Overkill’s The Walking Dead flop was expected, says developer

The Walking Dead came out last November and did not make a good impression. Despite being from the team behind the popular co-op shooter PayDay 2, and based on the still-popular The Walking Dead, the game fell massively short of sales targets and failed so hard publisher Starbreeze was forced into administration. Now one developer claims that the Overkill’s The Walking Dead flop was expected, and the team “knew it was going to tank.”

In an in-depth feature looking into the fall of Starbreeze published on Eurogamer, they interviewed a number of developers who worked on Overkill’s The Walking Dead and wished to remain anonymous. They described the torturous development of the game, which included crunch throughout most of 2018, and a forced engine change that caused the game to be essentially completely remade several years into production. One developer said the reason that the final game feels unfinished, like a beta, is “because it is. It’s a beta game because we made it in a year-and-a-half.”

Another developer stated that “everyone knew it was going to tank… No matter how much you polish a turd, it’s still a turd. It was never going to get any better than where it was. It was always hacked.” They also said that “there wasn’t much hope for most people, and what little hope there was was dead by the end of it.”

It was the flop of the 2012 Syndicate shooter for EA, combined with the loss of most of the team to MachineGames to work on Wolfenstein: The New Order, that started Starbreeze’s troubles, and PayDay developer Overkill essentially took over the studio. A lot of hopes were placed on Overkill’s The Walking Dead to do well and revive the studio’s fortunes, but that failed to happen. This has led to Starbreeze entering reconstruction, which essentially meant the company was being taken apart. Time will tell if this will allow Starbreeze to salvage the situation.