A new documentary from German games sites Game Two and GameStar has shed some more light on the disastrous development of The Day Before, and boy howdy, it’s worse than you thought. Game Two says it spoke to 16 former Fntastic employees, one of its former “volunteers,” and seven staff from The Day Before’s publisher Mytona. The picture they paint is, well, staggering.
Speaking anonymously, Game Two’s sources allege that working at Fntastic—The Day Before’s now-defunct development studio—was pure, megalomaniacal chaos. As they tell it, the game’s development was constantly buffeted by the changing whims of the Gotovtsev brothers, the studio’s founders, and the scope and style of the game would change whenever one of them got their hands on whatever the big game of the month was.
Sources allege that the game’s character creator had to be overhauled multiple times to keep up with GTA Online, then Hogwarts Legacy, then Baldur’s Gate 3. While the game’s setting—a smoky, oppressive city—had to be dramatically altered to become brighter and friendlier after one of the brothers played Spider-Man 2. One former dev said they only learned the game was supposed to be an MMO when they saw a trailer for it.
But that pales in comparison to reports about how the game’s staff were treated. Fntastic has already drawn criticism for its use of volunteer workers on its projects, but some of the details alleged by former staff are mind-boggling. Fntastic is said to have made use of a great deal of young, inexperienced labour drawn from its home base of Yakutsk as well other countries in the former USSR, like Kazakhstan and Armenia. Workers, in other words, with no other options. Sources say that there was a great deal of “voluntary” unpaid overtime and months of crunch—one says they “found myself begging for a few hours’ break just to find time for a shower or a meal—but that’s not all.
One claim, backed up by several of Game Two’s sources, says that employees were made to pay fines to the company for turning in substandard work, with some reportedly forced to pay $1,930 for poor-quality voice recordings. Others were kept on their toes by a company policy of spontaneous termination: one of The Day Before’s five testers was apparently fired from the company just before release after one of the Gotovtsevs encountered a bug.
As for the Gotovstevs themselves, it seems no one quite knows where they’ve ended up in the aftermath of Fntastic’s closure. The pair went AWOL around the game’s launch—a fact that several staff attribute to foreknowledge that the game was in a dire state—and only reappeared to shutter the studio via Microsoft Teams. Several of Game Two’s sources believe the pair have started from scratch at a new studio making mobile games, but it remains unclear which one, if that’s even the case.
The Day Before was one of last year’s most utterly chaotic launches, managing as it did to build anticipation (and get a huge number of pre-orders) on the back of footage and promises that we now know were hiding the true state of the game. Before launch the game faced severe delays after a baffling argument with a calendar app, and didn’t do much to assuage anyone’s fears when its first gameplay demo looked almost determinedly generic.
When it launched, it met predictable mockery and scorn, only for Fntastic to close its doors four days later. The game itself has now been extracted from existence. The remains of the studio’s management have since blamed its poor performance on a “hate campaign” by “bloggers.”
If that sounds astonishing, you haven’t heard the half of it. It’s well worth going and checking out Game Two’s documentary in full over on YouTube (it’s in German, but has English subtitles) to get a full picture of just how messy and chaotic last year’s messiest, chaotic game really was.