Them’s Fightin’ Herds to end active development without finishing story mode

Four-legged beat ’em up Them’s Fightin’ Herds has had quite the journey, having begun life as an unofficial My Little Pony fangame before becoming a legally distinct and well-liked fighter via crowdfunding and Early Access.

Now that journey seems to be an end. News of a patch and some DLC characters earlier this week came alongside the news that these updates would the game’s last – meaning that an in-progress story mode will never be completed and certain crowdfunded rewards will never be delivered.

“After the Season 1 Pass is complete, we will be ceasing active development on TFH. We will still be able to release small patches to address game-breaking bugs, but no new content will be produced. Unfortunately, that includes Story Mode,” says the announcement.

“Story Mode has always been an ambitious feature and one we truly desired to implement. We know how much our fans have been looking forward to Story Mode chapters, and we hope you understand how much we looked forward to working on and releasing them.

“We are looking for opportunities to release content that has already been produced for Chapter 2, starting with a new stage, ‘Restricted Section’. This stage will be a part of the version 6.0 update alongside [DLC characters] Nidra and Baihe,” says the post.

“For any outstanding items related to our original Indiegogo crowdfund, this shift in development does mean we will need to adjust some of our originally planned perks. More information on this will be shared in the coming weeks via email and on our Indiegogo channel.”

Chapter one of Them’s Fightin’ Herds story mode is available in the game, and at the time of writing the game’s Steam store page still states that “Additional chapters are in development and will be released as free updates.” That’s obviously no longer the case.

Recent reviews on Steam have taken an inevitable tumble, with a “Mostly Negative” rating for the past 30 days versus Very Positive overall. Many of the recent negative reviews criticise Mane6 for announcing the end of development in a short number of paragraphs at the bottom of a post that’s otherwise about some DLC characters.

Them’s Fightin’ Herds launched on Indiegogo in 2015 and was driven towards success by the involvement of Lauren Faust, the creator of My Litte Pony: Friendship Is Magic, as the game’s character designer. It launched into Steam Early Access in 2018 and then received a full release in 2020.

I’m sympathetic towards developers who bite off more than they can chew, especially in instances where sales have dried up, the playerbase has moved on, but they’re still working on extra features for a by-now tiny audience. Still – this probably wasn’t the way to deliver the news to the loyal paying players who are still around.