Well, word spread on e-mail, then Beasts of War broke the news, and finally today we have official news from the company themselves…Bastion Studios are no more, and with them, Ex Illis….
Right after the holidays, a series of event led us to the conclusion that a shutdown of operations, at least a temporary one, was needed. While sales are on the rise, communities are growing and our distribution network is improving everyday, it became apparent that we couldn’t continue with our current financial structure. The staff working at Bastion, myself included, has been let go, but it remains our collective aim to work together again once more on Ex illis with a new financial partner. Efforts are being made on that front, but as you can imagine, we are not in a position where we can freely discuss these things yet.
Despite this news, the servers will continue to stay up for the time being. This, and the fate of the Demon Horde box set, is of course intimately related to the arrival of new financial partners. While the future as a company is still uncertain, we have pledged to the player community that the servers would stay up and running and we intend to keep this promise.
This has been an emotional time for all of us at Bastion. We have been working hard over the last three years to create a game we are truly proud of, working hard in the past few months to avoid this situation, and now that it became unavoidable, we are still working hard to set it straight. You are welcome to write us at firstname.lastname@example.org, but I apologize in advance if we do not have the time to answer to them individually.
So, what does this mean?
Well, for the moment, it means that Ex Illis is still playable, as the servers are still available – so you can still create musters, level units and allocate skills…how long for is another matter.
Without investment, there will be no new models…and once the contract on the servers runs out, there will be no more game. OK, you can ensure that you have loaded all your musters onto your software…so you could still play games, but that will be it.
At that point, Ex Illis will be no more…
…unless they can find new investment, of course.
So what went wrong? Freidrich states that sales and distribution were on the increase, which sounds healthy enough.
Honestly? We can only speculate, but I suspect that simple cashflow issues may very well be at the core of the problem. It’s a problem that causes many small businesses to fail, maybe here to?
There are other theories of course…especially given the very public issues at Wargames Factory and the fact that both WF and Bastion use the same miniatures manufacturer – Ghost Studios.
I think we may never know (and, to be honest, it’s probably none of our business)
For me, the sad thing is that we face the real prospect of losing a really good, innovative game, that was probably just about to find it’s feet.
This year was going to potentially be a big year – they finally had UK distribution, and we were planning several events to help ‘launch’ the game in the UK. These have obviously been put on hold.
Ex Illis suffered an awful lot of bad press in the gaming community on various forums. Whilst I’m not claiming for a minute that the game was perfect (what game is?), I think it suffered some very unjustified ‘rubbishing’ – much of the time from people who had never played the game, but who just didn’t like the idea. These views tended to perpetuate some inaccurate perceptions of the game. I certainly came across the same criticisms on several forums, which would be simply dispelled if the people concerned had bothered to give the game a try.
It certainly wasn’t a concept that everyone was going to find popular, or even desirable. As I have said on several occasions, I was incredibly sceptical of the whole idea – and even as a convert, I still missed rolling the dice. And of course, the simple fact that you had to have, as a bare minimum, an iPod touch, iPhone, iPad or laptop to play the game was always going to limit your potential audience…
…but Ex Illis tried something different. A game where you didn’t need to worry about learning the rules to have a good, fun experience – but a game that rewarded time spent learning how each unit, and each attribute of each unit, combined in the game. And lets face it, the software is the ultimate rules umpire, so if nothing else, Ex Illis was a near perfect Tournament game…no more rules arguments!
After Episode 70 of the Meeples & Miniatures podcast was published, I got some flak – people accused me of being a fanboy, or even of being financially motivated to give the game a good review. Well, I am a fanboy, because I REALLY like this game. OK, some of the models aren’t so great, and the software did have it’s odd glitch (and the graphics are not great in low-res) – but it’s fast, fun, and actually has great depth to it.
It seems that many people remain unconvinced.
So, I’m gutted with the news of the demise of Bastion. I am desperately hoping that some other investor can be found to not only support Ex Illis, but to continue what Bastion started and expand the game based on the fantastic background that has been created.
However, there is a part of me that looks back to what happened last year – to the demise of Rackham – and thinks that all my hopes are in vain, and Ex Illis will die a quiet death once the servers are turned off…
…and that makes me very sad indeed.