The fate of 91Act, a Chinese studio behind the new action roguelike BlazBlue Entropy Effect, has taken an unexpected turn. The studio’s head had to lay off the entire staff due to financial issues, but now he has decided to start rehiring devs after the game’s sudden success.

Chinese studio 91Act reborn just weeks after disbanding entire team due to financial struggles

Reports of 91Act’s resurrection came from several Chinese media outlets earlier this week, with a great summary from Niko Partners’ Daniel Ahmad.

  • On January 31, 91Act released version 1.0 of BlazBlue Entropy Effect, an action roguelike based on the famous Arc System Works’ IP that has been in Early Access since August 2023.
  • Shortly after its global launch, the game received many negative reviews, with players complaining about laggy multiplayer and saying that the 1.0 build was much worse in terms of gameplay mechanics and progression.
  • As a result, BlazBlue Entropy Effect’s user reviews on Steam plummeted to around 70% positive, indicating a “Mostly Positive” rating.

Red bars show negative reviews left at BlazBlue Entropy Effect’s 1.0 launch

  • On February 5, 91Act CEO Jiang Lei announced a tough decision to lay off all employees. According to Ahmad, he said the studio “did not have sufficient funds to keep operating after investors had pulled out and because of late payments for their recent titles.”
  • Lei remained the sole employee at the company and even had to remortgage his property to cover salaries and severance packages.
  • As reported by ChuApp, some developers expressed their desire to stay on the team on a voluntarily basis, as they wanted to further update and support BlazBlue Entropy Effect.
  • Despite the sad news, Lei noticed that the game crossed 300k units sold. At the same time, user reviews were also getting better.

After disbanding the team, Lei didn’t have an artist available to make a celebratory post, so he made a simple white picture announcing the 300k milestone

  • He couldn’t explain the sudden spike in interest, saying that the game itself was good enough and perhaps the whole situation “resonated with the players, so they expressed their support in their own way.” Some users noted that they were very touched by Lei’s live broadcasts, where he discussed the unpleasant events.
  • “In just a few days, the team has undergone drastic changes, and in an instant, I was the only one left in the production team,” Lei wrote on February 10, adding that he will try his best to rebuild the studio and continue working on Entropy Effect.
  • After the Chinese New Year holidays, he realized that revenue from the game was enough to continue the operation of 91Act. The only issue was that after disbanding the team due to previous financial struggles, Lei could no longer provide the team with the same salary. But he still decided to try and resurrect the studio.
  • Last week, BlazBlue Entropy Effect surpassed 350k units sold. On February 26, Lei also started rehiring former developers who wanted to stay on the team at lower wages. It is also unclear how many people have returned to the studio.
  • In a video on Chinese social media, the team called themselves 91Act 2.0, with Lei saying that “everyone will go through a very uncertain start-up stage, and then rely on the resources accumulated from the start-up to build future products.”
  • BlazBlue Entropy Effect currently has a 91% rating on Steam based on over 5,300 user reviews left in the last 30 days. In addition, the game recently received a license from the National Press and Public Administration to launch in mainland China, which could also boost its sales.

Based in Chengdu, China, 91Act was founded in 2014 with a focus on working with Japanese publishers. The studio has worked with Arc System Works and SEGA on games based on the BlazBlue and Dengeki Bunko franchises. According to Ahmad, it also partnered with DeNA and Kadokawa to make a project based on one of Kadokawa’s IPs.

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