The Sun Sets on Moonrise

Hello Moonrise fans,

As you know, Moonrise has been in beta on Steam in the Early Access channel for the past few months. At the same time, the iOS version of the game has been available in limited release, in countries including Australia and Canada. During this beta period we’ve been gathering data on how people play the game. The free-to-play model, and the mobile market, are new territory for Undead Labs, so we’ve been paying close attention to these numbers to make sure we’re making a game people are excited to play, and also a game that we can operate profitably and sustainably with the level of support you expect.

What we’ve found is that while some people really love Moonrise, there were unfortunately many more people who played the game and then moved on after a few days. For a standalone, offline game that might be fine; but for an online game with significant server hosting costs and an expectation for ongoing development and new content, it can mean a game that not only doesn’t pay for it’s development costs, but might even cost money to operate. As you can imagine, that’s not something that makes sense for an independent studio like Undead Labs, nor for that matter would it be a good business decision even for a large publisher.

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Year 2 Recollections

Hello fellow survivors,

On this very day two years ago, several hundred thousand of you took a chance and bought a little Xbox Live Arcade game named State of Decay. You had no idea who made it, or what it was all about, but you clearly loved survival-fantasy games and had a true gamer’s appetite for innovation and new gaming experiences. You may not have known that most of the development team behind the game — the artists, programmers, designers, musicians, animators, testers, and producers at Undead Labs — had been awake all night, waiting to see how you would react to a game that didn’t follow any established templates, and even broke fundamental design rules with mechanics like permadeath.

And, much to our joy (and, yeah, relief), the vast majority of you loved it. And told your friends. And streamed it on Twitch. And posted videos to YouTube. And tweeted about it. And over the next few months, State of Decay became the fastest-selling original* game of all time on Xbox Live Arcade, and went on to sell millions of copies on Xbox 360, Steam, and Xbox One.

And you know, two years later on, as we work on Big Things for the future of State of Decay, it’s a good time for all of us at Undead Labs and Microsoft to take a deep breath and reflect on exactly why we’re here, and why we have the opportunity to work on Big Things. I know it’s cliche to thank your customers, and sometimes it’s kind of like your mom saying “I love you” — she probably says it every day and you kind of start taking it for granted. But man, she means it from her heart. And so do we. Thank you for getting us here. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to keep working on Big Things. And thank you for being the kind of gamers who will take a chance on innovation.


June 5, 2015

* Curse you Minecraft! 😉

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State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition

Hell yes, we’re making State of Decay for Xbox One!

Man, it felt good to write that. There’s a huge difference between “We think it’s a good idea and we’re seriously considering it”, and “Hell yes, we’re working hard on it right now.” It’s generally a good idea to wait until you can say “hell yes”, because until then, Things Can Change, but we’ve crossed that threshold for State of Decay on Xbox One.

State of Decay is coming to Xbox One via the State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition. While we’re still very much in development, here’s what I can tell you today.

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Today it’s my great pleasure to announce our new game, Moonrise.

Moonrise is a multiplayer creature-collection RPG for mobile devices, conceived and developed here at the Lab and published by Kabam. It’s a fun romp through a gorgeous 3D world of ancient ruins and magical creatures, with deep, real-time strategic combat, full character and creature customization, and real-time online play with your friends.

You can read more about Moonrise and our partnership with Kabam in the Moonrise announcement press release, and at the game website at We’ll also be showing the beta build of Moonrise off at PAX Prime in Seattle at the end of this month, so look for more information about the game and release details then.

Like everyone at the Lab, I’m intensely excited about Moonrise. It’s a game that embodies the same passion and spirit we poured into our first game, State of Decay. But alongside that excitement, I’m also very aware that this is a surprise to everyone who has been following the Lab for the last few years. What does it mean for us to be releasing a game that isn’t State of Decay?

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Let’s Chat

In the fall of 2009 I went on a zombie bender. Zombieland had just been released, and I saw it four times. It wasn’t the best zombie flick I’d ever seen, but I loved the road-trip aspect of it, and the focus on how each person needs to decide whether they’ll work together, or alone, in the apocalypse. Mostly, it just rekindled my love of the zombie-survival genre, so it was back to Day, Dawn (classic, and the 2004 remake, which was a damn fine movie), the 28s, a ton of obscure hipster zombie stuff, and a fantastic dive into the Walking Dead comics. And books, too. Brooks of course — more the Guide than WWZ.

Fun stuff for sure, but none of it was really scratching my survival-fantasy itch. The great thing about zombie books and movies is that they make you think about what you’d do if the apocalypse hit tomorrow. Hanging out with your friends and comparing survival plans is truly one of life’s great pleasures.

But then a friend (known around here as Brant) turned me on to the Day by Day Armageddon series by J.L. Bourne. The author was an active duty military officer, and it really showed in his work. The story was personal and gripping, but also logical and well structured. It was believable. It was impossible not to cast myself in the role of the narrator, relying on my wits and whatever equipment I could find to survive every day. I consumed it in a day, read it again, then read the sequel.

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