What Is Will Smith’s Zombie Video Game ‘Undawn’? Why Did No One Hear About This Game, Until It Failed?

“Undawn” is an open-world zombie survival shooter that was launched in June 2023, featuring Will Smith in a prominent role. The game was developed by Tencent with a budget of nearly $140 million but only managed to earn back around $287,000.

With over two million pre-registrations, the game failed primarily due to insufficient marketing and its inability to stand out in a crowded market of zombie-themed games, resulting in low player engagement and awareness.

The Rise and Fall of ‘Undawn’: A Lesson in Video Game Marketing

In the ever-evolving landscape of video games, the name ‘Undawn’ briefly flickered across the screens of gamers worldwide. Developed by Lightspeed Studios and backed by the star power of Will Smith, ‘Undawn’ promised to be a groundbreaking zombie survival game set in a post-apocalyptic world. Despite the hype, the game’s journey from anticipation to obscurity serves as a cautionary tale in the gaming industry.

A Star-Studded Launch That Fizzled Out

‘Undawn’ made headlines with its announcement, featuring the digital likeness of Will Smith as Trey Jones, a guide through the game’s treacherous terrain. The launch was met with fanfare, and the expectations were sky-high. However, the game struggled to gain traction post-release. According to reports, ‘Undawn’ generated a mere $287,000 in revenue last month, a far cry from its substantial development budget1.

Where Did ‘Undawn’ Go Wrong?

So, where did things go wrong with “Undawn”?

For starters, despite a flurry of pre-launch hype, including Will Smith’s charm, the game appeared to vanish into thin air after launch. “I promoted ‘Undawn’ in a trailer that was too good to be true,” Will Smith might have said candidly about the game’s promotion.

However, after its release, the game gathered more dust than players, grossing only $287,000 against a whopping $140 million budget.

The game’s title, “Undawn,” may have been its first stumble—too similar to other zombie titles and not catchy enough to stick.

Several factors contributed to the game’s downfall. Despite Will Smith’s involvement, ‘Undawn’ failed to create a lasting impression. The game’s marketing strategy lacked the necessary outreach to maintain momentum after its initial launch. Additionally, the gameplay experience didn’t resonate with the target audience, leading to a swift decline in user engagement.

The Future of Gaming: Lessons Learned

The story of ‘Undawn’ is not just about a game that didn’t meet expectations; it’s about understanding the gaming community’s needs.

As the industry shifts towards casual and party games, developers must adapt to changing preferences. The focus should be on creating engaging content that captures the imagination of players, rather than relying solely on celebrity endorsements.


‘Undawn’s’ journey is a reminder that success in the gaming world is not guaranteed by big names or big budgets. It requires a deep understanding of the market, player expectations, and a solid marketing strategy. As the industry continues to grow, ‘Undawn’ will be remembered as a game that had the potential but ultimately served as a lesson for future developers.

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