Saturday, November 2, 2013

One Month after Amnesia's release

It has now been quite considerably precisely a month considering that we launched Amnesia: The Dark Descent. And considering that the post on a week right after release was really well-liked, we have decided to do a new overview on exactly where we stand now. This time we will mostly concentrate on the sales and give some a lot more accurate figures on how items have turned out for us.

The big image
So, with one particular month of data to analyze, how did issues go? I think it can be summed up with: Better than expected on all accounts! As of these days we have sold a total of 36, 000 units (such as pre-orders, but excluding boxed sales in Russia), and our objective, which would decide if we would continue or not, were 24,000. Getting met and exceeded that purpose currently feels fairly nice. Frictional Games will reside to develop yet another game!

15,000 (41.7%) of all sales had been in the form of pre-orders, which is quite important. Element of the explanation for this is that there was a 20% discount throughout pre-orders and we also think that men and women are much more inclined to buy a pre-order. With perks such as Steam pre-loading, people seem to consider it is worth putting up funds prior to release. And since there is no pirate alternative to a pre-order, it is more probably that folks will go through with the acquire (much more on pirating later). In any case, pre-orders is most likely one thing we will focus on far more for our subsequent title.

Platform specifics
Gathering an precise percentage of sales for Linux turned out to be a bit complicated. Purchases created in our store gets all three platforms, which is the only location to get the Linux version. The total amount of sold units in our own shop is about 5000. Since we can connect some of these sales with steam activations and similar, we can make a conservative estimate of 2500 Windows customers, leaving 2500 left for Mac and Linux. And considering that this this is the only retailer for Linux users, we assume 70% of these are Linux. This means 1750 sold Linux units, or 5% of the total sales.

Mac sales are a bit simpler to estimate, and provided the estimates from above plus some other data, comes to about eight% of the total sales. The intriguing bit here is that just taking the last week into account the quantity of mac sales lie at about 12%. This possibly indicates that the Mac market requires longer to penetrate and that Mac owners may well be far more most likely to purchase an "old" game. Regrettably we do not have information relating to this for Linux, but assume anything comparable occurs there.

Media and user response
As we said in the last post, the response from the media and customers have been overwhelming to say the least. Correct now, we have 86% at Metacritic, 90% from customers on Gamespot, and so on. Considering it is a niche and story primarily based game this feels additional good (which, as Kieron Gillen points out on RPS, generally get reduced meta-scores). We could not be any happier than we are with this response.

So how has this affected the sales? Well it is certainly not possible to say what we would have sold with worse grades, but what we can do is to see what correlations there are in between good testimonials and spikes in sales. It turns out there is fairly considerably none. The only correlation we managed to uncover was with combined release of the Zero punctuation and Gamespot testimonials. These had been out very close in time and nearly quadrupled sales compared to the previous days just before (about 150/day to 600/day). It even appears like this increase nonetheless remains.

Apart from this example, it has not been feasible to find any other correlations. Part of this is probably due to the noisy nature of the data a lot of testimonials come out at the exact same time they overlap and it is not feasible to discern individual contributions. Nonetheless, when articles have been alone in time, there nevertheless have not been any noticeable spikes. One particular explanation is that it might be tough for folks to locate out where the game is purchased, as our site is seldom mentioned in previews/critiques. This is particularly true for the time just before the pre-order became available at the key on-line retailers. One more explanation is that most testimonials have much more of a long term impact, instead of an instant sales increase. What this indicates is that evaluations convince players that currently know about the game to obtain it, as an alternative of acting as a PR catalyst.

What evaluations does do is to make other publications uncover out about you. Receiving a evaluation in a high-status outlet have meant mails from many other publications and convinced other media folk that the game is worth writing about. As a result, as talked about previously, excellent overview aid sales in a long term point of view.

Now it is time to talk about pirating and how this has impacted us. Initial of all, it is really straightforward to see that there are tons of torrents/shared files of Amnesia accessible. When we search the internet to see if any news on Amnesia has popped up, almost 50% of the results go to a pirated version of the game. This is of course tends to make us sad, but it is also anything a single has to deal with when living in today's planet. We are properly aware that the very same technology that enables pirating of our game, is the very same that enabled us develop the game in the first place. With out a quickly World wide web and a connected world we would by no means be in a position to operate collectively or distribute our games. But this does not mean that we need to just ignore piracy and it is critical to figure out what type of impact it has on us.

As I have stated, the sales have been above what we had anticipated, but compared to the response we have gotten it still feels type of low. For instance, the really hyped Minecraft has gotten much more than ten times the sales compared us. Even though being a vastly different game compared to Amnesia, there are some variations that are worth discussing. In terms of the quantity of PR received, I would say that Minecraft is much more nicely identified, but Amnesia is not far behind. Google offers us two times the hits compared to them and a well-known pirate website offers Minecraft double the distributors compared to us. We have gotten far more reviews from popular outlets, Minecraft has gotten a lot more viral-like PR. As I said, I think Minecraft has the upper hand here, but not by that considerably. Still, Minecraft has a more than ten instances the sales compared to Amnesia, which is a massive difference.

Our conclusion is that a huge element of this is due to the lack of pirating in Minecraft compared to us. As I talked about above, Minecraft has 10x the sales, but only 2x the torrent distributors. A Google search on the subject also turns up twice the hits for Amnesia. It appears like far more folks are pirating Amnesia and we believe there are two major motives for this. Each of them are connected to the single-player nature of the expertise.

First of all, once you have played Amnesia there is tiny meaning to play once again. A person pirating the game and finishing it has no genuine explanation to go back. So even if a player likes it and determines that it is well worth paying for, there is no incentive to do so. It is really common to read on forums that people have downloaded a pirated version and say that they will almost certainly get it later. The query right here is how a lot of really does this? Even if you really liked the game and want to help the developers, it fundamentally feels like income down the drain considering that you get absolutely nothing added following paying. This is not the case for a game like Minecraft exactly where far more content material is released all the time and the game is created to be extremely replayable (and darn it for that, damn time customer!).

The second reason is the lack of any suitable protection. Not only does Amnesia not have any real protection from the begin, there is almost no way for us to force folks into getting ad-hoc. What we can do is to release patches, but this only influence individuals that have not been in a position to start the game, a modest element of the user base. So as soon as the game is out we are fundamentally screwed and we can not do a lot to make individuals chose a legal over a pirated one particular. Minecraft demands a server connection and is continually updated, properly pushing men and women towards buying the legit version.

So what to do about this? One way is to produce diverse kinds of games, exactly where we can implement these sort of issues. But that just feels incorrect. A developer must not style a game primarily based on how it can be protected and carrying out so can only lead to bad things for our games (to avoid feeding potential flames this is primarily based on what we want to do with our games, not what we believe of other people who may well do this). What we want to continue undertaking is to develop single player games that attempt to evolve the way in which videogames inform stories and evoke feelings. Yet another selection is to expand our horizons and try other platforms. This is what we are at present seeking into. We do not know what this will mean as of but, but hopefully we can continue to expand platforms and not limit them.

Our situation
So what does all this income talk imply for Frictional Games as a business? The most optimistic news is that we have recouped all expenditures from creating Amnesia. This is of course great, but it wants to be taken into account that we worked extended days at a extremely low salary, utilizing minimal expenditures. Our subsequent game will not be possible to do on a price range like that.

For the group, it is now ultimately back to a lot more typical salaries. This still means that we are paid under, or just at, minimum wage (there is not an actual minimum specified by law, we just mean according to standards) right here in Sweden though. We have created some calculations and if we were to increase salaries to normal levels, our present earnings would only last for a year and a half at most. We estimate that it will take at least two years to total our upcoming game and there are more costs involved than salaries for the 5 team members (verify the credits for Amnesia!). So right now, we have to stick to possessing low salaries and see how sales pan out.

At the time of writing our day-to-day sales are at about 350 units, but it fluctuates fairly a bit and it is tough to see how it will be in the lengthy term. I said in the earlier post that the sales had been dropping drastically, but this actually stopped a day or so right after posting. Our hope is that it will end up at around 70 per day, as this implies that the day-to-day sales would cover monthly salary fees. The income earned at launch could then be utilized for other expenditures and maybe aid us attain more common wages. Really tough to say when a steady level will been reached although. For the Penumbra games it occurred two weeks or so after release, but PR for Amnesia is still pouring in, so we assume at least one more month.

Final thoughts
Hopefully this post has give some kind of insight into sales for a Pc game and exactly where Frictional Games stand now. We are really satisfied how Amnesia have turned out in all ways. Although sales could have been much better, folks are nonetheless purchasing it and will hopefully continue to. If it stabilizes at a good level, issues are searching extremely vibrant certainly.

We also really feel that we ultimately can leave Amnesia behind us and begin focusing on our next project rather. As this will be our first project where we know from the begin that we can finance it ourselves, it will be really interesting to see what can be completed. In all our prior games, we have largely rushed through the production. This is will be the very first time we can take our time and make certain that all is the way we want it to.

Fascinating instances lie ahead and we hope you all will stick to us into the future as well!

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