Smed Sings Hero’s Swan Song

Earlier today John Smedley announced that PixelMage games, his post-SOE/Daybreak venture, would be shutting down and that their game Hero’s Song was officially dead.

Hero's must face turmoil, it is what makes them heroes, right?

Hero’s must face turmoil, that is what makes them heroes, right?

The text from the announcement is as follows:

Hello Hero’s Song Players,

It’s with a heavy heart that I have to report that Pixelmage Games is going to be shutting down and we have ceased development on Hero’s Song. For the last year, our team has worked tirelessly to make the game we’ve dreamed about making, and with your support, and the support of our investors, we were able to get the game into Early Access. Unfortunately sales fell short of what we needed to continue development. We knew going in that most startups don’t make it, and as an indie game studio we hoped we would be the exception to that rule, but as it turned out we weren’t.

We sincerely value our customers. You’re our most important focus and have been from day one. We’re going to offer 100% refunds to all of the people who bought Hero’s Song.

For our Indiegogo customers, please email with your name and information about which one of the packages you bought so we can make sure you get your money back. Our team will respond to confirm we received your email and we’ll make sure you get your refund quickly.

For players that purchased via Steam you will be able to claim your refund through the normal Steam refund process. Go to and you can get your refund right away.

Thank you for all the support you showed us. We’re sorry things worked out the way they did, but we feel strongly that we gave it our all and we’re proud of how far we came with the game. The fact that we weren’t able to finish the game is painful, but the journey of making Hero’s Song has been a great experience for us and we’re just sorry we couldn’t take it all the way.

Thank You,

The Hero’s Song team

Hero’s Song had something of a troubled time from the beginning, starting with Smed playing the “hardcore” card yet again.  There was a cancelled Kickstarter campaign that had too many problems to overcome, the search for funding elsewhere, and the Indiegogo campaign that only got them $94K out of the $200K they were looking for to finance the development.  Then there was the “money is tight” statement from earlier this month.

And then there was the game itself, which appeared on Steam in its early Alpha state and ended up with mixed review frankly because there wasn’t much “there” there at that point.

Still, it was an interesting idea, a retro-feel pixel graphic top down 2D open world Rogue-like adventure game where you could setup your own server, choose deities and tweak the rules to suit your own needs.  I got in and played for a little bit early on, totalling up all of 90 minutes of play time, including the two minutes that got added when I launched the game today.

That's all there will be

That’s all there will be

I took a few screen shots in Steam along the way, but that won’t leave much to remember the game by.

As noted above, if you bought the game on Steam you can get a refund via Valve, but if you contributed to the Indiegogo campaign (as I did) you have to send an email directly to PixelMage with your information and hope they get back to you.  Right now the email address provided is replies with an automated response with a promise to be back in touch “very soon.”

You’d think a game dev of long standing would be wary of using the word “soon,” but we shall see.  Where will Smed end up next?

Others posting on this topic:

After the cut, the description of the game from the Steam page, just for the sake of posterity:

Hero’s Song

About This Game

Hero’s Song is an open world roguelike fantasy action RPG with a beautiful 2D pixel art style. Create epic fantasy worlds uniquely shaped by your choices, the power of the Gods, and thousands of years of procedurally generated history. Adventure alone or with up to 25 friends (during Early Access) on your own server and crush your foes. Become a legendary hero in a dangerous and mysterious world of magic and monsters. Explore endless dungeons and ancient cities in long-forgotten lands in search of knowledge, treasure, and the power of the Gods!
A hardcore action RPG for hardcore gamers

In Hero’s Song, you use the familiar click-to-move and attack controls of classic action RPGs to navigate the battlefield, and outwit, overpower, and overcome your enemies.

Challenge yourself to use a wide variety of melee, ranged, and magical abilities and defeat the intelligent tactics of your enemies.

True to its hardcore nature, combat in Hero’s Song is dangerous and has very real consequences, including the chance of permanent death.

Friendly fire is always defaulted to “on,” so positioning and precision are very important considerations. Death will come quickly if you think this is a simple clickfest.

Create and explore epic fantasy worlds

Within a universe crafted by Patrick Rothfuss, the New York Times bestselling author of The Kingkiller Chronicle, the worlds of Hero’s Song are living ecosystems with deep histories.

Choose a pantheon of gods to dominate your world, influencing not just the physical geography but thousands of years of compelling history, including your hero’s bloodlines.
Adventure far and wide across grasslands, forests, deserts, tundra, oceans, and other procedurally generated environments.

Stumble upon your own stories by following a merry band of warriors, rescuing a traveling merchant from a pack of wolves, or slaughtering an entire village.

Become a legend

In worlds so vast you will never encounter every living being, worthy heroes can accumulate wealth and power beyond imagining, ultimately ascending to godhood themselves.

Discover hundreds of crafting recipes and thousands of hard-to-find resources while contending with a horde of dangerous creatures and self-interested factions.

Loot, craft, and steal nearly 8,000 handmade items, including ancient and magical artifacts passed down through the generations and lost to time.

Struggle to survive in a harsh fantasy world, attending to basic needs, camping in the wilderness, and treating injuries and illness.

Join a community of heroes online

Hero’s Song offers an online community of heroes from which you can recruit other players to join you on your adventures, or battle for supremacy on the field.

  • Host your own persistent worlds supporting up to 25 simultaneous players.
  • Customize your public world, including PvP, permadeath, and the day/night cycle.
  • Join a public world without a separate game client.

7 thoughts on “Smed Sings Hero’s Swan Song

  1. bhagpuss

    I’m not at all surprised Hero’s Song failed but I am surprised it has closed like this. I imagined it would limp along in a kind of development limbo indefinitely. In a world in which Alganon is still running (it is – I just checked) you’d think just about anything could keep a server up. Although, come to think of it, Hero’s Song didn’t actually *have* a server of its own up, did it? I never did quite figure out how that worked.

    The whole thing never interested me. I strongly dislike the visuals and the mechanics seemed to incorporate many of the unconvincing daydreams that scuppered EQNext. Thinking big is one thing but there’s reality to consider. That said, it’s sad to see Smed flailing and failing like this. It’s like watching an old lion trying to bring down a buffalo and getting trampled instead, lucky even to slink off into the bushes to lick his woulds.

    I used to be quite a Smed supporter, back when he was the pantomime villain of the hobby, but that was based on a lot of assumptions about who was doing what at SOE that recent years have done very little to prove correct. We used to credit Smed with being the organizing genius behind SOE’s portfolio of excellent MMOs but the more I think about it the more I wonder whether his wasn’t in fact the wildly flapping hand of the passenger obscuring the real driver’s view rather than the steady hand on the wheel?

    He’s going to have to come up with something solid next time round, assuming he wants to get back in the game. I wouldn’t put any money on it.


  2. flosch

    I can’t say I’m surprised. Nothing seemed to go according to plan for Hero’s Song, so this is just the end in a row of disappointments – not so muxh from my side, because I never followed the game so much, but for its fans and backers, and especially the employees.

    That being sad, a full refund, if it actually works out, is one the most refreshingly upstandig and decent ways to liquidate a crowd-funded project I’ve seen, and that deserves a lot of respect. I’ll go out on a limb and say you won’t see that from a project like Star Citizen; of course, we’re also talking about humongously different amounts of money in that case, and there’s still a good chance that something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the original promise will ship one day in that case…


  3. SynCaine

    If anything, this shows Kickstarter works as a good filter too. Smed should have seen that when that failed, demand for such a game wasn’t really there, even in full ‘vision’ mode. Going to Early Access just confirmed that, especially in the barely-anything version that it was.


  4. Armagon

    I was not particularly interested in this game and had followed it hardly… But when I read the part about the full refunds in this post I was going “WTF, wow”.

    So yeah, maybe I’m a pessimist but this could’ve ended a lot worse for the people funding it.


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