After the digital version of Pandemic disappeared from online stores last week, publisher Asmodee Digital gave players a fairly cryptic response. A more direct statement has killed the hope of some big reveal or greater mystery - the game was simply too old.
As first reported by PC Gamer, Asmodee delisted Pandemic from both major mobile game markets, along with Steam, Microsoft and elsewhere, to clear the path for whatever comes next. The only available version exists on the Nintendo Switch’s eshop, but even that one will expire by the end of July 2022.
“The Pandemic app was released 9 years ago, and we no longer feel the current quality and reliability of the game is on par with what Pandemic deserves on digital platforms. The time has come to make way for the digital future of Pandemic," Asmodee Digital told PC Gamer via email.
"That is why we are progressively removing the current Pandemic games published by Asmodee Digital from all digital stores. Current owners will not be impacted: all players who have already purchased the game will still be able to play and download it. Pandemic is and will remain available to play online in single player mode or in multiplayer on Board Game Arena."
The cooperative board game first published by Z-Man Games became an instant classic and has since spawned several expansions, variants such as dice game Rapid Response, and a well-reviewed legacy version in Pandemic Legacy: Season Zero. The digital adaptation is one of over 20 titles Asmodee Digital worked to bring online, including Gloomhaven, Terraforming Mars, Catan and Scythe.
While Pandemic's digital sibling found success with those who wanted to take their cube-clearing on the go, the game has reportedly suffered significant graphical bugs, slow down and poorly received changes to the UI. Reddit users commenting on the post that initially brought the removal to light discussed how “wrecked” and “dated” Pandemic digital seemed, of late. They assumed the publisher had plans to completely overhaul, or even replace, the app with a more modern engine and codebase.
Whether that theory bears out remains to be seen. Asmodee Digital’s explanation is in many ways as vague as the initial response from customer service. It admits that the state of the game on computers and consoles did not provide a pleasant play experience, but the company makes no mention of a timeline for replacing it nor what it might look like. Dicebreaker reached out once again to Asmodee Digital to fill in these gaps but did not hear back before publication.
Asmodee Digital is itself one arm of the larger company, which is in the process of being purchased by the Embracer Group for €2.75 billion (£2.28 billion/$3.12 billion). The Swedish holding company has been on a buying spree over the last few years, picking up large video game companies THQ Nordic and Gearbox Studios, among others. Once the deal is finalised, Asmodee will mark the growing giant’s first foray into analogue tabletop games.
Anyone who previously purchased the game digitally will still be able to download it from marketplaces, but this pretty much confirms the end of any technical support or bugfixes going forward. Board Game Arena's virtual recreation of the boxed experience will remain, as well.