It's been a super-weird ride for The Day Before (opens in new tab), the open world zombie survival game being developed by Propnight studio Fntastic. The hype was incredible—it was the second-most-wishlisted game on Steam, behind only Hogwarts Legacy, despite virtually nothing being known about it—but just days before Fntastic was due to finally show off the first raw gameplay in two years, The Day Before was completely removed from Steam.
In a statement (opens in new tab) released on January 25, Fntastic said the removal was the result of a trademark claim against the title, which it only found out about on January 19. Because of the dispute, the planned gameplay reveal was put on hold, and the release date was pushed back from March 1 to November 10.
In a new interview with IGN (opens in new tab), however, Fntastic founders Eduard and Aisen Gotovtsev said the delay was actually planned before the trademark dispute came to light.
"We planned to move the game's release before and plan to announce it with [publisher] Mytona in a 10-minute gameplay video," they said. "And then you all know what happened. So to be on the safe side, to ensure there are no more transfers, we, along with the publisher, chose November 10. That is a safe date, given the trademark dispute."
The Gotovtsevs also acknowledged accusations from followers that The Day Before doesn't actually exist, or is a scam of some sort, saying "it is unpleasant to hear such accusations."
"We didn't take a penny from people: no crowdfunding, no pre-orders, no donations," they said. "The game is fully funded by Mytona, one of the largest mobile publishers in the world, who checked the game's build at every milestone per our contract."
That really encapsulates what I find mystifying about the whole thing. Fntastic and Mytona are both established game companies, and The Day Before was available for wishlisting on Steam but never actually up for pre-purchase—no Steam user money has changed hands. From that perspective, all of this seems like a fairly straightforward case of a developer grossly underestimating the time required to finish and launch a game, and delaying appropriately. So why attribute it to a trademark dispute? And why initially blame The Day Before's removal from Steam on "a known bug that has affected multiple titles in the past," and that would be corrected as part of Steam's regular maintenance. That rather glaring discrepancy isn't addressed in the IGN interview.
It's possible that Fntastic is simply struggling to keep up with what's going on, and that the "volunteers (opens in new tab)" it employs aren't fully in the loop. But as staff writer Morgan Park said in his in-depth analysis (opens in new tab) of The Day Before mystery, there are some legitimate red flags flying, particularly relating to the fact that we know virtually nothing about the game.
"The Day Before's official Discord has a 'Commonly Asked Questions' section that isn't very good at answering questions," he wrote. "Basic questions like 'Will there be quests?' and 'Are there other types of vehicles' are all yet to be determined." And this was from when the game was still slated for a March 1 release.
Fntastic said on Twitter that it will share the promised Day Before gameplay footage after it gets the green light from lawyers. That also seems a bit odd to me in the case of a simple trademark dispute, but I am not a lawyer and maybe that sort of caution is called for. Regardless, I'm looking forward to seeing it—and hoping we get to see it soon.(opens in new tab)