Stone Blade to crowdfund a new Ascension Online (UPDATED)

This post has been updated since it originally went up – scroll to the bottom to see updates. The original post was based on press materials sent out by Stone Blade that erroneously referred to a new free-to-play version of Ascension for iOS.
I'm losing my favourite game?

Ascension unchained?

Stone Blade Entertainment has been in touch with some potentially boat-rocking news. After their success last year with the Kickstarter for digital CCG SolForge, The House That Justin Gary Built is returning with a new crowdsourcing pitch. This time it’s for the game they made their bones with back in 2010: Ascension.

Stone Blade will be launching a ten-day long Kickstarter on 18 February – a short window to raise money in, and they’ve not disclosed how much they’ll be looking for. The goals of this new campaign are to bring Ascension to Android and PC as a free-to-play app – but interestingly, their press materials also talk about a free-to-play iOS app.

What does this mean for Playdek’s universally-beloved Ascension for iOS? I asked Stone Blade to clarify this, but they haven’t gotten back to me yet. An industry source outside of Stone Blade did confirm that some changes are coming.

If Stone Blade is going to pull Playdek’s Ascension for one that they’re developing in-house, it would go a long ways towards explaining why new promo cards released for the physical version of the game haven’t made their way to the iOS version – and why the Immortal Heroes expansion hasn’t even been announced for digital.

Built by PT‘s 2012 Publisher of the Year, Ascension is the gold standard for async multiplayer games on mobile and has a vibrant player base almost two years post-launch. Stone Blade are going to have their work cut out for them if they want to replace it with something of the same quality.

I’ll let you know what else Stone Blade have got to say when they get back to me.

UPDATE: No further word from Stone Blade just yet, but a comment made on the Ascension Facebook page says the following:

We will still be working with Playdek to release Immortal Heroes on iOS and to ensure iOS gets continuing support[.]

In the absence of a definitive statement from Stone Blade, there’s a couple of ways to parse that one. Will the existing Playdek iOS app live side-by-side with Stone Blade’s new Android app? Or will Playdek have some role in creating a new standalone Immortal Heroes app? We’ll keep our ears to the ground.

Hat-tip to Seqiro.

UPDATE 2: Justin Gary himself (the designer of Ascension) drops by PT to comment:

Hey All! We are going to continue to support iOS fans and work with Playdek to keep generating new content. Don’t worry about “free to play” – we just mean that Chronicle of the Godslayer (the base set) will be free to download and play. You can still buy expansions as normal. We are also going to add cool new features like tournaments and a campaign mode to give more options to play. We are working hard to make sure this is nothing but upside for our fans!

We’ve learned a lot while making Solforge and feel confident in our ability to deliver a 10/10 quality product in a reasonable timeline with a little help from fans to kickstart the project.

UPDATE 3: A Stone Blade spokesperson reached out to clarify the statement they released earlier today. Ascension for iOS will continue to be a paid app and will be supported by Playdek – only the new PC and Android editions will be free to download. That seems pretty unequivocal that Playdek’s iOS version of Ascension is here to stay, and I’ve amended the post title to reflect that. Whew.

Now let’s all have a nightcap and play some Ascension.

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