The creator of indie darling Gunpoint has revealed their latest game Heat Signature (pictured), which released digitally on Steam last Thursday, has had a better launch week than its debut game.
Heat Signature has been in development for three and a half years and has cost 200,000 to make, developer Tom Francis wrote on his blog, "making it probably the biggest risk" of his career. Fortunately, the gamble has paid off, as shown by its very positive reception by the worldwide gaming press.
"I knew I wouldn’t have another Gunpoint-size success – that came out in the sweet spot for indie, when demand was high and supply was low," said Francis. "So my best-case-scenario was to do half as well as Gunpoint did in the same timeframe.
"It’s donebetterthan Gunpoint. Not by much, and it’s too soon to know if it’ll have the same long-tail Gunpoint did, but so far it really is a Gunpoint-size success. We hit #1 on Steam on launch day, and stayed in the top 10 for most of the week. Thank you so much to everyone who bought it and spread the word, and to everyone who’s left such lovely reviews. This was a huge gamble and I’m so relieved and grateful and frankly surprised it paid off.
"Now I’m in a state of simultaneously needing a) a break, b) to catch up on a backlog of urgent things I let slide during development, and c) to tweak the game in response to feedback. But I’m happy to be doing all that in the aftermath of a success, rather than eg. the shadow of a massive financial disaster. So thank you for that!"
Heat Signature isn’t the only Steam release to come out in the last few months by a high-profile indie dev from the platform’s early days, but at least Francis gave fans a bit more notice than Thomas Was Alone’s Mike Bithell did with Subsurface Circular, which released in August on Steam with a single tweet.
The difference between their releases, however, couldn’t shed a brighter light on the importance of marketing. According to SteamSpy, Subsurface Circular is currently estimated to have around 7,400 owners, while Heat Signature is sitting on almost 44,000. Of course, Heat Signature’s procedurally generated space theme is arguably more mainstream than Subsurface’s sci-fi text adventure, but it nevertheless paints a stark picture about how getting the word out about your game before release can affect initial sales.
As Francis himself points out, it will be interesting to see if Heat Signature has the same long-term appeal as Gunpoint, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on its progress over the coming months.