After the barrage of sad tales about depression caused by indies turning into millionaires overnight, allow us to raise your spirits with a story about the liberating and energizing effects of complete commercial failure.”
That's the opening to an update from Belgium-based developer Tale of Tales, which having released its most recent title Sunset last month has said it is now quitting game development.
We spent more money than we had on the production of Sunset. Because we wanted to make it really good and reach a wider audience,” it went on to say. Compared to the ambitions we had for the game, the extra $40,000 seemed like a relatively small sum. ‘Surely we can make that amount back in the first month of sales?'
We were wrong. So far a little over 4,000 copies of Sunset have changed hands. That includes the copies for our backers on Kickstarter. That includes the sale. There's barely enough income to keep our company going while we look for ways to raise the funds to pay back our debts.'
The game has reviewed pretty well, including a 9/10 in Edge – but this seems to have merely increased the studio's sense of despair.
It's hard to deal with this intense feeling of disappointment in a context of glowing reviews and compliments and encouragement from players,” it added. A small group of people clearly deeply appreciates what we do and we curse the economic system that doesn't allow us to be pleased with that.
We spent a lot of money on a PR company who got us plenty of press, took some work and worries off our shoulders, and found us other marketing opportunities. But it didn't help sales one bit. We even took out an advertisement on Rock, Paper, Shotgun, where we figured the people most interested in Sunset would be gathered. They must all use AdBlock because that had no effect whatsoever.
We are happy and proud that we have tried to make a ‘game for gamers'. We really did our best with Sunset, our very best. And we failed. So that's one thing we never need to do again. Creativity still burns wildly in our hearts but we don't think we will be making videogames after this. And if we do, definitely not commercial ones.”
These sentiments echo what is a growing air of discontent among indie game developers, most of whom are concerned about the increasing difficulty of getting their game noticed on Steam due to the vastly increasing numbers of titles flooding the service.