Remember Spintires? It's the extraordinarily Russian off-road driving sim that earned attention for both its unique subject material (and accurate rendition thereof) and the ugly conflict between creator Pavel Zagrebelnyj and UK-based publisher Oovee. Those problems appeared to be ironed out early last year, but last week Zagrebelnyj told Eurogamer that the publisher owes him “a shitload of money,” but that there hasn't been any real communication between the parties for the better part of a year.
Coincidentally or not, Spintires was very recently struck by a rash of seemingly out-of-nowhere bugs that have caused it to crash or malfunction in various ways. And according to this post on Reddit, it's actually Zagrebelnyj's doing: It alleges that he's inserted “time bombs” into the game code that are responsible for the troubles. There have been four of them so far, each eventually fixed—unofficially—by a user.
Oovees, however, denied what it called “press speculation” about the game being intentionally sabotaged. “The situation on the bug is that we became aware of a major bug last week that caused the game to stop for some users. We have been working on this with Pavel since it came up. Progress on the next planned update has been suspended while we sort the bug issue,” it wrote on its forums. “We believe we have now identified the problem and are now testing at this very moment a hot fix provided by Pavel, who is also ready to help further if needed. We're fully focused now on making the game work properly again, so please allow us to get this sorted first and we'll then be able to explain what has caused this and then carry on with future updates we have planned.”
Despite the apparent imminence of a fix, however, Oovee has suspended sales of Spintires on Steam. It's still listed, but there's currently no option to purchase it, or even follow or add it to a wishlist. I'm not a coder, but that seems like a rather extreme step to take in the process of fixing a conventional bug—and I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but the sudden appearance of crippling bugs nearly two years after a game's release seems a little hinky, too.
I've reached out to Zagrebelnyj and Oovees for clarification, and I'll update when I learn more.