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Drag-themed fighting game Drag Her! ends development

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Los Angeles-area developer Fighting Chance Games has announced that it is ceasing development on Drag Her!, a classic fighting game featuring a roster of popular drag queens like Alaska 5000, Kim Chi, and BenDeLaCreme. The team had previously raised a modest $75,000 on Kickstarter to fund development.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), the studio said it made the “painful decision” to stop work on the game after three years for a simple reason: the team ran out of funding.

“Over the life of this project, we have pitched to a long list of publishers, platforms, and more looking to get Drag Her! picked up,” the team said in a statement. Despite the successful Kickstarter and a number of grant applications, and positive fan reception online and at events, “no amount of legitimacy we built has culminated in a deal.”

In a bid to make sure at least some part of the game makes it to the hands of players, Fighting Chance Games is releasing a “Failure to Launch” edition for free on Steam. It will only feature three of the seven playable queens who had granted permission to use their likenesses.

Why couldn’t a drag-themed game get funding?

The cancellation is surprising because the game was featured prominently in the Day of the Devs events at the 2023 Game Awards and 2024 Game Developers Conference. It’s worrisome that even with such support, a studio might need to shut down its game before launching.

But what’s also disheartening is that a game designed to be a “killer piece of gay media” couldn’t find funding in an era where its subject, drag queens, is growing more popular each year. The RuPaul’s Drag Race reality competition franchise (where almost all of the playable queens became minor celebrities) has expanded across the globe, and drag-themed events have become far more mainstream.

It’s possible the overlap between fans of drag and fighting games wasn’t as strong as the developers hoped. Other upstart fighting games like Them’s Fightin’ Herds have wound down development after being unable to find financial footing in a market dominated by series like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat.

It’s also been a brutal year for the video game industry, with developers of all shapes and sizes reporting reduced funding opportunities and struggling with thousands of layoffs.

But this cancellation is also happening in an era where drag performances are facing a wave of right-wing backlash in the United States and United Kingdom. If possible financial partners were reluctant to pick up the project because of that backlash, then the bigoted organizers of bans on drag will have succeeded at their goal: forcing artists from LGBTQ backgrounds into the margins of society.

Game Developer and Game Developers Conference are sibling organizations under Informa Tech.

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