The founders of the game development studio behind one of VR’s pioneering platforming titles Lucky’s Tale announced a significant reduction in staff size this week.
Lucky’s Tale was one of the first projects publicly demonstrated on early Oculus VR headsets. Playful Corp, which became Playful Studios, embarked on a series of experiments with early Oculus hardware and ended up centering around a third-person platforming title.
A fox named Lucky became the main protagonist with the player essentially looking over his shoulder in VR as a kind of guardian while guiding him through colorful levels that looked great on early VR headsets. The game proved a well-loved gaming genre worked in VR and debuted as a free title delivered to buyers of the Oculus Rift headset when it first shipped in 2016. A sequel of sorts called Super Lucky’s Tale debuted later for traditional game systems including Xbox One and most recently the Nintendo Switch.
The studio also showed Star Child for PSVR headsets in 2017 (which was also said to offer a non-VR mode as well) and they had an experimental room-scale multiplayer playground called “Wonderland” which tested out various VR-specific game mechanics. In late 2018, it looked like Star Child was cancelled when people who pre-ordered the game received a message from the PlayStation Store stating “the publisher has notified us that the game is cancelled.” Co-founder Paul Bettner told us at the time the game was “definitely not” cancelled while saying the notification was triggered because they changed the internal launch date for the game.
I tried contacting co-founders Paul Bettner and Katy Drake Bettner this week for clarification on the game’s status after they released a statement saying Playful would “significantly reduce our full-time staff” and “evolve its approach to the development and production of our current and future projects. The studio will be pivoting to a more streamlined production model based on distributed game development and dynamic, project-based teams.”
I’ll update this post if they respond but, given the earlier notifications around the game and long period of silence surrounding it, we aren’t hopeful Star Child will see the light of day.