The developer of the upcoming survival title The Day Before relies on unpaid workers to complete the game.
Update, June 29: Fntastic, developer of The Day Before, has issued a statement about their efforts of volunteers in response to reports last week. To talk with EurogamerFntastic first defined volunteer from Latin for… some reason… then said “we have over 100 full-time in-house volunteers (employees)) from Singapore, Russia, Netherlands, Thailand, Ukraine, Finland, Kazakhstan and Belarus who work as engineers, artists, HR professionals, etc.”
For some reason, the amalgamation of paid and unpaid workers continues, but the statement goes on to say that 40 — so about 30% of the workforce at play — are “external volunteers” who have unpaid localization, QA- and community support staff. Fntastic goes so far as to say that paid translation work was “not quite as perfect” and that their “enthusiastic volunteers (supporters)” fared better.
This in itself isn’t as uncommon as you might want to believe – how many games have Discords managed or even created entirely by community moderators, or fan patches with translations to new languages or cross-platform support? — but presenting it so publicly as a point of pride is much rarer. Fntastic points out that it has hired at least one of these outside volunteers as a salaried employee in the recent past, and also promises that it will do so again soon.
The vibe of the statement, the website, the video originally referenced, and the whole ordeal is definitely over. We’ll keep updating as we learn more.
Original story, June 27: The Day Before came out of nowhere and went viral thanks to a short gameplay demonstration. The images shown so far seem like a mix of Ubisoft’s The Division and Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us – a zombie survival game where other players are just as dangerous as the flesh-eating hordes. It is the Most Wanted Game on Steamwith over 100,000 additions to their must-play stack.
open world. survival. Triple-A production values. The Day Before is an ambitious developer project that most people have never heard of. All the “gameplay” videos released to date are heavily scripted.
It’s the video game equivalent of one of those viral videos where someone throws a basketball from the right across the court to the back and lands through the hoop. You know it was staged. You know it’s smoke and mirrors and it probably took 1000 tries to get the images. But people still share it like it’s real.
It comes from Fntastic, an unproven developer who has made games like the Dead by Daylight clone Propnight.
According to the developer’s own website, the game was built by an army of unpaid volunteers.
“Fntastic’s culture is based on the idea of volunteering,” the website proudly says. “This means that every Fntastic member is a volunteer.”
But some animals are more equal than others.
“There are two types of volunteers at Fntastic: full-time and part-time,” the site says. “Full-time volunteers work for salaries, and their numbers are limited. †
If you click on the link to apply for a paid job, there are currently no positions available. However, you can sign up as a part-time volunteer to get “cool rewards, participation certificates and free codes”.
These unpaid workers do everything from translation to community moderation. You can also offer your “unique skills to improve our projects or create new special features”.
In a video on the website, the company gives a sales pitch why you should work for free.
“Whatever you do in life, you do it voluntarily or involuntarily,” the video reads. “If you do it voluntarily, it becomes heaven. If you do it unintentionally, it will be hell. Fntastic culture is based on the idea of volunteering. Being a volunteer means volunteering for a common cause.”
The other person in the video – who has so far laughed into the camera – says: “The idea of volunteering comes from our own experiences and aspirations. In other words: becoming someone who says ‘yes’ to life. Volunteering means that you bring a certain conviviality to every action you take.”
The Day Before will be released in 2023. It was recently delayed so the game could be migrated to Unreal Engine 5.
Written by Ben Barrett & Kirk McKeand on behalf of GLHF†