A2pagelargeiconJeff Vogel's Spiderweb Software has been making incredibly deep RPGs for the past two decades, with many of those titles making their way over to the iPad where they seemed quite at home. The latest from Spiderweb to grace the iPad was to be Avernum 2: Crystal Souls, which was scheduled to launch this week. Unfortunately, that won't be happening, and for the foreseeable future Spiderweb Software will no longer be developing their games for iOS at all.

According to a post on the official Spiderweb forums, iOS 8.3, the latest version of Apple's software which launched while Avernum 2: Crystal Souls was in submission, seriously breaks the game. Once the issue was discovered Spiderweb pulled the game from sale, but it appears that the game-breaking issues run deeper than first thought. So Spiderweb has decided to cancel the release of Crystal Souls on iPad altogether. In another post on their forums, Spiderweb goes into the reasons they will no longer be developing for iPad going forward. In short, the games just don't make enough money to justify it.

This is defnitely sad news, but also understandable. The fans of Spiderweb's work have always been quite niche, but at the same time there really wasn't anyone else serving that hardcore, stupidly deep RPG genre on the App Store. I've seen a lot of games get broken with iOS updates, though I've never seen any with problems so insurmountable that the developers completely give up on them. Though I am not technical in any sense and perhaps the issues are deeper and more difficult to tackle than I realize. Also, I understand how frustrating it must be to try and sell incredibly niche titles in the App Store where they are perceived as "expensive" by the masses.

Spiderweb says that their library and even the briefly available Avernum 2: Crystal Souls should still continue to work if you're on iOS 8.2. For now the four games currently available in the App Store–Avadon: The Black Fortress [$9.99 (HD)], Avadon 2: The Corruption [$9.99 (HD)], Avernum: Escape from the Pit [$9.99 (HD)], and Avernum 6 [$6.99 (HD)]–will remain there until Spiderweb is no longer able to support them. Aka if they get broken by an iOS update, they're coming down. If you have any issues with any Spiderweb games being broken, you can contact them at support@spiderwebsoftware.com .

The only real bright side to this is that there's a chance Spiderweb will reassess the situation down the road and may come back to iOS development, but for now let's pour one out for one less developer making great games for the iPad.

  • StealthDawg

    This is a damn shame. It really
    Is. Just disappointing. I understand all
    Of the points in his forum post. But god this sucks.

  • Maglor

    Oh, no! This is the one that I expected, but, I'm really sorry they bring this buggy things to everyone. What a pity!

  • Alexythimia23

    Wow... Did not see that one coming, damn i was going to buy it tmoz aswell

    • DeNappa

      Yeah it's sad, but i understand their reasoning 🙁
      Spiderweb has A lot of depth in their games, i really should take the time to play those remaining ones in my steam library.

      • Alexythimia23

        Me too....

  • ScotDamn

    This is tragic news.

  • Assault_is_eternal

    I've asked this question elsewhere: who's to blame that apps break so easily on iOS and Mac OS? I'm a long time Apple user (Apple IIc when a kid, Macs since 1990) and am very familiar with things breaking when a new version of MacOS, OS X or iOS comes out. I know that Apple has no patience for the past and is always pushing forward. But come on: MFi gamepads being introduced in iOS 7, and then broken in iOS 8. And now a game being broken so badly by an incremental OS update that it's being abandoned? Are developers not following Apple's guidelines and that's why things are breaking so frequently, or is Apple a bucking bronco that tosses developers for loops with unfair changes to the operating system?

    • pauldavidmerritt

      I'll absolutely go with "bucking bronco".

    • qdisqust

      I will also go with bucking bronco. Or maybe more accurately Apple's the honey badger.

    • gmattergames

      Seller beware...

    • dancj

      I can't answer for this game, but apparently the recent Square Enix game that got killed by an update was because the game didn't follow guidelines - be used hard coded paths.

      Obviously it's not just third party developers though. Apple's Remote app has failed to show album artwork since iOS 8

    • r618

      It might be something subtle, like hardcoded paths mentioned above, which is not hard to correct. But the problem IMHO is they rely on another party of so called 'cross platform' or similar framework which did not get updated, and/or they are tired of dealing with bugs and breakages of another separate layer apart from iOS itself.

  • worldcitizen1919

    The World Ends with You suffered the same fate but they. Have a huge development team.

    • Jake7905

      Yeah, that was far from a Square deal.

  • pauldavidmerritt

    Things would be different if Jobs had something to say in regard to the App Store and iOS version nonsense that's going on. It's all just broken.

    • qdisqust

      Uhh Apple has a looooong history of breaking backwards compatibility.

      • pauldavidmerritt

        Yes, they do have a long history of this. But, I still imagine Jobs would do a little better than to prong developers like this. He would at least already be prepared for the premium market to come full swinging again, and would have had iOS 8 ready for it [Mark my words, premium awesomeness is coming back for a while. Get ready for it, because iOS 8 didn't].

    • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan


  • klink

    iPad is my gaming weapon of choice. Unfortunately, it seems the demand for iPad games has cratered. I'm not sure why developers would target anything but universal apps.

  • unlimitedfury

    Mess around with Xcode Jared. 🙂

  • bob sabiston

    What in the world was in 8.3 that broke it so badly? I could understand a major OS update, like 7 -> 8, but just a minor point increase added something that seriously broke the app? I hope my apps work on 8.3, I haven't upgraded yet...

    • HarryWarden

      Not sure but whatever it is, also broke Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath.

      • pauldavidmerritt

        Not for me, 5s. Are you on a Touch? If so, you had it coming anyway.

      • HarryWarden

        IPad Air 1.

    • klink

      It broke the sound in XCOM:EW on my iPad Air 2.

    • bob sabiston

      Yeow. Still, if something worked in 8.2 and broke in 8.3, I find it hard to believe that someone would cancel a whole new, recently finished game rather than fix it! Are those games really expensive to support or something, like with multiplayer servers?

      • Maude St. Nubbins

        No, it's just simple economics. Two hours of a developer's time, let alone an entire team, could cost more than the game will make in a month. I'm not exaggerating...the financial performance of niche, premium, iPad-only games can truly be that dismal, far too frequently.

      • bob sabiston

        Well the game isn't making a dime if they cancel it. Believe me I understand how little iOS apps can make! But if you go to the trouble to actually finish one, it is pretty silly to throw in the towel rather than fix a bug. Whatever the cost is to do that, it is nothing compared to what they spent to make the rest of the game. Seems like he just had decided not release/support it anyway.

      • Shaun Musgrave

        Likely opportunity cost. Vogel is basically a one-man show on the dev side, and he likes to release a game each year to keep the money coming in. Any time he has to spend fixing an unexpected bug now will cut into the planned dev time for Avadon 3, possibly delaying it past Christmas. I'm not happy about this situation, but I understand why he's doing it, especially if sales are as poor as he says they are.

      • Maude St. Nubbins

        That's sunk cost fallacy, ie "throwing good money after bad." You run a revenue projection based on the performance of the last game and if it doesn't exceed the cost of development and marketing, you kill the game, it's as simple as that. Making no money is better than actively losing money supporting a game with a player base that can't reach critical mass. As Shaun below points out, there's an opportunity cost-- every hour you spend on a game that's losing money is time taken away from starting a new project that might succeed, or supporting the game on platforms with a larger customer base.

      • bob sabiston

        OK maybe so. I also didn't realize that the games were ported for iOS, not developed exclusively for them.

        Still, there's something weird about it. I don't think there's anything major that changed in the 8.3 release. Rather it sounds like it was the change to UIViewControllers which happened in the move from OS 7 -> 8. That caused huge hassles in my own apps -- according to you I should have just stopped selling my apps, because it's doubtful I'll be reimbursed for the time. But I like my apps.

        I'm not sure why the change didn't affect them before now, that's what's weird. Maybe this is their first update compiled with the iOS8 SDK.

    • Kedens

      The changes in iOS 8.3 rival the changes from 6.1.4 to 7. Apple has changed a lot of things regarding file handling for apps (hence the break in TWEWY). Ironically they do this to limit user control and it is only through a jailbreak tweak that TWEWY was fixed and I because of a jailbreak was able to back up my avernum 2 ipa. Jailbreaking has many many legitimate uses and if Apple conceded some device control to users it wouldn't be an issue. I hope this isn't a sign of things to come ... Gonna miss spiderweb software

      • bob sabiston

        Yeah I read about the file system thing -- programs like iExplorer don't work anymore, for now.

        But on the forums the spiderweb software guy said that he was canceling the game because UIApplication and UIViewController were deprecated, which is not true to my knowledge. That's why I think it was the orientation thing with UIViewControllers, though it happened with 8.0.

  • qdisqust

    I'm guessing my comment blaming apple for doing it again got deleted. Anyway, the point is: Same old, same old from them. Sorry if I'm frustrated, but it's always frustrating.

    • pauldavidmerritt

      And we deserve to speak about it. We are all the reason Apple AND Touch Arcade are in business.

  • burningzenithx

    This is truly disappointing. I was planning to get my first iPad this weekend and was considering an Avernum game for my first iPad only game, because I already have some on Steam. But now I'm hesitant to get any for fear they'll end up broken not far down the road.

  • hincy89

    Apple should not be making such breaking changing part way through an iOS software, it's almost acceptable when moving up to the next years version. To me this is just foul play on apple's part

  • dbagga84

    Man that damn update is breaking all kinds of games. The amazing Drylands was also released broken because of the iOS update coming out after the game was already submitted. Eff Apple stop updating shit :p lol

  • Dankrio

    Thats's why Apple lost an ios gamer. Not that they care, but...

  • Dankrio

    I would be more lenient if it was the 8 to 9 update. But this? Come one!

  • McGannahann


  • http://adamsimmersive.com Adams Immersive

    When I release my game it will be on a "hobby" basis—I won't quit my day job! (Which is why it has taken so long.)

    To make a real living? If you're not a big fish, it sounds VERY difficult, needing a lot of luck and/or a very non-niche, general-appeal product (which is therefore less interesting to me).

    OS updates involve a lot of luck too. (As has often been true on the desktop as well.)

    I hope Jeff can return--profitably--one day.

  • jamesgecko

    Nothing new here, unfortunately. AURO was delayed for months when iOS 8 came out and broke their engine.

  • http://www.googlepants.com/ Wizard of Odyssey

    This is a drag, and reminds me of the Llamasoft situation. Jeff Minter made so little in his games that doesn't want to come back to iOS, and considers it "the scene of a mugging" and doesn't even have a working Mac anymore.

    I wonder if this is a sign of a larger trend. Sad.

  • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

    Glad I haven't updated since 8.1.2 or whatever I have... It really is a bit ludicrous that games get broken with every single update. How are developers supposed to cope with that?

    Real shame that they've given up. It was a blast having these games on iPad, and I had planned to buy Avernum 2 as well (the first one was fantastic). I probably prefer playing them on PC anyway and have them all there, but it's also pretty neat to have them on an ipad.

  • musicalmac

    There's more to the story. This all makes no sense.

    • Dankrio

      Unfortunatelly it does.

    • pauldavidmerritt

      There are always market/business decisions behind the Apple scene that is not public, as we are all metrics and numbers in their shoddy, monetary points system.

  • eugenemcardle

    We should all contact apple and demand refunds. I have and refund has been granted. They weren't happy about it but it's the only thing we can do. I am in Australia and refunds are very hard to get. I believe its different in Europe, though Apple down here disputes that. $12.99 down here. All the other games still work on 8.3 so not sure what the issue could be.

    • HarryWarden

      What's the refund time frame? iOS broke Stranger's Wrath, which I bought a while ago.

      • eugenemcardle

        Just be polite but forceful when you talk to them. I use the online chat facility. Don't take no for an answer.

  • Enker

    I hate to ask, but will releases continue on android?

  • scratchohey

    CAPTAIN OF THE TITANIC, AS HIS VESSEL IS CAPSIZING AND PASSENGERS ARE DESPERATELY JUMPING INTO LIFEBOATS: Why is everyone leaving? Weird, but whatever. Hopefully they'll reassess the situation and come back soon!

  • curtisrshideler

    I can't stand hearing about Apple shooting devs and gamers in the foot. These stupid iOS updates have upset me from the beginning. That's why I usually stay a full iOS generation behind. Still on iOS 7, which allows me to play everything I have and most of what I want to play. Unfortunately, a lot of apps require iOS 8, but then those same apps get broken in iOS 8.3??? What in the heck is Apple doing in their updates?!

  • anabolicMike

    I bought them though. That ain't cool. I'll be writing them an email which hopefully won't get ignored. Seriously... That's not cool at all. I do however have a couple on my android so I wonder if they would switch em

    • Morgan Leecy

      Assuming its recent, just report a problem with product and get an instant no quibble refund

  • Morgan Leecy

    Wow... I was about to buy Avernum to play on holiday.. glad I didn't now.. as I always keep my IOS up to date and would hate to been deep in the game (or the second one) and it break... fate was kind.

  • korossyl

    This is why we can't have nice things. The World Ends With You shattered the fantasy bubble I was living in, that somehow, the games I'm buying and loving now will be around for years to come. Now, any game could really break at the slightest iOS update. 8.4 is already in the works. What worthless feature will it add? How many of my apps will work the next day? I suppose I was stupid not to realize earlier: Apple has no respect for its consumers.

  • Schpank

    I won't miss them. They've been coasting on the same dated cookie-cutter design so long, it's now considered "retro cool". I own several and IMO they're all pretty much the same game. Happy Trails.

  • Alexythimia23

    Omg reading these posts and people saying oddworld is now broke and xcom, im likw wtf!? I have not even played oddworld, so i hope that is not the case?!!

  • RobMSantos

    I'm leaning more toward the problem being their unwillingness/inability to update a "years old" game engine or a gross misunderstanding of how deprecation works rather than it actually being Apple's fault. Nothing is stopping them from compiling with 8.2 still to avoid any deprecation issues.

  • speetz

    This is terrible. I finally am about in a position I can play their games again and this happens. I am terribly sad and disappointed, not with sws, but in general, and maybe with Apple slightly. Eh. I just want to blame someone.

  • TomCrown

    Use Unity and publish to all platforms with minimal effort, WTF?

  • Deter Pinklage

    Yep. Most iOS gamers are cheap asses.