About Spiral Knights being bought by Grey Havens

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 by spiralspy

So, Spiral Knights finally left the clutches of SEGA. Fundamentally, I think that’s a good thing, but it makes you think about a couple of issues.

Who is Grey Havens LLC? First of all, LLC stands for Limited Liability Company. In a nutshell, it’s a low cost legal body you (=a private business owner) use to shield yourself against any juridical unpleasantnesses. In particular: customers suing you for damages and going bankrupt. There isn’t a lot of public record on the internet about Grey Havens, except that it is owned by Michael Bayne, one of OOO’s original founders and appears to exist to sponge up old OOO projects out of nostalgia. Beyond that it appears to be a letterbox company.

The good news here is that Michael obviously cares enough to keep the servers running. The bad news is that Grey Havens is likely just  that: a preservation project.

Why would SEGA sell to Grey Havens? My best guess is that all the “updates” we have been seen on SK after OOO was acquired have just been shelved patches. SEGA never invested in development and by now simply ran out of premade content. For them, Spiral Knights was just IP content with a fixed acquisition cost, a ton of (back then) unpublished material and a revenue forecast for each promo bundle. Now, the game no longer meets the forecast (either because there really is no more unpublished material or because not enough people are buying into cosmetics any longer), is therefore no longer profitable (read: able to support a full staff and producing a surplus) and needs to be gotten rid of before turning into a loss. In other words, for SEGA, it was only ever about milking the customer base of an existing product without having to spend any money on research and development. Selling the smoldering remains is just an exit strategy to avoid having to do any cleanup. Let’s be very clear about this last part: SEGA could not have shut down Spiral Knights itself without risking being dragged to court by customers who spent thousands of dollars on virtual bling. If Grey Havens hadn’t bought the game, then  SEGA would have likely created a shell company of it’s own to act as the fall guy. See the purpose of a LLC now? I wouldn’t actually be too surprised if SEGA even payed for the game being “bought” (and thats not a bad thing either if the money goes to funding  the servers).

Is there a silver lining at the horizon? Certainly! We can probably not expect any new gameplay elements, but at least we are out of the limbo for the foreseeable future and with a bit of luck the shameless money grabbing (promo boxes) will finally stop. A smart move would probably to put desirable promo items into featured auctions and regular supply depot sales to drain excess wealth. Eventually we might be able to just finance the game through energy sales.