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‘Only Up’ developer pulls game from Steam due to stress

SCKR Games has pulled Only Up from Steam due to the stress of solo game development.
only up solo game developer

Only Up developer SCKR Games has pulled the viral platformer from Steam permanently, due to the stress of developing and maintaining the game as a solo creator. Only Up was released earlier in 2023, and soon went viral for a number of reasons – largely thanks to its difficult, moreish gameplay, and subsequent popularity on Twitch and other social media platforms.

In Only Up, you are a young teenager looking to escape their life by jumping and climbing across an array of obstacles, which grow stranger and more surreal with every level. There are no save points, and the game gets harder as you play – so it becomes a test of patience and skill as you climb higher. While the game is reportedly buggy, and reviews on performance are decidedly mixed, it became a hit for its level of challenge, and its odd design.

This level of recognition also came with its own challenges – as Only Up quickly became the subject of controversy when it was alleged that one of the assets used in the game was taken from another developer. The game was briefly pulled following this discovery, and then relaunched with this asset removed. Only Up was also the subject of controversy for its seeming promotion of NFTs, as images of Goblintown tokens could be seen in the game.

Read: NFT sales have reportedly declined 92% since 2021

It’s likely these various controversies, paired with the difficulty of maintaining a popular game solo, contributed to the decision of SCKR Games to remove the title from Steam. In a new forum post, the developer has discussed their decision in depth, citing a need to move on.

“I’m a solo developer and this game is my first experience in Gamedev, a game I did for creativity, to test myself, and where I made a lot of mistakes,” SCKR Games posted. “The game has kept me under a lot of stress all these months. Now I want to put the game behind me. And yes. the game won’t be available in the Steam store soon, that’s what I decided myself.”

“What I need now is peace of mind and healing. I plan to take a pause, and continue my education in game design and further with new experience and knowledge to direct my energies to my next game with the working title ‘Kith‘.”

Going forward, SCKR Games will focus on curating a small team for work on this project, in an effort to “significantly improve [their] skills in game design.” There’s no doubt the developer’s experiences on Only Up, and its sudden online popularity, will inform the development of this title.

Only Up has now been officially removed from Steam, with its page listed as “not available” – although details of the game and its viral success remain live, as a reminder of what virality can lead to.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.