The Culling 2 is being closed, the original will be rebooted and free to play

The release of The Culling 2 did not go well. The all-time player count, as recorded by Steam Charts, was 249, but it almost immediately plummeted to single digits, and currently holds an average concurrent player count of just 6. (Chris won his first round after the only other player in the match went AFK.) Faced with that, and a powerful backlash from the existing Culling fan base, developer Xaviant has announced a dramatic change of direction: The game will be shuttered and removed from sale, and refunds will be issued to everyone. 

"One thing that has emerged very clearly for us is that The Culling 2 was not a game that you asked for, and it's not the game that you expect as a worthy successor to The Culling," director of operations Josh Van Veld said. "So with that in mind, we've decided that the best course of action is to take that game down off of store shelves." 

What's even more interesting is that instead of trying to fix it, Xaviant is restarting work on the original game as The Culling: Day One, a reboot coming later this week that will make it exactly as it was when it debuted on Steam Early Access in 2016.

"That means all the perks are coming back, all the airdrops are coming back, combat goes back to its day one form. Literally every aspect of the gameplay will be what you remember," Van Veld said. "That's going to be our platform moving forward." 

To help bolster the player base, The Culling will also be made free to play when the Day One update goes live. Van Veld didn't get into exactly now that will work, but said that more information will be released later this week. 

It's a bold move, as they say, and unexpected, and the response in the comments on YouTube are almost entirely positive. Whether that translates into a viable game is another matter entirely, but full credit to Xaviant for going all-in on the course correction. It's also interesting to note that, while the numbers are tiny for both games, The Culling remains far more popular than its sequel: There are at this moment 35 people playing The Culling, while The Culling 2 hit its peak today with two. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.