Legacy Quest: What went wrong?

Socialspiel’s Legacy Quest was possibly the best mobile game ever released. It was definitely the best Diablo-like. Released in 2015, Socialspiel had a quiet launch, rolling out to 20 countries at a time. With its cute, blocky aesthetic, it seemed perfectly poised to dominate. But when trying to open the app, it complains about losing connection to servers. As of August 2017, Socialspiel closed its doors for the last time. What went wrong?

The most lucrative games on mobile platforms are exploitative Slot games, shitty ad-ridden match 3 games, and the many many Clash of Clones. Down the list, waifu simulators like Fate: Grand Order begin to crop up. It’s clearly a platform dominated by less skill-dependent games that lean on paywalls and massive time investment to advance. A game needs at least a million downloads to break even. It would be a huge challenge to rise above the food of clones, idle-clickers, and waifu sims.

Touch screens don’t lend themselves well to complex inputs. Rather than having a wide-array of hotbar skills, Legacy Quest had just two active skill buttons. Rather than clicking, holding a tap would guide the character. It worked pretty well!

Socialspiel: Storied Developers, Financially Precarious
Helmut Hutterer and the motley crew of Rockstar Vienna veterans were always in a tight spot, financially. Their first projects in 2010 and 2011 brought modest revenue. Most of their operation was reliant on angel funding. Even so, it was a small studio. With big ambitions. Legacy Quest was only possible thanks to financing from Nexon. The survival of Socialspiel would rely on the success of Legacy Quest.

Born To Die
Legacy Quest’s launch could not have been worse. Launching in just 14 countries - and launching first in Canada instead of the larger US market - it barely garnered 50,000 downloads in its first week. 50,000 would be great for a solo indie dev selling a premium game. But as a free-to-start game, these numbers instantly spelled death.

Socialspiel dug in. Releasing a sequel in 2016, they hoped to turn the company’s fates around. But that flopped, too.

Legacy Quest shut down May 8, 2017.

@tinoesroho occasionally starts projects and never quite follows through. He can be found announcing project cancellations right here on the BBS. His sporadic column EscapeRoom, can be found here.


Having lived in a city that is often used for market testing (London ON – it had Chicken McNuggets months before anywhere else) this makes some sense, especially if you need to worry about things like ramping up server capacity.

Minecraft had a slow start, for example.

The trick is setting stakeholder expectations. If they expect gonzo sales and an instant giant fan base while at the same time not supporting marketing and infrastructure… then yeah, you’re hosed.