Great Big War Game developers fight back over unpaid royalties

Rubicon Development have today announced the relaunch of their critically acclaimed strategy title Great Big War Game on Steam – while at the same time airing their grievances over the game’s former publisher.

The title, whose original iOS version holds an impressive Metacritic rating of 86, was removed from the Steam store some time ago after the publisher stopped paying royalties to its developers. After legal discussions and some help from Valve, Rubicon are now selling the game directly via Steam themselves.

The indie studio’s co-founder, Paul Johnson, said: “We always wanted Great Big War Game on PC, but we didn’t think we could drive a Greenlight because our fanbase, reputation and what visibility we have came from the mobile crowd… Instead, we made overtures to some smaller publishers that the game was available, and a few got in contact.

“One publisher made a particularly good pitch, including a presence in Walmart, Target and Steam. While they did get us onto Steam, those big retailers never happened.

“From the Steam sales, we got two paychecks from the publisher over the next six months, which seemed very low ball compared to the volume of new players… and then we never heard from them again.”

Johnson noted that Valve have been extremely helpful in assisting the company with their troubles, but worried that the damage may already have been done.

“[GBWG] doesn’t qualify as a new title, so we’re not getting any of the usual release fanfare that all Steam titles get to kick them off. And, of course, the elephant in the room here is that anyone interested in buying the game probably already did by now, and paid someone else for it.

“The game initially shipped with some bugs… we fixed these diligently, but the publisher was slow in pushing the updates live, and the bugs attracted a lot of heat from customers. So we attracted ill-feeling too.”

It wasn’t all doom-and-gloom, though. Although Johnson sent out a clear message to fellow indie developers in “be careful what you wish for”, he expressed Rubicon’s pride at finally having their title available on Steam under their own banner: “A bizarre set of circumstances made that worth very little to us financially, but I still love that I can point to the Steam store and see our game sat there. It feels like we’ve grown up.”

Great Big War Game is available now, priced at £6.99.

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