Dark and Darker's demo version briefly became one of the biggest things on Steam (opens in new tab) during last month's Next Fest event, but the devs at Ironmace still have a lot of things to figure out. Chief among them? How the hell they're gonna make money off their very popular game.
In a recent Discord Q&A (opens in new tab) with a developer called SDF, we learned that Ironmace won't be able to keep Dark and Darker online with game sales alone, that its run out of space in its office, and that—despite all that—the studio doesn't really know how it's going to monetise the game when it finally releases.
When asked what its "plans for monetization features" were, SDF was only willing to commit to "A monetization model that players can understand," which isn't exactly rich on detail. Likewise, when a player asked if Dark and Darker would eventually "include anything like a battle pass or cosmetic shops," SDF could only tell them that "This is difficult to answer as it has not yet been fully decided".
Other players asked pretty much the same question and got the same answer, but the only thing SDF was really able to say was the following: Sales of the game on their own "can't cover the cost of running servers on an ongoing basis," meaning further monetisation will be necessary at some point, but Ironmace is firm that there will be "absolutely no [pay to win]".
SDF never says this directly, but it sounds a lot like Ironmace is struggling to navigate the demands of its business at the moment: Developing a game that's attracted a lot of attention very quickly while expanding the business behind it. SDF told one player that the studio was "still understaffed" despite the fact that there are "no more seats in the office" at the company's headquarters, and staff have been forced to move their desks closer together.
In fact, SDF wasn't even able to say how much Dark and Darker will sell for when it finally releases, but did comment that they "don't like it when people who buy a game first lose the value of their purchase due to excessive discount rates in the future," which sounds to me like a roundabout way of telling players not to expect any swingeing Steam sales. At some point soon, though, Ironmace is going to have to move beyond the kind of monetisation it won't have and figure out what it will.
On top of all this, Dark and Darker still faces allegations it copied assets and code (opens in new tab) from a cancelled Nexon project called P3, though Ironmace's CEO denies it. Perhaps things will have calmed down for the studio by the time of next month's playtest (opens in new tab), which is scheduled to run from April 14 to 19 and will feature some "pretty substantial additions".