There’s no good way to say this, guys. We have some really sad news about the future of Fleck.
We’ve made the very difficult decision to wind the game down and cease operations on August 16. Read on for more details and personal messages from mars, helava, and blue.
Thanks for all the Dahlias.
1,964 friends. 1,326 Pink Dahlias. 1,790 Peach trees. 1,179 Ornamental Maples. That’s what I’ve collected over the nearly 3 years I’ve worked on Fleck. I wasn’t here for the launch of the game; I signed on with Self Aware in October 2010, a few months after the game went online. There was practically nothing there at the very beginning – just a map and some flowers. Everything else has been added since then, and the game has grown into the wonderfully complex thing that it is today. It’s been more fun to work on this game than anything else in my career, and I’m immensely proud of the work that the whole Fleck team has accomplished in those 3 years.
Free to play games are hard to make, and even harder to make succeed. The games industry in general is a hit driven business. Not every game has to be a hit, but if a game can’t attract a wide enough audience with enough players who keep playing, it will fail. Our games are built as services, which lets us do tremendously cool things like put every player together in the same world at the same time, but it also means our games have substantial ongoing costs to keep them online.
It’s with a heavy, weary heart that I now have to tell you that Fleck hasn’t been capable of paying for its own development and maintenance (not even close), and we have to make the difficult, painful, heartbreaking decision to stop working on it, take the game offline, and move our team onto other projects. We may still do some wacky stuff with Fleck, but we won’t be doing regular Thursday updates anymore, and Fleck’s last day of operation will be Friday, August 16.
Today we have disabled the bank and turned off in-game purchases. We don’t want anyone spending money on a game that won’t be around much longer, and we want to do our best to do right by the people who have so generously supported the game so far. If you made any purchase this year, we’ve credited you as many gems as you bought again, so you have something to play with for the next couple of months.
If you’ve spent money on Fleck we’d like to offer you currency in one of our other games, Big Fish Bingo or Big Fish Casino. I’m afraid we don’t have an automatic way of doing that, but if you write in to Customer Support with your Fleck ID we will very gladly help you out. We’re also working on some real-world merchandise to remember the game by. We’ll keep you updated on that.
It’s been an incredible pleasure to make this weird, unusual, quirky thing we call Fleck. It’s different from pretty much anything else out there. Maybe too different. It hasn’t been able to find its audience, but it has found you. Our mission at Self Aware Games is to make games that bring people together. Thanks for coming out and playing with us. Thanks for all the Dahlias.
From Seppo (helava):
There’s a lot to say about Fleck.
Mostly, that it has always been a challenge. It’s a staggeringly complex game, both from a technical and a design perspective. It is, in many ways, completely unlike anything else out there. Over the last three years, more times than not, when we were confronted with a question, we knew we had to create the answer because no one else had done what we were doing before.
I know there are going to be people who say, “If you tried this,” or “If you hadn’t done that,” things would be different. I know there’s going to be a lot of speculation about “why”, and the simple fact is that we couldn’t find Fleck a large enough audience to succeed. We take responsibility for that. Believe me, no one is more heartbroken than us at this outcome.
This isn’t something that just happened – it is something that *has been happening* since January of 2012. This isn’t a result of recent changes. It is a result of us spending years trying to fix a problem, and finally coming to the understanding that there is a fundamental issue with Fleck & new players that we simply cannot find a way to resolve.
I want to be clear, also, because I’m sure it will come up: This isn’t a result of Big Fish acquiring Self Aware Games. This isn’t a decision we were forced into by someone, it’s a decision we were forced into because there is no way to move forward. Part of the *reason* that we were acquired by Big Fish is that we felt that Fleck would have *more* of a chance at success, not less, and that has absolutely been the case.
If we felt we could make it a success, and it was just a matter of a reasonable amount of time, we would absolutely continue. That’s not the case.
All that sounds very formal – and I think it’s important that you know this is not a sudden thing, and that it’s not someone who forced our hand. It doesn’t really address the grief of losing something you love, even if it is a game. I’m sure there will be more to write later, both to answer questions, and just to talk through the process. We’ll all be online, and you can ask us anything. Some things we may not have answers to, or may not be able to answer, but as always, we’ll be as open as we can.
Lastly, I want to remind folks that Fleck was made by a team of wonderful people. Hard-working, brilliant, devoted artists, engineers, designers, and support staff. People who absolutely loved the game, and put a lot of themselves into it. I know some of you will be angry. You can find me in game and yell at me if that’s what you need to do. But please, please, please take a moment, before you express your anger, and understand that this is not something that we want, and it is as heartbreaking for us as it is for the players who loved Fleck.
But I hope you all know that we did our best.
seppo helava (helava)
From Jordan (blue):
I’ve only been on the team for a short period of Fleck’s life, but Fleck has been a part of my life in various forms since the first day I logged in back in January of 2011. Since that day, I’ve made weird and occasionally cool things out of plantable objects, been both victim and mastermind of countless Fleck-based pranks, made attempts at creating games and other fun stuff within Fleck’s mechanics, and in the process I’ve met all sorts of crazy awesome people both in game and in person. The time I’ve spent working on Fleck with Self Aware Games could never possibly be long enough. But in the limited time I’ve been privileged to work with these awesome people, I’ve seen these folks pull out all the stops and put everything they have into finding Fleck a home – trying to introduce new people to Fleck and show off all the things that you were discerning enough to notice whenever you joined that convinced you to stick around and play with us for awhile.
I want to thank you all immensely. Both as a player and in my short time as a programmer for Fleck, I have nothing but piles of fond memories and fun times with friends to take away. I hope that you also have similar experiences to carry with you and if not, there’s no better time than now to make a few lasting memories. See you in game for the festivities!