In a contrite, six-minute message full of hard truths to face, The Culling 2’s producer announced the battle royale game would be removed from online marketplaces following its disastrous launch last week. Those who bought it will have their purchases refunded.
Moreover, developers at Xaviant will rededicate themselves to the game’s predecessor, The Culling, whose development ended just two months after its full release last October.
“One thing that has emerged very clearly for us is The Culling 2 was not a game that you asked for,” said Josh Van Veld, also Xaviant’s director of operations, “and it’s not the game you expect as the worthy successor to The Culling.”
The Culling 2 launched July 10 on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. The Culling launched on PC and Xbox One only.
Numbers alone bear out the community’s rejection of The Culling 2. According to SteamCharts, its peak concurrent player base hit 249 shortly after launch — two days before Fortnite Battle Royale season five launched. There’s still only one player listed as playing the game right now.
But that only tells part of the story. Fans of The Culling were very disappointed when it came out of early access in October 2017 and got two whole months of support before Xaviant stopped development entirely and moved on to a sequel no one was asking for.
“I think that that’s an area that we owe you an apology,” Van Veld said. “Because when we thought back to day one of The Culling and how we handled that launch, we realized that we changed too much, too fast. I know there was something very unique and very special about that game that we were too eager to modify, to balance, to re-tune.
“And so we took a game that you guys loved and we changed it out from under you and I want to apologize for that,” Van Veld said.
In response, the day-one build of The Culling — which goes to its March 2016 release in early access — will be placed on test servers this week. Xaviant, meanwhile, will begin working on the full release version of The Culling to make sure it matches, as closely as possible, the features and combat of that original build.
“That means all the perks are coming back, all the air drops are coming back, combat goes back to its day one form, literally every aspect of the gameplay will be what you remember,” Van Veld promised. “And that’s what’s going to be our platform going forward.”
We didn’t review The Culling but did call its early access version “Smash TV meets The Hunger Games” when we played it back in March 2016. Van Veld noted that, based on player response to Xaviant’s choices (which alienated many in the player base), developers saw that there was “tremendous value in the day one build of The Culling.” However, “It’s been hard for us to accept that that’s something that we need to put the work into to get to you. But we’ve decided that it’s time.”
The first The Culling featured 16 players armed with rifles and melee weapons; The Culling 2 expanded the field to 50 and placed a bigger focus on ranged weapons. Fans accused developers of selling them out to push a Fortnite or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds rip-off.
As The Culling returns, and returns to its roots, Xaviant realizes it needs to grow the game’s audience as it makes amends with original players. To that end, The Culling will also go free-to-play once the update to the October build of the game is finished.
“One of the unexpected things that we learned over the course over the past week is how much love so many of you still have for The Culling, and the fact that so many of you were still holding out hope that we would give you what you were looking for,” Van Veld said. “And I think that, with this new day-one build, and this new focus on taking The Culling back to day one and starting on a fresh foot, in a free-to-play mode, I think we’re going to be able to give you what you’re looking for.”