What Happened To Desura?

If ever there was a good idea that really could have made an impact on Gaming, it would have been Desura. Billing itself as a independent version of Steam, the client aimed itself at the indie developers and smaller studios, enabling game downloading and patch updates for unpublished titles and helping new and learning developers expand their games to a larger player base.

Launching Desura in 2009, Scott Reismanis, the founder of DesuraNET and ModDB (and now the Director Of Digital at Linden Lab, creators of Second Life), stated that he never intended Desura to be in competition with Steam but for it to fill a market not currently taken advantage of. At the time this was a promising idea as the indie gaming market was beginning to take hold with popular indie releases such as Braid and Machinarium.

However the service has recently been dealt a killing blow. Desura was sold to ‘Bad Ju Ju Games’ who, in 2015, filed for bankruptcy. As of September 2016 neither the Desura website nor IndieRoyale website are operational. The CEO Tony Novak has not responded to any comments or questions on the matter. Turns out even employees were none the wiser.

“I asked Tony for confirmation and all he could tell me was, ‘The lawyers have said I can’t say anything or answer any questions yet, but yes it’s true.’ “I’m just shocked right now…stunned,” she said. “I had no idea this was coming.” — Lisa Morrison, Head of Developer Relations.

Dale Johnson of Vision Riders Entertainment had problems with receiving payment from the service during the Indie Royale Debut 100 Bundle:

By March I realized the issue wasn’t going to fix itself and contacted Desura directly, explaining what was happening and asking if they needed anything from me to get the payment to go through. Their support was friendly and courteous, responding to my email within hours and letting me know that they would ask the accounting department for a status update. I did not hear anything back — Dale Johnson

When Visions Riders released their game “Another Star” on Desura in 2014 there wasn’t much choice for digital retailing. Steam at that point didn’t accept indie games from all sources, and other retailers were either not ready or didn’t have the resources to mass publish independent developers. Developers had to hit a $500 threshold in sales before they could receive payment from Desura, and it seems that many developers had hit that target yet not received payment. After many policy changes and hassling with the company, Visions Riders announced they would not be releasing any more games on Desura.

In a blog post from Bad Ju Ju (which can be found archived here), they state that payments are moving forward and Desura 2.0 is still going ahead. However this was from May 27th 2015 and the website is currently down. Some of the team have moved away too.

Jeff Jirsa, former Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer is now working Infastructure at Crowdstrike. His last tweet on Desura was back in March 2015. Kenneth Yeast, former Director of Engineering, moved from Bad Ju Ju games in August 2015 to Evollve. Tony Novak, CEO of Bad Ju Ju games seems to have distanced himself from the company. Currently the President and founder of 2AdvancedStudios, there is very little mention of anything on his LinkedIn profile out Bad Ju Ju and his involvement with Desura.

So with no updates, no backers and, seemingly, no one in charge where does that leave Desura? Sadly dead in the wind. Steam has since opened it’s door to more applications from indie developers and the Humble Bundle is one of the leading distributors of independent titles.

Is there a need for a service like Desura? Would you as a gamer like a service that caters only to unheard and unknown developers?

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Sources (i’m new at medium, these look horrible):

http://www.visionriders.com/blog/2015/05/an-update-on-the-desura-situation/

http://www.polygon.com/2015/6/5/8736595/desuras-parent-company-files-for-bankruptcy-ceo-remains-silent