Indie Developers associated with Desura are outraged. The digital distribution site, Desura, now affiliated with Bad Juju Games Inc. has supposedly lost contact with all their developers for quite some time and have most importantly, neglected to pay them through its bundle site Indie Royale. Keeping them out of the loop when to expect their money or even to inform their developers what’s going on with the company.
The lack of communication was concerning for all the indie developers. When they surpassed the $500 dollar threshold (which changed to $250 later), they, rightfully so, expected to get paid, but didn’t. According to the contract they all received, all developers were supposed to be paid within seven days of the reported period whenever their game reached the minimum payment requirement, of $250 dollars.
Not hearing back from Desura since November of last year raised some suspicion for founder of Battle Fleet 2, Jedrzej Jonasz at Capital j Media. Ironically that’s when he released Battle Fleet 2 on Desura. Which also happened to be around the same time when they were acquired by Bad Juju Games Inc. from Linden Labs. At first, it wasn’t at all that new for him to get paid upfront. There can be delays in the business but after such a long period of time, he knew something was up.
“It was just annoying to wait a long time for a reply, but there are often delays in this business so waiting a month to hear back was not so uncommon,” he said. ”After the first month, though, I started to get concerned that there was something wrong as all communication, including unrelated emails, were not getting a response.”
When the story finally got traction on Reddit, Lisa Morrison posted a statement on their site regarding the indie developers affected. The post also highlights the CEO Tony Novak of Bad Juju Games is currently hospital ridden. Further trying to ensure that the situation will get better eventually but no specifics on the details were provided. https://web.archive.org/web/20161001050055/http://www.desura.com:80/news/regarding-the-payment-concerns-of-our-developers
When Jonasz read it, he was not pleased. He found it unacceptable for them to not to explain their disappearance.
“When I saw Lisa’s PR statement from Desura it made me really angry that they couldn’t even tell us the truth at this point, instead all they did was come up with some excuses, none of which even addressed why they didn’t respond to us during the past six months,” he said. “All she could tell me was that it will be worked out and we will get paid, but no details, no timeline, and no explanation regarding the lack of communication.”
He wasn’t the only one annoyed with how Desura handled things. Hearing there were others in the same situation as him baffled Jay Barnson, Director at Rampant Games, with his title, Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon. He thought his timing for expecting payment was “unlucky” since other developers have had issues since October of last year. The new management behind Bad Juju Games may have been the culprit.
“My last payment was just before Bad Juju (Games) took over,” he said. “So when I didn’t get a payment I thought, ’oops, when’s that supposed to happen?’ and then I heard other people were complaining [too].”
After all this, Barnson feels it’s tough for any indie developer to speak lightly about Desura. Although in the past they proved to be beneficial for him, his commitment to the company may change.
“In the mean time, I’m concerned about recommending the service to either customers or developers.” he said. “I’ve been pretty fond of it in the past, and it’s been a source of me finding a lot of ‘unknown’ indie titles. But I don’t want to continue to use it if there’s a chance the developers might never see payment.”
Trust has definitely been broken for Jonasz as well. He’s even taking precaution to remove his game off their network. He believes this is only the precursor to things to come.
“At this point I have asked to remove Battle Fleet 2 from Desura as I want nothing to do with that company and I have absolutely no faith that they will fix things in the future,” he said. “As soon as this story dies down and they have any financial troubles again, they will go back to this same behavior.”
Thankfully, there are other distributions options like Steam for developers, because it’s a serious issue when you can’t afford rent or food for your family due to a situation out of your control. Jonasz hopes after all the damage and grief Desura has caused, the company will hold up their end of the bargain.
“I hope a few things will happen, developers who are owed money from Desura are finally paid. They change the way they do business to include some transparency and improve communication with developers whose games are paying the bills,” he said. “And I hope other companies in the industry take note that it’s not okay to just sweep these kind of issues under the rug. But most importantly that indie developers (especially those one person teams who are just getting started) realize that they have a voice when faced with these kind of difficulties and they are not alone.”
We have contacted Desura on this debacle but have yet to hear back. The root of the cause may stem from Linden Labs selling Desura to Bad Juju. It appears this shift in management might’ve been the main reason for the lack of payment and communication. We will update the story as soon we receive word from Bad Juju or Desura.