Early in 2016 Xaviant started pushing their battle royale game The Culling into the public eye and it looked promising. Since mid last year, the game has seen many changes and one thing developers Zaviant probably didn’t realise would happen is the genre would really take off.
Frustratingly for Xaviant it wasn’t The Culling that captured gamers’ imagination, it was PUBG and then Fortnite. The Culling only left Early Access in October this year and player numbers never picked up on launch with them now down at double digits. In other words, it’s pretty much been abandoned.
With player numbers non-existant, Xaviant has called it a day on the game’s development although the servers will keep running for the time being. A full announcement covering the end of development was posted this evening.
It has been quite a journey. When we first began development on The Culling back in May of 2015, battle royale was barely a blip on the radar of most gamers, let alone the hottest new genre to hit the scene in nearly a decade. On day one, our plan was to build a standalone battle royale title from scratch. Our early designs took many of the ingredients found in survival games and reimagined them to fit a dedicated PvP arena.
Even our early internal play tests told us we had something special on our hands. While there were hundreds of great PvP games out there, The Culling exhibited a special intensity that immediately hooked us. The entire team played together daily, (there were only 16 of us at the time) not because it was strictly necessary for development, but also because it was just so much fun.
When we launched the game into Early Access in March of 2016, we were amazed by the response we got from players everywhere. The Culling struck a special chord not only with us as developers, but with players around the world. It was intense, it was scary, it was frantic, it was fun. Soon, hundreds of thousands of people headed to the island to kill or be killed. You shared your trials and triumphs with others using platforms like Twitch and YouTube. Seemingly overnight, The Culling was the hot new thing.
We knew that the game was far from finished, and we embraced Early Access as a means to continue development with input from a flourishing community. We learned a tremendous amount along the way. We got some things right and we made a number of missteps. We did it all under what felt like a very intense spotlight.
Over time, The Culling changed a lot. It got bigger. It ran faster. It looked prettier. It was balanced, unbalanced, and rebalanced time and time again. Bugs were fixed, new bugs were introduced. The community organized tournaments and we were wowed by the skill and strategy exhibited by the best players around the world. We focused on match pacing. We focused on balancing the metagame. We focused on melee combat mechanics. We experimented with features that did not go over well at all. We worked to find solutions that would appeal to hardcore players with a thousand hours under their belts and fresh faces alike.
In January of 2017 we shipped an update called “The Big House,” our biggest patch to date. With an all-new UI, a new map, an XP system, countless bug fixes and polish items, The Culling finally began to resemble a finished game. The release of the Xbox One version in June of 2017 marked two years of continuous development.
This past October, we brought The Culling out of Steam Early Access and Xbox Game Preview. Battle royale, the genre we helped to pioneer, is now a favorite of millions and we can’t help but feel a sense of pride for having been part of its birth.
After more than two years dedicated to making The Culling, it’s time to announce that Xaviant has begun work on a new title. Despite having grown our then tiny team into a slightly larger group of twenty developers, this means that our entire focus is now on our new project. There are no future updates planned for The Culling.
Have no fear contestants, The Culling’s servers will remain live for the foreseeable future, which means you can keep CHAS busy for as long as you like.
While we’re excited to be working on something new, it’s also bittersweet to be moving on. The Culling has been a wonderful experience for us and so much of that is thanks to our passionate community of players. We got to know a great many of you through various channels and we watched on the edge of our seats as you organized tournaments, streamed yourselves seeking glory, and assembled videos that told your stories.
No matter who you are or how much you participated in the game’s development over the last couple of years, I want to offer a sincere thank you on behalf of myself and the Xaviant team for being part of something special. We know we couldn’t have done it without you and we are eternally grateful.
You may be wondering what we have planned next. We certainly hope you’re at least a little curious. It’s too early to say much, but we’re trying to apply all of the lessons we learned (both good and bad) from The Culling to make something very special and just as dear to our hearts.