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Skybound cancels all versions of troubled Overkill's The Walking Dead

UPDATE: Starbreeze says it's in talks to release season two.

UPDATE 27 FEBRUARY 2019: Starbreeze has said Overkill's The Walking Dead will be removed from Steam "within a near future".

It added it's in talks with Skybound to try to find a way for the embattled company to release season two of the game, which had been promised to players and indeed had been included with the Deluxe version of the game.

"We are deeply sorry for the issues this may cause anyone who has bought the game looking forward to the resolution of Season 2 and are working urgently to attempt to resolve the issue," said acting Starbreeze CEO Mikael Nermark. "Please keep an eye on the official OTWD channels for further news."

For the inside story of what happened with Overkill's The Walking Dead, check out our in-depth investigate, The fall of Starbreeze.

ORIGINAL STORY 26 FEBRUARY 2019: Skybound Entertainment, which owns the rights to The Walking Dead franchise, has announced that it has terminated its contract with Starbreeze Studios and that all work on Overkills's The Walking Dead will cease.

Overkill's The Walking Dead, much like the developer's Payday series, was designed to evolve and expand over time, through regular content episodes. Unfortunately, the co-op shooter's core was far from impressive when it launched on PC last year, with Eurogamer contributor Vikki Blake calling the experience, "as sluggish and forgettable as the walkers themselves".

Following the game's disastrous launch and lower than expected sales, Starbreeze announced that it was embarking on a cost-cutting drive, and CEO Bo Andersson was fired by the company's board of directors. Then, in January, Starbreeze - reportedly £34 million in debt at the time - confirmed it would be postponing the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 release of Overkill's The Walking Dead, and that the game would no longer launch in February.

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Things took an odd turn last week, however, when Sony began issuing refunds to those that had pre-ordered the game through the PlayStation Store. In its note to customers, Sony claimed that Overkill's The Walking Dead had been cancelled by 505 Games, the publisher of Overkill's The Walking Dead on consoles - despite 505 remaining adamant in its own statement that the game was still heading to Xbox One and PS4.

All of which brings us to the present, and the cancellation announcement by Skybound Games - the company established by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, and the rights owner of the franchise. "As of today," it wrote, "we have terminated our contract with Starbreeze Studios and will discontinue all efforts on Overkill's The Walking Dead."

Explaining its decision in more detail, the company said, "Our creators and their stories are the core of Skybound, and since 2014 we have worked hard to expand the world of The Walking Dead into an exceptional Co-op Action FPS. We did our best to work with Starbreeze and resolve many issues that we saw with the game, but ultimately Overkill's The Walking Dead did not meet our standards nor is it the quality that we were promised."

It's currently unclear how this news will affect the already released PC version of Overkill's The Walking Dead, particularly as many players opted to purchase the Deluxe version of the game, promising nine episode of "Season 2" content between November 2018 and June this year. It's possible that work on this additional content is already complete and will be supplied to those that purchased it; it's equally possible that full or partial refunds may be incoming, although Skybound is yet to comment on the matter.

"We are exceedingly sorry to our fans and share their disappointment in the game," it concluded. "We remain dedicated to providing our fans with the most premium quality content we can offer, and will continue to look for alternative video game options for the IP."