Company layoffs and studio closures are an unfortunate reality for a competitive field like the video game industry; they can happen to anyone, from small subsidiary companies to high-profile creators like the recently defunct Telltale Games. One month into the new year, and unfortunately, another termination has been revealed. In a post on Medium, Robin Hjelte, the head developer of indie game studio Forgotten Key, announced that it is preparing for a shutdown, an ending to 7 years of work.
Forgotten Key has one game in its repertoire, a well-received puzzle-platformer called AER: Memories of Old that is known for its creative overworld flight mechanics, as well as its minimalistic, low-poly design and art style. According to Hjelte, the company’s last few years revolved around “finalizing and releasing AER Memories of Old, including porting and patching.” At the same time, the small studio aimed to work on its next project, but ultimately proved to be unsustainable in the long run.
In the post, Hjelte expressed gratitude towards the players and everyone involved with the production of the game. While he doesn’t explicitly state the reasons behind the company’s failures, citing possible answers that are “many and nuanced”, he does point out a couple of core issues that the studio was not able to overcome. “One answer is probably the markets development, another personal misjudging of priorities,” Hjelte said. “And a third the inherent problem between making business out of creativity and art.”
As a sort of parting gift, Forgotten Key is releasing to the public (via itch.io) playable demos and materials that were not known up until this point. The first is Down the Well, “an underground adventure inspired by Scandinavian folklore.” The second is an adventure title called Vind the utilizes the flight mechanic that made AER special, with narrative and exploration at its core.
Hjelte finishes the post by providing a list of all of the studio’s developers as well as their social media links, in hopes of finding new homes for its talented employees.