New free indie pc game Stealth Bastard has picked up 15,000 users since its release on Friday, creator Curve Studios has said.
Independent outfit Curve said the game was made completely free to download as it had been “an out–of-hours pet project”, rather than a commercial one.
However, Ed Fear, producer at the London studio, said the game can also help raise Curve’s profile as well as its other games.
“We just wanted to get it out there, the biggest barrier to anybody experiencing anything is they have to pay for it,” Fear said.
“We also wanted to use it as an advert for Explodemon. In the game when you quit, there’s an advert for the fact that we have this other game out.”
Curve Studios describes Stealth Bastard – a 2D platformer – as “Metal Gear Solid meets Super Meat Boy”, in which players must jump and sneak their way through 28 levels.
Fear said that the game has helped build up the studio’s profile by increasing its Twitter followers and promoting other things it does, which would not have happened with a price barrier.
“There was a point when we could have commercialised it, but we decided that building a community and engaging people was actually more valuable to us in the long run than a small amount of money now,” said Fear.
He added: “We’ve had a lot of people commenting on twitter of people saying ‘I would have paid $5-10 for this’, and saying ‘please can I donate some money to you guys’, which is really nice and is an indication of how good the PC indie community is.”
He said that as a result the developer will probably add a donate button to its website soon.
Although it’s early days, Fear said if the game is successful and proves popular, the developer has tentative plans to take the project further and make it into a full game, which could be monetised and may even use the model as a basis for future titles.
“It's hard to say now, but if the game is successful it's something we could do again,” he said.
Fear said that the concept of free games is something the industry is becoming more accustomed to and this is something the industry as a whole could see more of.
“The industry is coming round to the concept of giving things away for free then monetising them later,” he said.
“Yes, it's an experiment, that’s exactly what it is, but it’s a thing that people are going to be experimenting with more and more and I’m just really glad we’re doing that.”