Desura is in Hot Water

Yesterday the news started to come out that Desura has not been paying some of the developers on their storefront. This is kind of a big deal. I’d wager that most of the devs on Desura—myself included—aren’t making enough on their games alone to pay the bills or put food on the table. But money is still money, and developers deserve to get paid for the work they’ve put into the games they’ve made.

A stylized dollar bill.

The almighty dollar.

One of the developers that Desura happens to owe money to is Vision Riders. Another Star crossed Desura’s $500 payout threshold during the Indie Royale Debut 100 Bundle. (For those not aware, Indie Royale and Desura, while not technically the same operation, are interconnected.) The money should have gone into the company’s account sometime around December or January, but this didn’t happen. It always gave the same “payment pending” status on my Desura developer’s account page.

By March I realized the issue wasn’t going to fix itself and contacted Desura directly, explaining what was happening and asking if they needed anything from me to get the payment to go through. Their support was friendly and courteous, responding to my email within hours and letting me know that they would ask the accounting department for a status update. I did not hear anything back.

I tend to be an exceptionally patient person, and I always hate bothering people. A few years ago when I was in the hospital recovering from an emergency appendectomy, I would even hesitate buzzing the nurses when I needed help because I didn’t want to trouble them. March and April were a bit hectic anyway with other things going on and so, even with money on the line, I waited months for an answer that never came.

Worried that the reply had ended up in my spam mail box and that I had somehow missed it, a week ago I finally got around to contacting them again. Once more, Desura’s support got back to me in just a few hours and kindly said they would speak with accounting. It wasn’t until this morning that I noticed the buzz on Twitter about what was going on at Desura.

For its part, Desura has acknowledged that this is happening, and says it will work to fix the problem as soon as possible. However, at no time in Desura’s communication with me was a problem ever mentioned by support. It’s hard not to feel slighted by being ignored like this. Threads on Reddit and elsewhere confirm that this has been going on since at least December. Some have had their issue resolved since then. I and others have not. I may not be able to live off the little sum that I’m owed, but it’s still money that’s not going into helping the company stay afloat and allowing me to release more games. Because of my contract, I don’t believe I can say exactly how much is due to me, but I will say that it is over half the total sales for Another Star across all retailers.

In November, shortly after Bad Juju acquired Desura from Linden Lab, I wrote my thoughts on the change of hands:

I can’t say I’m exactly “hopeful” about the sale, but I am trying to be optimistic. Desura has needed some serious care and attention to make it relevant again, especially with up-and-coming storefronts like that are doing a much better job meeting the needs of indie developers.

When I started working on Another Star, Desura was still pretty much the only game in town as far as indie storefronts went. Steam was even more of a virtual Berlin Wall at the time, was only just getting off the ground and hadn’t picked up any traction yet, and Humble Store was… well, Humble Store (but more on that another day, if I must). It just made sense to put the game on Desura. Now times are changing and the number of indie-centric storefronts have exploded in number. A fair number of them are even pretty stable.

I would still like to see Desura get itself together under Bad Juju, but at this point I’m starting to wonder if it makes sense for developers to pursue them anymore. Only time will tell.

UPDATE (25th May): As I noted on Twitter, and as some of you may have already noticed, the link to Desura on Another Star’s “buy now” page has been removed. It will remain that way until further notice.

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