Earlier this week, a third-party support site for Kerbal Space Program and its modding community revealed that it is closing its doors. The site known as KerbalStuff was known for housing a large number of KSP mods and was popular with many of the game's users, particularly those that did not care for developer Squad's adoption of the Curse network as its official mod database.
"I built Kerbal Stuff after the announcement that KSP mods were to be officially moved to Curse," reads the closing statement from site owner Drew 'SirCmpwn' DeVault on the KerbalStuff homepage. "At the time, and still today, I did not feel that Curse would do right by the kommunity. I stepped up to build an alternative that would be much better than the mess Curse would provide. I built Kerbal Stuff to do right by the kommunity where Squad wouldn't."
The statement goes into several reasons why DeVault opted to close the site, with the primary reason being the increasing monthly costs of running a website of this size and hosting that many files. However, DeVault also aired some grievances with Squad for its lack of support, as well as towards the KSP user base for what was interpreted as a negative attitude.
"Undoubtedly Kerbal Stuff has had a direct impact on Squad's revenue - how many players must have hopped back into Kerbal Space Program after getting an email about their favorite mod receiving an update? In the past month, despite frequent downtime and slow page loads, Kerbal Stuff has served 1.2 million page views over 279 thousand sessions for over 84 thousand unique visitors.
"As thanks, Squad continues to endorse Curse as the official source for KSP mods. They refuse to even mention Kerbal Stuff in public. During the early days, they even tried to have the name changed to omit the word 'Kerbal', citing a trademark that didn't exist (they later registered the trademark).
Even setting Squad aside, running Kerbal Stuff is a largely thankless job. In fact, for the most part, I just hear complaints. Most people don't actually care about the effort put into it. Whenever I've taken the time to add features or make improvements or meet the requests of users, no one has shown any appreciation. I stopped volunteering my time and energy to extend this website, because my efforts were always met with silence or complaints."
Today, developer Squad issued an official response to KerbalStuff's closure. While the staff thanked DeVault for his work and his efforts, it also responded to some of the allegations that he had lobbed in Squad's direction. Most notably, Squad denied any threat of legal action.
"Firstly, we were blamed for continuing to support Curse as the official mod repository, in spite of KerbalStuff hosting more mods," reads the official statement. "The reason for this lies in the history of the website’s creation: it was developed specifically to be an unofficial, independent alternative to the official mod repository. Curse provided, and still provides, a stable platform for uploading mods and other ingame content, and we have no reason to end our partnership with them. Because of those two arguments, we never explored the possibility of making KerbalStuff the 'official' mod repository. At this time similar arguments can be made for other community initiatives, such as KerbalX, CKAN or the KSP Subreddit.
"Related to KerbalStuff not being an official website, we were blamed for never mentioning KerbalStuff in public. Although we did not link to KerbalStuff from the game's launcher, Kerbal Space Program itself or our websites, we did often talk about it in community conversations, forum posts, and on social media. We never actively promoted the website, but we feel we certainly didn't ignore it. Many people who work for Squad have expressed their fondness of the website, and the developers who work on the game sometimes also had mods on the website.
"Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, was the accusation that we threatened the website with legal action. We would like to stress that no such thing happened. Back in 2014 when the website was being developed we were in the process of acquiring a trademark on the word Kerbal, and part of the obligations one has as a trademark holder is to investigate possible infringements of your trademark. Failure to do so may invalidate the trademark entirely at a later point. To this end we talked to the people behind Kerbalstuff to determine what the website was going to be, and several scenarios were discussed briefly including possibly renaming KerbalStuff. As it was to be a non-commercial community website it quickly became clear that no legal action was warranted against KerbalStuff, and we never pursued legal action against Kerbalstuff or any other community website for using the phrase Kerbal in its name. We're thankful that Sircmpwn has since retracted this part of the statement from the Kerbalstuff website, but we've received a lot of questions about it."
The KSP community has banded together on the KSP subreddit to lament the loss of KerbalStuff, citing their own displeasure with Curse. As of now, several of its posters have volunteered to revive KerbalStuff in some fashion. There's even a browsable dump of KerbalStuff here, courtesy of user Jattenalle. And as Squad's statement has indicated, there appears to be progress on that front.