Sports Interactive says it has been forced to abandon its Eastside Hockey Manager series due to mounting piracy.
That's according to managing director Miles Jacobson, who explained the situation in a forum post this afternoon as the developer posted the game's final patch.
Despite strong reviews, SI discovered that sales simply weren't picking up, even in Scandinavia where the first game was strongest.
"The sales in Scandinavia, that had pretty much kept the game going, dropped heavily, from our analysis of the situation, mainly due to the game getting hacked before release, and pirated," Jacobson explained.
SI opted for digital distribution instead of a boxed release, but the expected sales didn't pick up. "The forums were full of people constructively criticising, and praising (just the way we like it) and we were all pretty buoyant.
"We had more licences than any other hockey game in history, it was the best Hockey management game in the history of gaming ever, and Riz and his team had done an amazing job. So, despite Hockey being a bit less popular post the hiatus of the sport in the US in 2004, we still couldn't fail, right?
"Wrong. The orders came in a drizzle, rather than a flood. We scratched our heads trying to work out what had gone wrong. And then someone pointed out that the game was being pirated, and was available as a torrent from lots of different pirating sites. Then we sat there and watched as the claimed amount of downloads on those sites went up and up, as sales stayed static.
"Basically, the game did not bring in enough money to cover the development costs, let alone the license fees on top of that. So we've had to make the decision to stop development on the game for now - it doesn't mean that it'll never come back, but for the foreseeable future, there will not be another version of Eastside Hockey Manager."
There is an upside though, as Jacobson adds that all of the people working on the Eastside series have relocated to other projects within the company.
"Thank you to all of you out there who supported the Eastside Hockey Manager project by buying the game, and especially those who helped with testing and research.
"And to those of you who pirated it, this is what happens when you steal. There are no excuses you can give that are valid for stealing - you have lead to the demise of a game that you enjoyed playing," Jacobson concluded.