the complete story of Fntastic and The Day Before (So far) – WGB, Home of AWESOME Reviews

2023 has played host to some of the biggest game releases in years, providing us with a wealth of fantastic stuff to play. And yet, it has also played host to one of the biggest and most dramatic launches in history. I am, of course, talking about The Day Before, once the most wishlisted game on Steam. Developed by Fntastic and funded by Mytona, The Day Before has been on a multi-year journey filled with peaks, troughs and discussions about whether the game was even real. On December 7th it finally launched on Steam, becoming one of the worst-reviewed game’s in the platform’s history, and just four days later on December 11 developer Fntastic shut down.

What a rollercoaster ride. From an outside perspective, it was a crazy story of a financial failure, but as soon as you delve deeper into the sordid tale of Fntastic and The Day Before it goes from crazy to insane. The exact details of what happened are still being discovered and the whole situation will probably continue to be examined for months and even years to come. For now though, join me as I attempt to piece together the tale of one of gaming’s most epic train wrecks. In this lengthy read, we’re going to cover how Fntastic are, how The Day Before go so much hype, the financial madness behind the scenes and the chaotic days following the game’s release.

Buckle up kids.

  1. The Day Before debuts in a big way
  2. Who are Fntastic?
  3. The Day Before goes quiet, and then gets delayed
  4. Fntastic is just volunteers?
  5. What the hell is Continent?
  6. Fntastic didn’t trademark The Day Before
  7. Gameplay! And plagiarism!
  8. A month until launch, and The Day Before was still MIA
  9. The day before The Day Before
  10. The Day Before finally releases onto Steam. People wish it hadn’t.
  11. The 3 day collapse
  12. Day 4
  13. Fntastic’s financials
  14. Oh look, IGN reviewed it
  15. One final shot from Fntastic
  16. So, was The Day Before a scam?

The Day Before debuts in a big way

A massive part of The Day Before’s rise to become the most wishlisted game on Steam was how it was announced to the world. It didn’t just pop up on Youtube one day with a press release like the majority of games do, instead The Day Before’s debut trailer appeared on none other than IGN’s official Youtube channel. Whether you like it, hate it or are indifferent to its existence, IGN remains one of the biggest names in videogame coverage and with it comes a level of trust and prestige. To get your debut trailer featured on IGN is special, instantly making people feel like The Day Before must be something worth paying attention to. And pay attention they did – the announcement trailer has garnered 2.5 million views on IGN’s channel.

The trailer certainly did its job of making The Day Before seem like the next big thing. It showed off a visually impressive open-world MMO where zombies and other players were roaming a devastated city. The Christmas theming meant the wet streets were illuminated by decorative lights, snow was gently falling from the sky and everything the trailer showed was rich in detail. From the get-go it looked an awful lot like Ubisoft’s The Division, a comparison that was instantly made in the comments. Charitably, you could say it looked like it took a lot of inspiration from Ubisoft’s looter-shooter, and uncharitably you could call it a blatant rip-off with some zombies thrown in for good measure.

Regardless, The Day Before instantly gained a lot of traction among people who were excited by the prospect of an open-world MMO survival game. Though the comments were full of people exclaiming that it couldn’t possibly look this good and would surely be downgraded by launch, it didn’t stop the game from hurtling up Steam’s list of most wish-listed games like a rocket strapped to another, bigger rocket which was, in turn, strapped to the back of Wile E. Coyote.

Fntastic followed up a little while later by putting out a gameplay trailer, again featured by IGN and thus instantly giving it an audience. This new trailer was even more impressive than the first, this time taking the action of out the city and into the countryside. Again, it looked amazing, but new features were also shown off like drivable vehicles, vehicle repairs and weapon customisation. They weren’t done, either, because shortly after that a release date trailer dropped, this time showing off stuff like base building and social hubs. If all of this was true, Fntastic seemed to be promising the biggest, most feature-packed survival-MMO ever, and according to their trailer it was going to launch in June of 2022.

The red flags were already sprouting like a forest, though. The Day Before had come out of nowhere to be featured on IGN, looked gorgeous and seemed to be promising an awful lot. The only sensible answer is that it must be from an elite team of experienced developers backed by substantial chunk of cash because the debut trailer showed a game rivalling triple-A production quality and scope.

Nope. Not even close. Developer Fntastic was (we’ll get to that) a team founded by Eduard and Aisen Gotovtsev, brothers from Yakutia, Russia. The company’s portfolio was just four games, all of them very small projects that weren’t even close to being of the scale and quality that The Day Before seemed to be aiming for. Oh, and two of the games were abandoned by Fntastic without ever leaving Early Access, one of them was tiny and only the very last one did well.

Who are Fntastic?

Eduard and Aisen Gotovtsev, the founders of Fntastic

Fntastic’s biggest and arguably most successful game prior to The Day Before was The Wild Eight, a top-down survival game with some co-op elements. With some $50,000 from crowdfunding in 2016 and support from publisher Hypetrain, Fntastic released The Wild Eight onto Steam Early Access in February 2017. However, just nine months after putting the game out, Fntastic announced it was ceasing all development and had sold the rights to publisher Hypetrain. People were understandably confused, and the only information available cited some sort of internal conflict regarding The Wild Eight.

Since the drama around Fntastic’s closure, there was a wave of negative reviews posted for The Wild Eight which took aim at Fntastic, despite the fact that they no longer had anything to do with it. Hypetrain made the decision to change the name of the developer of The Wild Eight to Eight Points in an effort to curb the negative reviews but this plan backfired and has resulted in people thinking that Fntastic changed its name in order to continue operating.

As for Fntastic, they moved on to a slightly larger project titled Dead Dozen, which they released in March 2018. Described as a co-op horror game, the premise was that up to four people had to escape from a mysterious pyramid in Siberia, battling ghouls as they went. There was also a competitive multiplayer element for up to 12 players with one player per round taking command of the ghouls.

After just a month in Early Access, Fntastic mentioned in its premium Discord that it had run out of funds and was halting development. This is eerily familiar given that The Day Before launched and then Fntastic declared they were out of funds just days later, but lets not get ahead of ourselves.

18 months after Dead Dozen went into Early Access it was delisted from Steam. Fntastic were not building a very impressive reputation for themselves, but because they were a small company with almost no media coverage, nobody took much notice.

Next up was a tiny game by the name of Radiant One, also released in 2018. Unlike the Dead Dozen, Its can still be bought and costs under £1 on Steam, and to this day is Fntastic’s highest-rated game, holding a Mostly Positive rating on Steam from 171 reviews.

Fntastic moved on yet again, seemingly undeterred by the fact that their only full release so far was a tiny game. For their next project they somehow managed to get a publisher onboard by the name of Mytona which had, up until that point, only put out mobile titles. Fntastic and Mytona announced a partnership creatively called Mytona Fntastic and the result was a game called Propnight, released in December of 2021.

At this point, I want to note that there have been some theories floating around about Mytona somehow being more heavily involved with Fntastic. Much of this stems from both being from the same area of Russia and both being founded by brothers. Though there are certainly some odd details, there’s nothing concrete to go on. We’ll come back to Mytona later, though.

Although Propnight never managed to escape the Mixed rating purgatory, the horror hide-and-seek game did quite well by the low standards of Fntastic, even managing a peak player count of just under 7,000. Perhaps the most surprising part of Propnight is that Fntastic continued to support it, putting out patch 5.5.1 in May of this year. It even got new maps and other features, a downright impressive feat for a company that had thus far abandoned its two biggest projects to date.

Unfortunately, it’s unclear what Propnight’s future is. The servers went down just one day before The Day Before was launched, sparking a debate that Fntastic had deliberately pulled them down, but they do seem to be back up and Propnight remains playable and purchasable. Now that Fntastic is closing, though, it’s unclear as to whether publisher Mytona will pick up the server costs to keep the game going.

The Day Before goes quiet, and then gets delayed

At this point, things are looking good for developer Fntastic and returning publisher Mytona, who were presumably pretty happy with Propnight and willing to give Fntastic a bigger budget to work on The Day Before. The first few trailers for The Day Before had managed to grab a lot of mainstream attention and nobody was paying too much attention to small group of naysayers who already had their suspicions that The Day Before was too good to be true.

However, this is where things start to go off the rails. Fntastic goes radio-silent after the release date trailer – there are no new trailers, no betas, no demos, nothing. Zilch. And then with just one month to go until launch, Fntastic pops up to announce that The Day Before has been delayed until March 2023. According to Fntastic this delay was to move the entire game onto Unreal Engine 5, something that Epic, the makers of Unreal Engine, do not recommend doing while your project is in production. While Fntastic were not moving from a completely different engine such as Unity, it was still a baffling decision to make when the game was so close to launching. Even more insane was that they intended on completing the shift in around 10 months so that The Day Before could hit its new launch window.

If the timeline seems unreasonable, that’s because it was. Speaking on what was then Twitter, a number of developers commented on the plan. The consensus was that while it was theoretically possible to migrate from Unreal 4 to Unreal 5 in a mere 10 months, assuming it was pretty much a base version of Unreal with no modifications, it was pretty damn unlikely.

At this point, Fntastic decides to vanish off the face of the Earth again. Needless to say people were getting a touch suspicious: The Day Before arrives with an incredibly beautiful trailer, is being made by a developer with a spotty track record at best, is backed by a very small publisher, is promising the world and then gets delayed at the last second so that the devs can swap engine. It’s a little crazy, and yet The Day Before is still getting heaps of attention and plenty of people are wishlisting it on Steam. Like the old adage says, any publicity is good publicity, I guess.

Fntastic is just volunteers?

Around June of 2022 the story got even weirder. A new page popped on Fntastic’s website calling for volunteers to help with their ongoing projects. Okay, sure, it’s not a great look but plenty of people are probably willing to give up a few hours to work on a videogame. Yeah, that’s not quite what Fntastic means, though.

According to the page on Fntastic’s website, the company’s whole culture is based around volunteering and that apparently means “every Fntastic member is a volunteer.”

The page goes on to say that there are two types of volunteers: full-time and part-time. The former gets paid a salary and the positions are very limited. If you can’t see the flaw in that statement allow me to be clearer: IT AIN’T A VOLUNTEER POSITION IF THEY GET A SALARY!

As for the latter, they could get things like free game codes, participation certificates and rewards for helping do things like translating and community moderation, and could even “offer their unique skills to improve our projects or create new special features.”

Eyebrows were raised so high up faces that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson probably had to briefly consider filing for a copyright infringement. Here was a company that was seemingly promising a triple-A level videogame looking for volunteers to bolster their ranks. It didn’t help that Fntastic hadn’t said much about the size of their team, so nobody knew if their operation was two dudes in a shed or a few hundred people diligently working away.

Fntastic attempted up this PR blunder by issuing a statement that failed to justify anything. “During the short history of our company, there have been many people who approached us and wanted to help in different ways,” said Fntastic. “It doesn’t relate to code writing, or development itself though, but other important things such as moderation, localization, or simply rooting for us and cheering us up.”

Localization, moderating and community engagement roles are normally actual paid positions in a company, it should be noted. And based on the second part of Fntastic’s statement, it seemed that what the company actually wanted was a cheerleading team.

The fine folk of Eurogamer did manage to actually speak to Fntastic though, and their answer made things somewhat clearer. Well, sort of.

“Essentially, the word ‘volunteer’ comes from the Latin word ‘voluntarius’, meaning ‘willing’ or ‘of one’s own choice’,” Fntastic told Eurogamer.

“Anyone who is open to life can become a volunteer with Fntastic, and there are two types of volunteers. Today we have over 100 full-time internal volunteers (employees) from Singapore, Russia, the Netherlands, Thailand, Ukraine, Finland, Kazakhstan, and Belarus who work as engineers, artists, HR professionals, etc. We also have 40 external US and worldwide volunteers (supporters) who help with testing and reviewing our products at a very early stage.”

Fntastic gave Eurogamer an example of their volunteer system, explaining that, “In addition to tests, external volunteers (supporters) help localise products into different languages.

“Last year, we ordered localisation for Propnight from a well-known large studio specialising in translations. As practice has shown, the result of their work was not so perfect. Most of it had to be redone with the help of our enthusiastic volunteers (supporters). In Propnight, together with these supporters, we found bugs, dealt with cheaters, and even organised our Discord communities.”

Personally, I didn’t actually have too much of an issue with this whole thing. While I certainly don’t think it looked good from an outside perspective, I also realised that, if given the opportunity, I probably would be willing to “volunteer” at a small studio in order to help make a game. It would be fun and interesting, especially if my mediocre writing skills or something like that could be put to use. And some people might consider it a kind of work experience, something to put on their CV and gain some knowledge from.

Plus, a lot of companies do similar things, asking members of their community help moderate pages or even help spot problems with their games. Of course, any company with profits rolling in should not be relying on any of this and should be paying people for their work.

What the hell is Continent?

Right. Now we take a brief detour into Continent. What’s that, you ask? Well, that’s the brief period in early 2023 where Fntastic declared “war on offices! The fight for freedom has begun.”

Confused? You should be. You see, Fntastic were primarily a remote-work studio and it turned out that while they were making The Day Before they were also working on something they called Continent, an app similar to something like Microsoft Teams.

Fntastic originally seemed to have got the idea for Continent back in 2018 because that’s when they put up an extremely basic website for Continent. It wasn’t until January of 2023 that they did anything with the website though, suddenly giving it a spruce up while declaring war on offices. A tad dramatic for a remote-work app, but okay.

Shortly after that, Fntastic began hyping people for what it was marketing as a sort of look at how The Day Before was being made which would also feature some proper gameplay. But it turned out that the entire trailer was actually an advert for Continent with The Day Before popping up occasionally. What was shown was a fairly shoddy version of Microsoft Teams, a cheap knockoff that you might expect to see in some corner shop somewhere that also sells “The Re-Avengers” featuring classic heroes like Pikachu and a vaguely humanoid-shaped generic lump of plastic.

The original Continent video has been taken down, but luckily Youtube channel Louwhay got hold of it and is hosting it on their channel.

In the video, its claimed that Fntastic gets support from several partners, including getting sent a brand new laptop from Lenovo and a top-end graphics card from Nvidia.

Apparently, Fntastic’s fantastic plan was to sell Continent as an enterprise app, doubtless hoping that the traumatic memories of the Covid era when everybody had to stay inside and realised how few good movies actually exist on Netflix would be enough to persuade companies to buy into it.

Before this, some people had accused Fntastic of using The Day Before as a marketing tool for Propnight, a claim that didn’t make a whole lot of sense – why wouldn’t you use the most wish-listed game on Steam to help out your other game, at least a little? But after also using The Day Before to market Continent, I could see their point.

It turns out it wouldn’t matter much, however, because a few months after their big Continent push, Fntastic nuked the project from the Internet. Now, the only way to view the Continent website is via The Wayback Machine, and the entire project appears to have been tossed into a dustbin somewhere. In January they were pushing it hard, in February it got updated with voice chat, and then by March its entire existence had been erased. Why? We don’t have a clue. Seriously. Fntastic never spoke of it again, and nobody managed to dig up any dirt on it. It simply vanished, kind of like Fntastic did on some of its past projects.

Fntastic didn’t trademark The Day Before

By this point, people are getting more and more upset with Fntastic. The trailer which was meant to have shown proper gameplay of The Day Before had turned out to be a sales pitch for Continent. People were demanding a proper look at the game, and after staying quiet for a while, Fntastic agreed to finally show something. Even better, they said it was going to be raw gameplay footage. Hopes were raised. Perhaps this would give us a better idea of whether The Day Before was even a real damn game.

And then The Day Before was delisted from Steam.

The Internet was baffled, with some wondering if this was a tacit admittance that The Day Before was one giant scam. Fntastic, though, told everyone not to worry because it was just an error and the game would be back up shortly.

Then Fntastic popped up again, this time to say that the game was actually taken down due to a private individual filing a copyright claim against the name The Day Before. Fntastic went on to say that when The Day Before was announced in January 2021, the Day Before trademark was available. Note that they said available, not that they had actually got the trademark. A few months after the announcement, a chap by the name of Sun Jae Lee applied for a trademark in relation to a range of Class 9 goods. Most importantly, this included downloadable videogame software.

Needless to say, the Internet was quick to point out how crazy it was that Fntastic hadn’t bothered to do its due diligence on the name.

Fntastic then issued a statement that said they were delaying the promised gameplay footage due to the copyright dispute. This made very little sense as the trademark dispute wouldn’t stop them from showing off their game, and any dispute could take months or even years to settle. Fntastic then went a step further by delaying The Day Before again, shifting its release date to eight months later on November 10, 2023.

Understandably, accusations were made that Fntastic was using this copyright story as a way to hide their game. Perhaps as a measure to combat this growing dissent, a few days later Fntastic spoke to IGN and seemingly contradicted their own statement by saying that they were already planning to delay the game before the copyright strike hit. Utterly baffled by Fntastic’s inability to get their shit together, the Internet ramped up its accusations that The Day Before was a scam. Even the chief moderator on the game’s Discord server, the very same moderator who had announced the new gameplay trailer, confessed that they were having doubts that the game even existed. Wholf said that, “Those who wonder, if the game is real, I’m wondering the same right now as well.” Wholf also said that they hadn’t seen any gameplay, either.

Gameplay! And plagiarism!

Under heavy fire from even the most ardent defenders of The Day Before, the dubious duo in charge of Fntastic finally delivered the promised gameplay trailer in February of 2023, giving us a 10-minute look at the game in action. Finally, a chance to see what it would be like to grab a keyboard and mouse and actually play The Day Before.

God, it was boring. The trailer showed off a lot of large, empty spaces with almost no zombies and minimal PvP action. Most of the time was spent holding down the F key to very slowly loot stuff. It was like someone had forgotten to include the zombies in the game, and then five minutes before the gameplay trailer remembered there was meant to be undead in it and managed to ram maybe a dozen zombies into it. It was a far cry from the initial trailers we had been shown.

The visual downgrade was pretty hefty, too. While it certainly didn’t look bad, it was a significant step back from what had been shown in the first few trailers. The moody Christmas setting of the debut trailer was gone, taking with it all the cool light reflections in puddles and beautiful snow. What was left looked far flatter and much less visually exciting.

The reaction was not good, to put it lightly. The trailer was heavily downvoted while Discord and Reddit threads popped up, packed full of people who were unhappy with the dull gameplay and the big step backwards The Day Before’s graphics had taken. Many people began to speculate that the debut trailer and follow-up gameplay weren’t taken from the game at all and were created as heavily scripted, small chunks of game designed purely to grab attention. It’s not unusual for a company to take a vertical slice of their game and show it off, but in the case of The Day Before people suspected there was no larger game at that point to take a slice from.

It got even worse for Fntastic when people started noticing that the gameplay video contained a lot of shots that looked not just inspired by Call of Duty but seemingly ripped straight from it. Another shot showed a player speeding through some streets in a Lamborghini while a herd of deer ran in front of it, a sequence that looked an awful lot like one that had taken place in the Will Smith movie I Am Legend.

This wouldn’t be the only time that Fntastic were accused of plagiarism, either, as some of their later videos included voiceovers that sounded like they had been copied from other games like Red Dead Redemptio 2 and Cyberpunk 2077. Youtuber Randomly put together a short video demonstrating just how similar Fntastic’s work sounded to those much bigger, much better games.

A month until launch, and The Day Before was still MIA

By the time October 2024 rolled around, The Day Before was a month away from release and still wasn’t back on Steam. This didn’t stop Fntastic from announcing some new stuff though, this time saying that players would be able to get jobs in the game’s safe spaces, becoming things like manual laborers or even musicians. The idea, according to Fntastic, is that these jobs would make The Day Before even more immersive. Okay, then.

It wasn’t until just a few weeks before the planned launch that The Day Before reappeared on Steam with Fntastic having managed to win their court case. It looked like people would finally get to play The Day Before….and then Fntastic delayed it again.

The new delay shifted The Day Before to December 7th which would turn out to be its actual release date. But with the delay came another piece of news: The Day Before was now going to launch as an Early Access title, something which had never been hinted at by Fntastic prior to this. Everything they had said indicated that The Day Before was going to be a standard release, especially as they had been adamant in their claim that the game had been in development for five years already.

It was yet another red flag to add to Fntastic’s growing garden of the damn things. By putting the game into Early Access, Fntastic could charge people for a barebones or barely-even-working project and all of their promised features could be said to be coming later. The whole thing stank of Fntastic’s earlier games which were abandoned in Early Access, never finished or coming close to what had been promised. People were worried. And yet, there was still a die-hard group defending Fntastic and The Day Before at every turn.

The day before The Day Before

With just one day to go before The Day Before officially launched on Steam, it seemed like Fntastic had run out of time to do anything overly stupid. You should never underestimate an idiot though, because mere hours before their game hit the digital storefront Fntastic wiped out the majority of their older videos, leaving just a handful on their Youtube channel.

Why would they do that? We don’t actually know. As far as I can tell, Fntastic never explained why they opted to obliterate a bunch of their marketing material in the same way that they never elaborated on why Continent was scrubbed from existence, either.

The speculation was that Fntastic did it in a misguided and idiotic attempt to stop people from comparing the final product to what they had shown previously. If this was Fntastic’s aim then it was a dumb one because obviously, the videos existed and continue to exist in heaps of other places, including on IGN’s channel.

On the very same day, Fntastic Tweeted out a JPEG image thanking fans and potential players alike, while also asking people not to accuse the game of being a scam or of an asset flip as it had taken them five years of hard work to make The Day Before happen.

The Day Before finally releases onto Steam. People wish it hadn’t.

On December 7th, 2023 The Day Before was officially released on Steam. The long and confusing saga of Fntastic was seemingly at an end as now people could actually play the game and see what the developers had cooked up over those five long, hard years.

Crap. Absolute crap, that’s what they cooked up. Stinky, smelly, vomit-inducing crap.

Players immediately took to Steam, Discord and Reddit to vent about the game’s horrendous state, from its myriad of technical issues, many of which were freaking hilarious, to the braindead enemy AI and the fact that you could complete entire missions without ever seeing a zombie. Practically before it had even hit the Steam servers, The Day Before was slapped with an “Overwhelmingly negative” rating.

Perhaps the biggest complaint was that after years of marketing, The Day Before was not a survival-MMO like had been promised. While it’s admittedly a somewhat vague definition for a genre, the term survival-MMO did provide a kind of idea of what to expect. In reality, however, The Day Before was more like an extraction shooter where you’d accept some randomly generated mission to loot some tat like a calculator or some wire and then be dropped into the city. Entire missions could be completed without ever even seeing a zombie or even a player, resulting in boring gameplay sessions where people strolled through the boring streets, looted some stuff and left again. If you were unlucky enough to get killed you would lose everything unless you kept some spare gear back base.

Amidst this flood of negativity, Fntastic decided to commit yet another PR blunder, presumably due to some sort of withdrawal symptoms from having not stuffed their foot in their mouth for an entire day. They quietly went in and altered the game’s tags, removing both the MMO and open-world tags, two descriptors that Fntastic had been using since The Day Before was announced.

And yet despite everything going on, The Day Before managed to hit a peak-player count on Steam of just under 40,000. 40,000 people paid money and played The Day Before despite every single shady thing Fntastic had done, despite the multiple delays, the accusations of plagiarism and everything else. It was, to be honest, a dark day for gaming because this pile of shite had managed to get more players than several other far more deserving games from across 2023.

Let me put it into perspective for you: the fantastic Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew didn’t manage to break a peak player count of 4,000. Its developer, Mimimi, announced that Shadow Gambit would be their final game because the real-time tactical genre just wasn’t profitable. Immortals of Aveum, while hardly an amazing game but still pretty solid and fun, couldn’t even hit 1,000 players which resulted in the hard-working team at Ascendent Studios cutting 45% of their staff.

It just goes to show you what some flashy trailers can do, doesn’t it? It’s a warning to consumers and developers alike: beautiful trailers are so easy to make these days. Just about anyone can throw together something that has surface beauty and it’ll do better than genuinely good games didn’t oversell themselves or get put on IGN’s channel.

At least the player count didn’t last long. As quickly as people came they left, realising that The Day Before was a mess that could barely be described as a functional videogame.

The 3 day collapse

It’s amazing how quickly a house of cards can collapse. Within just three days The Day Before had lost 80% of its players. Its Steam rating was firmly in the toilet due to an impressive 20,000+ people leaving their reviews, making The Day Before one of the lowest-reviewed games in the platform’s history. To put that into perspective, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has just over 5,700 reviews, and it’s the worst reviewed Call of Duty game to date.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of those people were quick to claim a refund, doubtless horrified that they had spent $40 to play a game that was basically the digital equivalent of what’s left in the toilet after eating at Taco Bell. According to an unverified memo leak, The Day Before sold 201,000 thousand copies in its first few days, which amounts to just over $8,000,000, a solid chunk of revenue for a developer like Fntastic. However, the report also shows nearly 50% of the copies sold were refunded.

With those refunds, then, Fntastic were looking at a considerably smaller payday, a payday that wasn’t going to be happening any time soon because Valve doesn’t pay out developer’s funds for around a month. If Fntastic wanted to grab the money and run, they were going to have to wait until nearly 2024.

Spoiler, they did not make it that long.

While some folk were busy getting refunds and others were trying to scrape some fun out of the game, a number of Reddit users and Steam community members were busy ripping the game to pieces and compiling a vast list of assets that Fntastic had bought straight from the Unreal store.

The most interesting claim to emerge from all this detective work is that The Day Before’s city may have been built almost entirely from the American City Packs bundle, available on the Unreal store for $399.99. The major selling point of the bundle was its ability to procedurally generate buildings in order to create large, urban maps in a relatively short period of time.

The reason this is important is because that pack was only released in 2021 just three months after The Day Before was debuted, supporting the ongoing theory that The Day Before was actually a hastily thrown-together game instead of the five-year labour of love that Fntastic was claiming.

The issue wasn’t that Fntastic were using purchased assets, just to be clear – premade assets are a massive boon to small developers working on a tight budget and serve as a great way to help flesh out their games. The key is to use them somewhat sparingly because trying to stitch together a 100 different assets or packs from a bunch of different people can become a difficult task, almost more than just building it all yourself. But the real issue is that Fntastic’s claims clearly painted The Day Before as a game they had built from the ground up, by themselves, for half a decade, whereas the community’s keen sleuthing skills indicated that this was simply not the truth.

Suffice to say, it had been a rough three days for Fntastic. Yes, in just three days the game’s playerbased had practically disappeared, refunds were being requested all over the place, Fntastic had mud on their face and it was all a bloody big disgrace. What little reputation they had was now gone. But hey, maybe there was still some small, tiny hope that Fntastic could somehow rally and make an epic comeback in the same vein as Cyberpunk 2077 or No Man’s Sky, right?

Day 4

Just four days after The Day Before launched, developer Fntastic posted a JPEG on X said, “Today, we announce the closure of Fntastic studio.”

Yup. Four days after releasing what was once the most wish-listed game on all of Steam, Fntastic announced its closure, declaring that The Day Before has “failed financially, and we lack the funds to continue. All income received is being used to pay of debts and our partners.”

Like they had said several times over the past few years, Fntastic repeated that they hadn’t taken any money from consumers as the game had not been open for pre-orders and no crowdfunding was used. And since Valve was holding on to any cash earned from sales of The Day Before, Fntastic were technically right – they hadn’t swiped any money from actual paying customers.

It didn’t really make any sense, though. Since the game did seem to be cobbled together from pre-bought assets in a relatively short timeframe the development costs should not have been too high, and even with all the refunds they were still looking at a few million dollars being dropped into their bank account toward the end of December or the beginning of January. Now that The Day Before was available, Fntastic’s costs should be quite low, letting them coast through December until Steam handed over some cash.

While we were all busy pondering this financial nonsense, Fntastic were wiping their company from every facet of the web. The brothers dumb took themselves off LinkedIn, the Youtube channel disappeared, the official website was scrubbed of everything except for their official closure statement.

If there was a silver lining to be found, it’s that both Fntastic and publisher Mytona put out a statement to say that they were and still are working with Steam to provide refunds to everyone, regardless of playtime. The Day Before was removed from sale, ensuring nobody else could wind up paying money for it. However, it doesn’t look like refunds are going to be automatic, and not everybody will refund the game, meaning there’s still a chance that Fntastic or Mytona could get paid anything leftoever.

Speaking of Mytona, their part in this sorry tale isn’t as explosive as Fntastic’s, yet still important. During development Fntastic mentioned that the entire project was being funded by Mytona who were also checking constantly on the progress, as you’d expect from a company sinking a substantial chunk of money into something. If The Day Before really was a scam, then its Mytona who were presumably the main target if all the money was indeed coming from them.

But perhaps a more important question is why Mytona rode along inside the train wreck of The Day Before. While they aren’t a huge publisher they do have offices in several countries and have published a number of small mobile titles that have done quite well, like Cooking Diary which has been downloaded over 10 million times and currently holds a 4.5 on the Google Play Store. Surely if they were checking in on their investment they must have noticed that The Day Before was a giant dumpster fire that wasn’t even the right type of dumpster. Perhaps they fell foul of the classic Sunk Cost fallacy, or hoped that things could be turned around. Perhaps they knew it was a fuck-up as well, or maybe Fntastic pulled the wool over their eyes, too. Maybe they, too, were in on the scam.

Fntastic’s financials

A little more light was shed on the whole disaster shortly after Fntastic announced its closure. Aloysius Low of Yahoo News! decided to pay a visit Fntastic’s offices in Singapore since Fntastic’s own website claimed Singapore was their headquarters, despite evidence to the contrary suggesting Russia was the company’s real base of operations.

In Low’s own words, he “expected to see a typical game dev studio, except with empty desks and perhaps game developers looking dejected as they pondered their life choices. I also expected to see a funky office with posters of the game’s artwork around.”

Having acquired the company’s address via Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) Low headed out to visit what turned out to be a small retail space in Balestier. He checked the tenant directory and discovered that it was a co-op working space, so Low headed up and asked around. According to the building’s manager, Fntastic just used the place as a virtual office.

Aloysius Low then looked up Fntastic’s original address per their filings which put them at a place called Peninsula Plaza. A quick online check told Low that that Fntastic wasn’t there either and that the original address belongs to a management consultancy.

Eduard Gotovsev and his brother, Aisen Gotovsev, the founders of Fntastic, do both have private addresses listed in Singapore, though, as well as work passes that will expire in 2026. Various folk across the Internet have posted these addresses up as they are technically public information, but I won’t provide the addresses here. The reason I do bring it up is because nobody seems sure why Fntastic is listed as being headquartered in Singapore as the majority of its employees are based in Russia and no grants were acquired from the Singapore government to help with the game’s creation. It’s yet another mystery in the already mysterious story of Fntastic. Personally, I think Fntastic may have created a virtual headquarters to bypass the numerous sanctions and embargos placed on Russia.

But back to Mr. Low. Via ACRA he also acquired Fntastic’s financials’ for 2022, as reported by Fntastic themselves, providing a small glimpse into the size and scale of the company, at least for that single year. According to the report, Fntastic brought in just over S$3.4 million (2,252,048 in American Dollars)in revenue, which presumably came from publisher Mytona, and a net profit of just under S$840,000 thousand. The filings also revealed that by the end of 2022, Fntastic had S$1.4 million (1,050,956 US Dollars) in cash just sitting in a bank account. That same lump some of cash was also listed as being there at the beginning of the year, indicating that it may have been a financial cushion.

Aloysius Low also noted that the filings don’t seem to indicate any staff located in Singapore being paid.

The filings also gave us a glimpse into how much the brothers were pulling in, specifically a salary of S$100,000 each. The filings also revealed that Fntastic had somehow managed to ring up a travel bill of S$308,833.

As for the debts that Fntastic mentioned paying off, the only one Low could find in the statement was a term loan amounting to S$481,188.

All of these financial details really cast doubt on how Fntastic seemed to run out of funds so quickly after launching The Day Before. While the filings Low uncovered don’t reveal Fntastic as a Rockstar-esque company raking in money like Scrooge McDuck, they didn’t appear to be struggling either, and even with all the refunds that were being asked for it seemed like The Day Before could still bring in another million or two.

It begs the questions: once The Day Before was released onto Steam, did Fntastic manage to meet their contractual obligations to Mytona? And have the blunder brothers Eduard Gotovsev and Aisen Gotovsev now done a runner with the cash that was sitting in Fntastic’s bank account? Or is Mytona more heavily involved than has been realised, as per speculation from some of the gaming community?

The simple answer is that we don’t know. At least, not yet. The saga of Fntastic, Mytona and the Day Before is ongoing and it seems like new information will keep popping up for quite a while yet.

Oh look, IGN reviewed it

I wanted to close out this lengthy read with a bit of a laugh, because we definitely need it. You might recall that IGN has played a part in The Day Before’s rise to popularity, inexplicably featuring it multiple times throughout the years. I don’t really hold it against them though, since Fntastic did a pretty good job of fooling a lot of people, including even Nvidia at one point.

And to IGN’s credit they actually did review The Day Before and were not kind to it. Like, at all. In fact, IGN gave it the first 1 out of 10 they’ve handed out in over a decade. Gabriel Moss was the poor bastard tasked with talking about The Day Before and in his review, which carefully skirted how much IGN featured the game over the years, he described it as, “one of the worst games I’ve ever played, to the point where I’m afraid to continue running it on my PC – and if you didn’t manage to try it, you can count yourself as one of the lucky ones.”

I do indeed count myself as one of the luck ones, Gabriel. I am forever thankful that I didn’t play The Day Before. Life is terrible enough without voluntarily torturing myself.

One final shot from Fntastic

On December 11th, the day that Fntastic announced their closure, X user Kypershot Tweeted Fntastic and said: “Unbelievable that you guys hyped this game up so much and this is the end result. You guys are an absolute disgrace to the Video Game industry.”

Fntastic replied: “This was our first big experience. Shit happens.”

“Shit happens.”

Shit. Happens.


The Day Before: Shit Happens.

So, was The Day Before a scam?

Here’s where we stand, then: The Day Before is still listed on Steam but cannot be purchased, Fntastic have seemingly shut down and anyone can get a refund. Publisher Mytona is still active and appears to be carrying on.

But we are left with a question: was The Day Before a scam intended to get people’s hard-earned money? Or was it actually just one giant example of incompetent leadership, grand visions that could never be achieved and gross stupidity.

I’m not a legal expert. From my limited knowledge there does not appear to be enough concrete information to declare The Day Before to be a scam with anywhere near 100% certainty. Despite many people trying to uncover further information, it’s unclear what money Fntastic were trying to scam. If they wanted to get customers money then they did a poor job of that. It’s more likely that if there was an intended victim it was Mytona, along with any other “partners” Fntastic managed to drag in such as Nvidia, Lenovo and more. There’s also the possibility of Fntastic having got grants from either the Russian government or the Singapore government, but again, no solid evidence has been found.

All of this can be said of Mytona, too. Their role in The Day Before was seemingly just as the money people, and yet surely they must have been aware that things were not going well. Although tenuous, the fact that both Mytona and Fntastic are from the same area of Russia has led to many people feeling dubious toward the publisher and its role in proceedings. Again, there’s not enough solid evidence to say anything with certainty.

Some former employees of Fntastic are slowly starting to come forward, hinting that The Day Before was never an open-world survival MMO, and that the Gotovsev brothers were terrible leaders who constantly changed what the game was meant to be.

At this point, it seems like the only way we will know for sure is if the brothers pop up again under a different company name and with a suspicious amount of funding at their disposal.

Whether a scam or a colossally mismanaged dumpster fire, The Day Before’s story has been a fascinating one. It has taught a harsh lesson that both we consumers and the videogame media need to be careful about flashy trailers and big promises, lest we end up with another disaster and an overwhelming feeling that people have been scammed out of their money.

Stay safe and stay smart, my friends.

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