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How The Day Before Became the Biggest Video Game Scam in Years

A documentary reveals the behind-the-scenes development of The Day Before, the survival game that caused controversy when the Fntastic studio closed last January.

This is probably the biggest video game scam of recent years: after years of keeping expectations alive, The Day Before has finished its run just a few days after its release on Steam.

Between trailers with false promises, media-fueled buzz, and even Nvidia, the now-closed post-apocalyptic MMO from the now-closed Fntastic studio is now history.

Now, new information is giving us a clearer picture of The Day Before case. A documentary jointly produced by two German media outlets, Game Two and GameStar, aims to understand how such a fiasco could have happened by probing the history of the studio and interviewing some of its employees.

A game that didn’t exist
According to sources from both media outlets, the game simply didn’t exist when it was announced in 2021 and was only in the early prototype stage.

While it is customary to show in video what is called a vertical slice, i.e. a gameplay sequence showing the different systems and mechanics of a game, it is usually taken from a game in development.

The first trailer for The Day Before, the one that put the game on the radar of millions of players, was based on another build of the game, developed especially for the occasion, but completely unplayable and riddled with bugs. The game featured in this trailer simply didn’t exist.

Constant changes of course
In its early days, The Day Before was supposed to be a small survival game set in a snowy environment with cartoon-style graphics, probably more in the vein of Overwatch or Fortnite. But eager to make a name for themselves in an ultra-competitive market, the Gotovtsev brothers, founders of the studio, decided to change course completely:

We decided to raise our standards. We thought we needed a makeover, that’s why we started developing triple-A games.

The game would have completely changed the scale and therefore ambition, adopting a more photorealistic style, close to the big productions from which it is inspired (The Division, The Last of Us, Call of Duty, and many others).

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These inspirations would have greatly influenced the development of the game. Several sources mention the character creation module, which has undergone several redesigns to be inspired by GTA Online, Hogwart’s Legacy, and finally Baldur’s Gate III. While The Day Before was supposed to take place in a more oppressive urban setting, the game adopted a brighter, “friendly” aesthetic when one of the Gotovtsev brothers started playing Spider-Man 2.

Further proof of the inconstancy of the studio’s management, who basically wanted to replicate the success of these titles. Even worse, employees reportedly found out that the game was an MMO when one of its trailers was released.

‘Voluntary’ work and sanctioned employees
But it’s when we look at the working conditions of Fntastic’s employees that things get worse. Several sources mention the involvement of many employees working on a voluntary basis, from Russia or other Eastern countries, in crunch phases that lasted for months. Some employees even reportedly “begged for a break of a few hours.”

The management even started to charge fines for “unsatisfactory work”, while one of the sources of the documentary speaks of an amount of $1,930 for a dubbing deemed to be of poor quality.

The picture painted is obviously catastrophic, especially since the Gotovtsev brothers went radio silent during the launch of the game, only to reappear long enough to close the studio via a call on Microsoft Teams to their employees.

The Day Before story tells the story of a studio and its employees who have suffered from the growing ambition of their executives, but also from a game that has managed to fool everyone for many years. Enough to inoculate against the excessive hype that accompanies the announcement of certain games.

 

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How The Day Before Became the Biggest Video Game Scam in Years
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