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Undawn is an open-world zombie survival shooter that launched in June 2023 on mobile and PC, but I don’t blame you for not knowing anything about it. According to Reuters, the game, which appears to have been on very few people’s radar, didn’t perform well for Chinese conglomerate Tencent, despite Oscar-winning actor Will Smith playing a major role in its story.

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In a March 21 Reuters report, sources told the publication that Undawn has “flopped spectacularly.” The post-apocalyptic zombie shooter allegedly had more than 300 developers on it and a budget of nearly 1 billion yuan (around $140 million). Unfortunately, according to Reuters via the research firm Appmagic, the game has only managed to rake in $287,000 in revenue. That’s about 0.2 percent of the game’s alleged budget in the span of eight months

Undawn Official

There are a few factors that could have contributed to Undawn’s reported failure. First, as previously mentioned, it doesn’t appear to have been marketed enough so that gamers actually knew about its release. Social media posts made after the Reuters story broke are mostly people asking the same question: “Am I the only one who didn’t even know this game existed?” Even the last video on the game’s official YouTube channel was in October 2023, so it doesn’t appear to have gotten that much post-launch buzz. The game currently sits at a “mixed” rating on Steam with 5,535 reviews at the time of writing.

Plus, Undawn is an uninteresting name for a zombie game—it’s kinda close to KNP’s zombie survival game Undead and Supermassive Games’ interactive horror game Until Dawn. Could it have benefited from a more recognizable title? Maybe, at least to distinguish it from other well-known undead shooters.

Sadly, not even famous actor—and infamous slapper—Will Smith could’ve saved Tencent’s game. Smith promoted Undawn on his official YouTube channel in May 2023, revealing that he also plays the lead in its post-apocalyptic zombie story. According to IGN, Smith plays Trey Jones, a survivor who acts as a guide to help players navigate a world four years after it’s been decimated by a global disaster. But his star power clearly couldn’t draw a solid playerbase with it reaching a peak of 8,531 players nine months ago, according to games tracker SteamDB. And in the wake of Undawn’s failure, Tencent is moving away from large-scale, standalone games, with the company’s chief strategy officer James Mitchell telling investors during the earnings call that it’s turning attention towards casual party games and Genshin Impact-like anime RPGs instead.

“We’re focusing on fewer bigger budget games,” Mitchell said on March 20 via Reuters. “Typically, we’re seeking to make the biggest bets around games that either iterate on a successful IP…or games that are iterating around proven gameplay success within a niche and taking those to a more mass market.”

Kotaku has reached out to Tencent for comment.

According to Reuters, it’s not just Undawn that’s struggling. Assassin’s Creed Jade, one of the many in-development sneaky-stab games set in ancient China, has reportedly been delayed to 2025 so that the “hundreds of people from the team” could get shuffled to the company’s recently released party game DreamStar. This is despite Tencent investing millions of dollars in the franchise in September 2022, becoming one of Ubisoft’s biggest shareholders. It sounds like Tencent is making major pivots that may affect its business strategy.

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