Board game publisher CMON has purchased the rights to Mythic Games’ two remaining Kickstarter campaigns - HEL: The Last Saga and Anastyr - after the studio announced that it could no longer produce and distribute either without squeezing more money from backers.
CMON, who manages the massively popular Zombicide franchise, announced that it would take over production and fulfilment of both projects on the same day Mythic Games informed backers that the company could no longer handle either campaign given their current resources and personnel. Mythic Games undertook a restructure in December 2022, significantly reducing their staff and shrinking their portfolio to three main projects - the Darkest Dungeon board game, HEL and Anastyr.
“We have to admit that this game, as it was conceived from the beginning, is excessively difficult, if not impossible, to complete with our current means despite the enormous resources already committed, whether in terms of time, team, or budget,” Mythic Games said in a Kickstarter update. “Unless, of course, we were to ask our backers for a financial contribution. A contribution for this game would far exceed what we’ve been asking for other projects, knowing that backers would also have to wait a long time to receive it. This did not seem like an acceptable solution to us.”
Mythic Games upset backers of both Darkest Dungeon and 6: Siege by requesting additional payments in order to produce and distribute the video games-turned-tabletop experiences. Despite each campaign raising more than $1 million (Darkest Dungeon raked in $5.6 million), the Luxembourg-based Mythic Games blamed their bungled management on a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic’s disastrous effect on global shipping infrastructure and then Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This sounds reasonable - many tabletop companies have bemoaned similar situations - but so is the anger of backers asked to pay half again what they pledged in order to receive their board games in the first place.
Solving the production of CMON’s two new titles won’t be easy, according to the publisher’s own statement on Kickstarter: “Upon careful evaluation of both titles, we have concluded that neither HEL: The Last Saga nor Anastyr are currently ready for publication in their current state and will require substantial effort to complete them,” a CMON representative wrote. “We want to assure you that we are committed to delivering quality gaming experiences, and we appreciate your understanding and support during our development.”
Mythic Games previously crowdfunded HEL: The Last Saga and Anastyr for $2.2 million and $1.1 million dollars, respectively, and promised hefty experiences full of narrative missions, miniature lines and robust rule sets. CMON plans to put both through “an extensive development and play-testing process”, effectively creating new games - different in design and likely missing much of what was originally promised to backers.
“We are currently working to make the games stay true to the original vision while making sure that the quality of the final product lives up to our standards. For HEL, we’re focusing the content on fewer, but more robust ‘stories’, while for Anastyr, our development is concentrating on reducing the complexity found in the number of regions,” CMON wrote in an FAQ. “Again, this can change, as we work toward creating the best experience each of these games can offer.”
Those who paid for either HEL or Anastyr on Kickstarter at any level will be eligible for a free English or French language copy of CMON’s re-developed versions, but the offer won’t include planned expansions - folks will need to pay “third party charges such as shipping and VAT” if they want anything beyond the core box. Mythic Games claims it will still honour refunds on the original campaigns if backers wish, but comments seem to imply that process has been painfully slow - some are still waiting on their requests from 2022.
Fans are understandably sceptical that Mythic Games’ outstanding projects, Rise of the Necromancers and Monsterpocalyse, won’t suffer similar delays. The studio claims they are moving all available resources towards fulfilling 6: Siege and Darkest Dungeon to remaining backers. Dark Souls board game maker Steamforged pulled a similar manoeuvre to CMON by rescuing Blacklist Games’ beat-em-up title Street Masters towards the end of last year.