Heading into 2023, The Day Before from developer Fntastic was one of Steam’s most wish-listed games – hype and goodwill garnered from the game’s impressive reveal trailer from 2021. A trailer that showed several minutes of what was described as an “open-world MMO survival set in a deadly, post-pandemic America.” And it looked good, a little bit of Ubisoft’s The Division, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, and a dash of DayZ.
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At a glance, it was easy to buy into the hype. However, those who took a closer look saw a game that was more concept than anything else, from shots copied and duplicated from popular game trailers to the revelation that its “gameplay” was all smoke and mirrors. Even the game’s logo and artwork, being “inspired” by The Last of Us, were questionable.
Since its reveal back in 2021, some of the development milestones for The Day Before include being pulled from Steam due to not filing the proper trademark paperwork, gameplay demos and presentations looking worse than what came before, and revelations that the studio was exploiting “volunteers” to develop the game. This brings us to The Day Before hitting Steam Early Access on December 7, 2023-last week.
It’s been such a wild ride that The Day Before’s launch into Early Access was also a complete mess, which is unsurprising. However, thousands of catastrophic reviews, the studio’s closure, and full refunds issued within four days of the game hitting digital shelves… are.
Looking at the raw numbers, The Day Before’s Early Access launch was a success – boasting a record of 38,104 concurrent players from an estimated 560,000 or so copies sold. The released version of the game was so far removed from the promises made in the original reveal trailer that many call The Day Before a scam to get people’s money. Instead of being an MMO or online survival game, the result was a barebones extraction shooter chock full of bugs and performance issues.
A buggy Early Access release is par for the course in many cases, but The Day Before, in its current state, is unplayable. And with the trainwreck of its release drawing attention online, it briefly became the game to watch and play on Twitch.
And to add fuel to the idea that The Day Before was (at best) a way to drum up interest in a game that hadn’t even begun development, developer Fntastic has now closed down and removed the game from sale. In addition, Fntastic’s publishing partner, Mytona, has now come out to offer full refunds to players no matter how much time they’ve spent playing The Day Before.
For Fntastic, it claims that poor initial sales have forced the studio to close immediately due to running out of money. “The Day Before has failed financially, and we lack the funds to continue,” the statement reads, adding that “we didn’t take any money from the public during the development of The Day Before.” This contradictory statement makes you wonder how making potential millions during a weekend constitutes failure for an indie studio that relies on unpaid “volunteers.”
This won’t be the last time we hear about The Day Before, as many want to know what happened and if it was a scam from the start. If so, it’s an impressive feat worth digging into. The positive initial response made the front page news on outlets like IGN, not to mention GeForce RTX coverage from NVIDIA.