"The Day Before" Developers Enlisting Unpaid Volunteers For Steam's Most Wishlisted Game
These volunteers are compensated with "cool rewards, participation certificates and free codes"
The Day Before is an upcoming zombie survival MMO in development by Singapore-based developers Fntastic. The studio previously released The Wild Eight, an open-world survival game. The Day Before was announced back in January 2021 and was slated for a June 2022 release, becoming the wishlisted game on Steam. However, Fntastic announced last month that the game would be delayed about ten months as they were migrating it to Unreal Engine 5:
As per IGN, “Feeling and understanding the great responsibility that we face, with enormous gratitude in our hearts, we’re pleased to announce that The Day Before is switching to the new Unreal Engine 5 technology! The transition to a more advanced and adapted open worlds engine, will make the gameplay of The Day Before even more fantastic. In this regard, we inform you that the new release date of the game will be March 1st, 2023.”
Fntastic recently updated its website to include the blurb: “Fntastic’s culture is based on the idea of volunteering. This means that every Fntastic member is a volunteer.” The website then elaborates on the difference between its “full-time volunteers” which seems to be another word for a regular full-time job and “part-time volunteers” who are compensated with “cool rewards, participation certificates and free codes.”
According to the site, part-time volunteers are tasked to perform duties like translation and community moderation. There are small development outfits that sometimes use community members for tasks like Discord moderation. However, Fntastic also states that part-time volunteers with unique skills may be able “improve our projects or create new special features.”
The Day Before is a high-profile venture, with Fntastic saying millions of people have wishlisted the game on Steam. It’s certainly unusual for a studio to rely on unpaid labour when making a game of this magnitude. Furthermore, some of the assignments Fntastic states they task their volunteers with go beyond the scope of what a volunteer usually does and venture into labour that the studio really should be compensating these employees for.
Fntastic has the tall order of migrating their game to a new engine in less than a year. For now, The Day Before is scheduled to release on March 1 next year.