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Hand of Fate studio Defiant Development ends work on new games

Company embarked on ‘a risky way to make games,’ founder says

Screenshot showing Hand of Fate 2 has dealt the player the Brimstone Card
Hand of Fate 2
Defiant Development
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

The maker of the Hand of Fate deck-building/action series is “ceasing development of new titles,” saying that its approach to making games, which sustained a nine-year run, hasn’t been adaptable to a fast and ever-changing industry.

Defiant Development began in 2010 as an effort to make “a studio model in Australia that would thrive without being dependent on international ownership,” studio founder Morgan Jaffitt wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “We set out without knowing where the journey will take us, and we do so knowing that the unknown is not always safe. That is a risky way to make games, and we knew that.”

Defiant came along at a time when Australia’s most conspicuous console-developing studios were either owned or had projects funded by publishers elsewhere. THQ Studio Australia was shut down in 2011 before the rest of the company went bankrupt; Team Bondi delivered the highly visible L.A. Noire that year and immediately closed. Halfbrick, a studio that had worked on licensed video games for consoles, shifted to mobile devices around that time following the success of Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride.

Hand of Fate came along in 2015 for PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One, and was one of the first Australian-made games successfully launched after a Kickstarter campaign. That was followed by Hand of Fate 2 on the same platforms in 2017, adding Nintendo Switch in 2018.

“The games market has changed in ways both big and small in the nine years we’ve been in business,” Jaffitt wrote. “We have not been able to change quickly enough to continue with them.”

Jaffitt closed his remarks by linking to a video of A World in My Attic, the incomplete game the studio had been working on at the time of yesterday’s announcement.

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