was that servers would be under 100 people - that is not an MMO. No clans, no raids, closed hubs." There was little communication between the development team and Fntastic founders Eduard and Aisen Gotovtsev, who "made every gameplay and design decision" and threatened employees who disagreed with dismissal. Worse: "A lot of stupid ideas were implemented, removed and re-implemented because the brothers thought they knew better than us about what people wanted. A huge amount of time and work was wasted."
Financially, the source confirmed reports from Redditors that suggest around 200k copies were sold on Steam, with more than 90k being refunded. Regardless of playtime, anyone who purchased the game is entitled to a refund. Fntastic's official response to all this? "This was our first big experience. Sh*t happens."
Yahoo Gaming SEA did some fantastic reporting and went to the developer's Singapore-based studio, which turned out to be a mixed working co-op Fntastic used as a physical address for virtual office space. Digging through financial findings, they found that the studio made S$3.4 million in revenue last year and was left with S$840k after paying taxes and expenses. Both brothers were paid S$200k each, used a further S$308k for travel expenses, and apparently didn't pay any employees based in Singapore.
The source says they "didn't think the CEOs got any money from sales" of The Day Before, which is something at least. The entire affair has been strange and begs the question, was the elaborate deception worth the effort?