In 2020, developer Proletariat released the projectile-based PVP battle royale game Spellbreak on PC and consoles. The game was a little different from your standard battle royale, in that it involved gathering and combining magic spells to use on your opponents, which carved out a unique niche for it among the battle royale audience. Unfortunately, it seems like that niche was not enough, as Proletariat has announced that the game’s servers will be shut down next year and development has ceased.
The news comes from a blog post from Proletariat today, stating that they have “made the decision to end development of Spellbreak” and that it will be shut down in early 2023.
“Our vision was to create a fresh, multiplayer action-spellcasting game with exceptional movement and class customization that would give players the chance to unleash their inner battlemage,” the post reads. “We are grateful to everyone in the game’s community for exploring the magical worlds and experiences we created together. Spellbreak was an ambitious project that saw our team push new boundaries in design and development and we are excited to continue to innovate as we create new titles in the future.”
The post does not mention why they’re shutting down, but a Reddit post from Proletariat CEO Seth Sivak goes into more detail.
“Unfortunately, the game industry is a difficult business,” Sivak wrote. “Spellbreak was not able to break through and reach a sustainable place where we could continue to invest in it in the way we had dreamed of. We picked a hard path as an independent studio and decided to compete with some of the biggest games in the world. While we could not get the escape velocity needed, I do not regret the bold decisions we made in bringing Spellbreak to life.
In other words, the market is tough, and Spellbreak did not do well enough to warrant sustained development. Battle royales are, by definition, live service games that require constant attention. That’s tough for big studios like Epic that have been accused of crunching their development staff to keep Fortnite constantly spinning. For a smaller studio like Proletariat, it either needs to hit big so you can scale up or you’ve bet big with no back up.
It’s also just kind of a crowded market right now. The biggest entries into the battle royale market since Fortnite have been from Electronic Arts with Apex Legends and Activision with Warzone, games that do not exactly come from humble origins. Maybe it’s impossible for something smaller to sneak in through the cracks and become big without an incredible amount of luck behind it.
Whatever the case, it does not seem like Spellbreak had the chance to become that game and never will.