Friday, 8 October 2010

One Month after Amnesia's release

Introduction
It has now been pretty much exactly a month since we launched Amnesia: The Dark Descent. And since the post on a week after release was quite popular, we have decided to do a new overview on where we stand now. This time we will mainly focus on the sales and give some more accurate figures on how things have turned out for us.


The big picture
So, with one month of data to analyze, how did things go? I think it can be summed up with: Better than expected on all accounts! As of today we have sold a total of 36, 000 units (including pre-orders, but excluding boxed sales in Russia), and our goal, which would determine if we would continue or not, were 24,000. Having met and exceeded that goal already feels quite nice. Frictional Games will live to create another game!

15,000 (41.7%) of all sales were in the form of pre-orders, which is quite significant. Part of the explanation for this is that there was a 20% discount during pre-orders and we also believe that people are more inclined to buy a pre-order. With perks such as Steam pre-loading, people seem to think it is worth putting up money before release. And since there is no pirate alternative to a pre-order, it is more likely that people will go through with the purchase (more on pirating later). In any case, pre-orders is probably something we will focus on more for our next title.


Platform specifics
Gathering an exact percentage of sales for Linux turned out to be a bit complicated. Purchases made in our store gets all three platforms, which is the only place to get the Linux version. The total amount of sold units in our own store 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 users, leaving 2500 left for Mac and Linux. And since this this is the only store 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 given the estimates from above plus some other data, comes to about 8% of the total sales. The interesting bit here is that just taking the last week into account the amount of mac sales lie at about 12%. This probably means that the Mac market takes longer to penetrate and that Mac owners might be more likely to buy an "old" game. Unfortunately we do not have data regarding this for Linux, but assume something similar happens there.


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

So how has this affected the sales? Well it is obviously impossible to say what we would have sold with worse grades, but what we can do is to see what correlations there are between positive reviews and spikes in sales. It turns out there is pretty much none. The only correlation we managed to find was with combined release of the Zero punctuation and Gamespot reviews. These were out very close in time and almost quadrupled sales compared to the previous days before (about 150/day to 600/day). It even seems like this boost still remains.

Apart from this example, it has not been possible to find any other correlations. Part of this is probably due to the noisy nature of the data; many reviews come out at the same time they overlap and it is not possible to discern individual contributions. However, when articles have been alone in time, there still have not been any noticeable spikes. One explanation is that it might be hard for people to find out where the game is bought, as our website is seldom mentioned in previews/reviews. This is especially true for the time before the pre-order became available at the major online retailers. Another explanation is that most reviews have more of a long term effect, instead of an instant sales boost. What this means is that reviews convince players that already know about the game to purchase it, instead of acting as a PR catalyst.

What reviews does do is to make other publications find out about you. Getting a review in a high-status outlet have meant mails from many other publications and convinced other media folk that the game is worth writing about. Thus, as mentioned previously, good review help sales in a long term perspective.


Pirating
Now it is time to discuss pirating and how this has affected us. First of all, it is quite easy to see that there are tons of torrents/shared files of Amnesia available. When we search the web 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 makes us sad, but it is also something one has to deal with when living in today's world. We are well aware that the same technology that allows pirating of our game, is the same that enabled us create the game in the first place. Without a fast Internet and a connected world we would never be able to work together or distribute our games. But this does not mean that we should just ignore piracy and it is important to figure out what kind of impact it has on us.

As I have said, the sales have been above what we had expected, but compared to the response we have gotten it still feels kind of low. For example, the very hyped Minecraft has gotten more than ten times the sales compared us. While being a vastly different game compared to Amnesia, there are some differences that are worth discussing. In terms of the amount of PR received, I would say that Minecraft is more well known, but Amnesia is not far behind. Google gives us two times the hits compared to them and a popular pirate site gives Minecraft double the distributors compared to us. We have gotten more reviews from popular outlets, Minecraft has gotten more viral-like PR. As I said, I think Minecraft has the upper hand here, but not by that much. Still, Minecraft has a over ten times the sales compared to Amnesia, which is a huge difference.

Our conclusion is that a large part of this is due to the lack of pirating in Minecraft compared to us. As I mentioned 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 seems like more people are pirating Amnesia and we think there are two main reasons for this. Both of them are related to the single-player nature of the experience.

First of all, once you have played Amnesia there is little meaning to play again. A person pirating the game and finishing it has no real reason 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 quite common to read on forums that people have downloaded a pirated version and say that they will probably buy it later. The question here is how many actually does this? Even if you really liked the game and want to support the developers, it basically feels like money down the drain since you get nothing extra after paying. This is not the case for a game like Minecraft where more content is released all the time and the game is designed to be highly replayable (and darn it for that, damn time consumer!).

The second reason is the lack of any proper protection. Not only does Amnesia not have any real protection from the start, there is almost no way for us to force people into buying ad-hoc. What we can do is to release patches, but this only affect people that have not been able to start the game, a small part of the user base. So once the game is out we are basically screwed and we can not do much to make people chose a legal over a pirated one. Minecraft requires a server connection and is constantly updated, effectively pushing people towards buying the legit version.

So what to do about this? One way is to create different kinds of games, where we can implement these sort of things. But that just feels wrong. A developer should not design a game based on how it can be protected and doing so can only lead to bad things for our games (to avoid feeding potential flames; this is based on what we want to do with our games, not what we think of others who might do this). What we want to continue doing is to create single player games that try to evolve the way in which videogames tell stories and evoke emotions. Another option is to expand our horizons and try other platforms. This is what we are currently looking into. We do not know what this will mean as of yet, but hopefully we can continue to expand platforms and not limit them.


Our situation
So what does all this money talk mean for Frictional Games as a company? The most positive news is that we have recouped all expenses from creating Amnesia. This is of course awesome, but it needs to be taken into account that we worked long days at a very low salary, using minimal expenses. Our next game will not be possible to do on a budget like that.

For the team, it is now finally back to more normal salaries. This still means that we are paid below, or just at, minimum wage (there is not an actual minimum specified by law, we just mean according to standards) here in Sweden though. We have made some calculations and if we were to increase salaries to normal levels, our current earnings would only last for a year and a half at most. We estimate that it will take at least two years to complete our upcoming game and there are more expenses involved than salaries for the five team members (check the credits for Amnesia!). So right now, we have to stick to having low salaries and see how sales pan out.

At the time of writing our daily sales are at around 350 units, but it fluctuates quite a bit and it is hard to see how it will be in the long term. I said in the previous post that the sales were dropping drastically, but this actually stopped a day or so after posting. Our hope is that it will end up at around 70 per day, as this means that the day-to-day sales would cover monthly salary costs. The money earned at launch could then be used for other expenses and perhaps help us reach more common wages. Very hard to say when a steady level will been reached though. For the Penumbra games it happened two weeks or so after release, but PR for Amnesia is still pouring in, so we assume at least another month.


Final thoughts
Hopefully this post has give some kind of insight into sales for a PC game and where Frictional Games stand now. We are really happy how Amnesia have turned out in all ways. While sales could have been better, people are still buying it and will hopefully continue to. If it stabilizes at a good level, things are looking very bright indeed.

We also feel that we finally can leave Amnesia behind us and start focusing on our next project instead. As this will be our first project where we know from the start that we can finance it ourselves, it will be very interesting to see what can be done. In all our previous games, we have mostly rushed through the production. This is will be the first time we can take our time and make sure that all is the way we want it to.

Exciting times lie ahead and we hope you all will follow us into the future as well!


117 comments:

  1. Sounds great! =) One small thing though, is that there were several instances where you wrote 'where' but actually meant 'were' (I don't mean to be annoying, only helpful). I love these long, insightful posts.

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  2. Glad to see it was over expectation. I can only imagine the feeling of your game getting torrented. I used to do the old I will torrent something and see how it is. However now if a game has a demo I will use that to test out the quality and if not I may torrent it play for 10-15 mins like it was a demo then delete it and make a choice. I pre ordered amneisa back in April and I never regreated it even though I paid more than the later pre order (sneaky devils) but hey good job. You have inspired me to create a story based horror game and I hope you guys will support me when it is released :)

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  3. This is great news, I recommend your games to anyone who will listen.

    I was going to suggest some small dlc for amnesia to increase funds, however thinking about it, it'd be hard to make a short experience as paid dlc and have it feel 'worthwhile' to the consumer compared to the overall amnesia experience.

    I have no idea if this would work at all in Sweden, but one local indie studio here in Australia does this: They (with a college) offer Certificate 3 training in IT. The training is done by the college, and the government gives them money for every student that completes the course (which is super easy). The students are paid min wage for their age (Around $8 aud) per hour, and a different group goes in once per week. They've opened two other small studios now to do this, some working on their main xbox game while one studio works on iphone games.

    Although that of course depends on many things, like the Swedish government.

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  4. Have you guys considered distributing via Steam? This affords you a reasonable level of copy-protection. I've no idea what costs are involved, but the increased visibility on the steam platform and (hopefully) reduced piracy may balance it out?

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  5. You made me think about connection between piracy and new contents, replayability etc. For more income, I'd suggest

    1. Contact GoG.com for distributing the complete Penumbra with a great amount of extras (artworks, dev diary, soundtrack, whatever) - considering its enthusiastic community, you will get a lot of attention and sales.

    2. Maybe just me, but your homepage sucks. This blog is much immersive. I'm against flash animation and sound, that's not what I'm saying. Look at Brandon Sanderson's webpage for example. Keep me looking back from time to time.

    3. Maybe I just didn't pay attention very well, but what is missing, is a PayPal "Donate" button. I think your blog posts inspire many developers, writers, artists, and sometimes I feel like I could give you guys a hug.

    4. Make your next game slightly more complex. Nothing is wrong with Amnesia and Penumbra, they're immersive, these games are never interrupted by cutscenes and shitty effects and boring action; so keep it that way. But as you pointed out (and what Zero Punctuation made more obvious): your games are pretty much one-way trips through locations. What keeps me play Deus Ex and Thief over and over again, is that they offer me... um... canal routes, vents, secret doors, collectibles, etc. without distracting attention from the main "quest". Gamers love to explore and collect.

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  6. Hello frictional. I am very happy to hear that things are looking bright for you, I have not jet been able to play Amnesia since my poor old graphics card is to old for it. But I will buy a new card soon and I am looking very much forward to enjoy hours of terror and madness as soon as I get it (and since I do not play much games at all now days, I more or less buy a new graphic card for the sole reason of being able to play Amnesia).

    Having said that I would like to express my humble opinion about piracy and why I do think you would earn a lot to have a more positive attitude towards it. Ill start with my self as an example, I first downloaded the demo of penumbra overture, played it trough but was not moved by it at all. Some months later I stumbled upon a torrent of it, decided to give it another try and started playing it again. I still was unmoved by the first part of the game, but slowly the game started growing on me. After finishing it, I felt so agitated that I instantly downloaded gamers gate and bought both black plague and requiem. After playing trough black plague as well I was totally hooked on your way of designing games and portraying horror, I started stalking your web page for more updates about your next game and pre-ordered amnesia late this spring. (To be completely honest with you, I have still not paid for overture, but on the other hand, I didn't enjoy and only played trough the first level of requiem, so I think we are quite even since I played a game I did not pay for (black plague) and paid for a game I did not play (requiem).)

    What I am trying to say is that even tough many of the people who pirates your game might not buy them afterwards there is a big chance that they will join your fanbase and start buying your future games (you could see it somewhat as a free of charge advertisement investment :P).

    I also think that you would gain much by accepting the fact that a lot of people will pirate your game and make it easier for them to contribute by putting a donation button on the game and/or company website where people can contribute with as much as they can afford or think the product was worth to them. One indie project that has gained immense success with this approach towards piracy is the fantastic movie Ink (seriously, if you have not seen it yet; DO IT! it is one of the best films of 2009), you can read more about their story here:
    http://torrentfreak.com/ink-the-movie-that-blew-up-on-bittorrent-100205/

    I also think it might be a good idea to put a "if you did not pay for this game pleas click here to donate money to us" -button after the end credits of your future games, because, if you continue to endings as powerful as the one in black plague I am sure that many people will be moved and send money to you.


    Regards
    Joakim

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  7. Incredible game :-) I'm in the Cistern now, and playing slowly, relishing each step. I have a large TV and in the pitch black, this game temporarily becomes my reality :-) The art is so unbelievably beautiful I don't know how to describe it. I don't know whether it's the PC-centric development or just the effort put into it, but the "look" is better than even recent big-budget games.

    You may have undervalued the popularity of Minecraft by relying on Google results. Every online community I am at is infatuated with Minecraft to some extent, but Amnesia fans are relatively rare. I would not be surprised of Reddit had more than ten times as many Minecraft players as Amnesia. The word of mouth buzz for it is simply insane (I hear about it constantly, even though it's not my type of game). Don't let that respective success get you down, though! What you are building here is something amazing: a customer fanbase which will stick with you as long as you make great games. Building that audience is always the hardest part, but your achievements are tremendous.

    In my personal efforts evangelizing the game, I notice that quite a few people *would* play Amnesia but can't (too afraid, it won't run on their computer). I think that as integrated cards become gaming capable, developers like yourself will be faced with millions more customers without having to cede your profits and development control to Microsoft or Sony.

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  8. Hola, Frictional Games.
    Lamento no dominar el inglés,ya que solo Luis podrá entender mi post, creo.
    Solo quería darles las GRACIAS por el mejor survival horror que he jugado desde Silent Hill 2.
    A uno no puede por menos que darle la risa tras jugar a supuestas revoluciones que derrochan medios, como Alan Wake.
    Un juego que no te toma por idiota, con los ojos puestos en los clásicos de la literatura de terror, con una mecánica enfocada 100% a la inmersión.
    Mi mas sincera enhorabuena.

    PD: estoy realizando un fanzine dedicado al cine de terror, en el que nos gustaría incluir también música, literatura y cómics. Y ahora que SI hay un videojuego interesante sobre el tema, tal vez me ponga con un análisis de Amnesia. ¿Les interesaría una escueta entrevista?

    Gracias de nuevo.

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  9. Hi,

    thanks for this great post and the previous one. Maybe you write another one about sales and distributions on different OS/systems in, let's say, 5 monts (=6 months after release)?

    What you could to in regards of piracy: Offer patches and bonus stuff only after a (fast and easy!) registration. One publisher did that for his RTS game and I think it was quite successful. The game showed a small screen when starting to notify you of updates, etc. and that is it. Your customers are not disturbed or anything and pirates get a small hint.

    Regards,
    Enrico


    PS: Thanks for doing the Linux-port!

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  10. Great to hear you guys are doing well!

    Think about this: Your situation is like a big budget game needing to sell a million copies to break even, and reaching 1.5 million. That's considered a success on all accounts!

    Don't forget that this is a PC game that will probably continue to sell as time goes on and more people are aware of it. I, also, think you guys are underestimating the Minecraft effect here, as Amnesia is nowhere near as much mentioned as that. Minecraft is becoming a phenomenon really not just a game, and wherever you go you'll find people blabbering about how great it is.

    A game like Amnesia will remain a niche for various reasons. There are many people who either would love to play it but are too scared to try after having a taste of the demo (and that speaks volumes to what you have achieved here, IMO), and others who simply don't like being scared in games (which probably accounts for the majority).

    Something to also keep in mind is that critical acclaim for a game does not even guarantee success. We've all seen many cases where games who were adored by the presses and been given high scores all around, but still simply failed financially and never sold well at all. Psychonauts and Beyond Good and Evil are perfect examples of this. They failed for many reasons, but none of them had to do with the quality of the game. Bad release dates, which I think Amnesia might be a bit guilty of, since it coincided with huge releases that would aid in making it more obscure both on PC and other platforms (Civ 5, Dead Rising 2, Halo Reach, etc). Everyone was talking about those games and hyping them up when Amnesia was released (even before that), and hell, they still are. Another reason is the niche quality to the game, especially in medium where a lot of people disregard any game that isn't multiplayer, and doesn't give you a million guns, rocket launchers and big ass explosions.

    But, fortunately, unlike the aforementioned two games, you guys *have* succeeded, even against all these odds, which is magnificent.

    As far as piracy is concerned, as hard as I know it is, you have to keep looking at your sales numbers to determine success/failure and not at piracy rates. You have to keep in mind that the bigger the game and more reputable, the more pirated it is going to be (case in point, most heavily pirated games include Spore, MW/MW2, etc).
    The fact that Amnesia was unprotected, IMO, really has no bearing on the issue. Everything ends up on torrents sooner or later, and this is something we all have to live with. As long as you don't alienate your loyal customers with annoying and useless DRM schemes to try and stop the inevitable, it's all good. Always keep this in mind: Keep your focus on customers, not on pirates.

    FWIW, I bought a copy of the game for myself, and another 2 copies for friends who were more or less on the fence regarding this game. Now, they really know what true survival horror feels like! :)
    ... and one of them looks like he's too scared to go on playing. Again, a testament to what 5 guys have managed to achieve, where others with endless budgets and huge teams, have simply failed.

    All that said, I wish you the best and here's hoping for even more success with your upcoming game!

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  11. Frictional Fan8 October 2010 13:52

    Great to hear you guys are doing well!

    Think about this: Your situation is like a big budget game needing to sell a million copies to break even, and reaching 1.5 million. That's considered a success on all accounts!

    Don't forget that this is a PC game that will probably continue to sell as time goes on and more people are aware of it. I, also, think you guys are underestimating the Minecraft effect here, as Amnesia is nowhere near as much mentioned as that. Minecraft is becoming a phenomenon really not just a game, and wherever you go you'll find people blabbering about how great it is.

    A game like Amnesia will remain a niche for various reasons. There are many people who either would love to play it but are too scared to try after having a taste of the demo (and that speaks volumes to what you have achieved here, IMO), and others who simply don't like being scared in games (which probably accounts for the majority).

    Something to also keep in mind is that critical acclaim for a game does not even guarantee success. We've all seen many cases where games who were adored by the presses and been given high scores all around, but still simply failed financially and never sold well at all. Psychonauts and Beyond Good and Evil are perfect examples of this. They failed for many reasons, but none of them had to do with the quality of the game. Bad release dates, which I think Amnesia might be a bit guilty of, since it coincided with huge releases that would aid in making it more obscure both on PC and other platforms (Civ 5, Dead Rising 2, Halo Reach, etc). Everyone was talking about those games and hyping them up when Amnesia was released (even before that), and hell, they still are. Another reason is the niche quality to the game, especially in a medium where a lot of people disregard any game that isn't multiplayer, and doesn't give you a million guns, rocket launchers and big ass explosions.

    But, fortunately, unlike the aforementioned two games, you guys *have* succeeded even against all the odds, which is magnificent.

    As far as piracy is concerned, as hard as I know it is, you have to keep looking at your sales numbers to determine success/failure and not at piracy rates. You have to keep in mind that the bigger the game and more reputable, the more pirated it is going to be (case in point, most heavily pirated games include Spore, MW/MW2, etc).
    The fact that Amnesia was unprotected, IMO, really has no bearing on the issue. Everything ends up on torrents sooner or later, and this is something we all have to live with. As long as you don't alienate your loyal customers with annoying and useless DRM schemes to try and stop the inevitable, it's all good. Always keep this in mind: Keep your focus on customers, not on pirates.

    FWIW, I bought a copy of the game for myself, and another 2 copies for friends who were more or less on the fence regarding this game. Now, they really know what true survival horror feels like! :)
    ... and one of them looks like he's too scared to go on playing. Again, a testament to what 5 guys have managed to achieve, where others with endless budgets and huge teams, have simply failed.

    All that said, I wish you the best and here's hoping for even more success with your upcoming game!

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  12. @Joakim

    You are a damn thief, nothing more. The game is low priced anyway, and you still want it for free. No forgiveness there!

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  13. I think one of the reasons why MineCraft is so popular is that it allows people to, some extend, create their own stories. And I don't mean in the traditional narrative sense, but more that they can have their own unique experiences which they can then share with the world. Stuff like, I build a house from wood, it caught fire and burned to the ground. Or, I build this beautiful underground base, died, and haven't been able to find it for days. This generates stories and word of mouth, making it a very viral game.

    Amnesia on the other hand is a fairly linear and scripted experience in comparison, relatively speaking. (don't get me wrong here, I *love* Amnesia)

    Amnesia and the Penumbra series have a really amazing and unique way of interacting with the game world, and perhaps if you expand on this further you could make a game which allows for much more unique player experiences.

    Personally I'd love to see a game which is combination of Penumbra/Amnesia style user to world interaction and Ultima Underworld/Arx Fatalis style exploration.

    But that's just my humble opinion :)

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  14. Guys, just tell you I am really happy with the fact that you will continue creting such amazing games, I was concerned after to read your 1 week later post, but with the comentaries here I see you are pretty sure you will find the way to create your next game.

    Even when I didin´t play Amnesia yet, I am a big fan of your work, and consider Penumbra Saga, and spicially Black plague like one of the best games I ever played, totally inmersive and with amazing moments during the gameplay (And I disagree with the opininon that is a short game, for me is Ok) and is GREAT thay you decided to continue creating games in the same line...

    You can count with 1 preorder in your next game, but anyway , I think you received some good advices to make some money in the upper posts.

    Best greetings from Spain

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  15. Sony, Pub Fund, PS3

    Decent idea?

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  16. Hey Guys.

    Props for creating another great unique title, and congratulations for coming up in numbers.

    Now, lets for a second forget that it's a game we're talking about here, let's think about it as a product, with all regular market laws affecting it.

    Your product is very unique, fills a niche. It does it good, if not the best on the market. Your past products created a userbase for you and Amnesia only increased it.

    What you need to do, is what every other small business focused on high quality out there does - keep refining your production, keep making better and better things, keep your current customer base happy, and over time it will grow. You pretty much decided on that approach when you decided on making a niche product - thus you can not compare yourself with mass market.

    You have ended up with what I think is a very loyal user base, looking at myself as an example, as long as you keep the quality or slightly improve on it, I will keep buying what you make. Most of the people here reading this will do the same.

    That is where your focus should lie, along with the devotion to keep improving things. Think of it as your own personal little garden that you grow and take care of, so that in the end you can reap the rewards of your work.

    Over time if you keep doing the right things, it will grow and your reward will grow, but think of it more as an over time (years) thing than a bang - and if the bang does happen at any time, that much better ;)

    Oh ... and that "donate paypal" button someone mentioned before is not a bad idea at all. I for one do appreciate your work and love reading what you write, and I would pay you a beer t every now and then if you know what I mean ;)

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  17. Really happe that you guys decided to sell this game via Steam with SteamPlay :D I'd buy the game, but after trying the demo it just didn't seem to be "my thing". I did get penumbra on the Humble Indie Bundle though :)

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  18. Oh another thing ... It's an entirely new market they are filling, but think of Iceland's CCP as an example.

    They published it themselves and are still to this day an indie company. Different kind of indie than you guys, but indie nonetheless.

    At a point in time they created EVE that filed a niche, and is still today the only such product on the market. They went from less than 20.000 users to something like 330.000, but over the span of 10 years.

    in those 10 years, they kept loyal to their userbase, trying to grab new, but not at the expense of their current users. They kept refining the game adding new things to it all the time and still have big plans for the future. Eve is also very niche in the MMORPG space - it is very complex to master and takes years to learn after which you still don't know many things, and they keep expanding on it. It is interesting to a very specific profile of number crunching spaceship loving geeks and as long as CCP stays true to them while expanding and keep geting better they will keep those and get new ones ;)

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  19. Re: pirates, Amnesia vs. Minecraft: I think that there is very little you can do, considering the nature of both games. Amnesia is a singleplayer adventure that you play once. Minecraft, though I haven't played it, I gather is an unfinished multiplayer persistent world, with new updates coming all the time. Requiring the player to connect to an official game server is perhaps the only effective way to prevent piracy (see World of Warcraft). Basically what I'm saying is, if you want to reach Minecraft's sales, make your next release an unfinished multiplayer game.

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  20. You guys truly created a masterful work in Amnesia. Zero Punctuation brought up fair points about the "game" aspects being perhaps less than stellar in some areas, but any of its shortcomings as a "game" are wholly eclipsed by Amnesia's utterly remarkable immersive qualities.

    I am not generally a fan of most horror media. But any attempt I make to step into Daniel's shoes causes, within mere seconds, a profound sense of dread and insecurity unmatched by any book or film I have read/seen. The mere threat of the monster (I've not yet had a close encounter with it) seems to have stirred up old, forgotten fears and reveries of childhood nightmares that linger long hours even after shutting off the game, and keep me up at night.

    As of this writing, I have only managed to get down to the first level of the prison, where I assume--based on the first room outside the elevator--is where the real danger lurks. It will be hard to push through, but I'm determined to learn of Daniel's past and the extent of his involvement with Alexander and the horrific events that took place in the castle.

    You are all a great inspiration and the industry has much to learn from Amnesia regarding the depth at which a game can genuinely affect its audience by believing in itself and trimming what doesn't enforce its theme. Stick to your vision, and take what you've learned from Amnesia to make your next project even better. Thanks for the great experience! I wish you the very best.

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  21. Emanuel Tavares8 October 2010 18:05

    Concerning piracy, maybe you should develop a Horror MMORPG called Lovecraft.

    Ok, no.

    Seriously now, developing next games for the PS3 is interesting but if piracing is the concerning aspect, I think it's kinda useless, since it now has a jailbreak. Of course, we do not have statistics supporting the impact of PS3 piracy on game sales, so my argument can be quite wrong.

    Maybe you should try developing a game that can receive future expansion packs (getting them from an authenticated server, perhaps), with new chapters of the game story inside.

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  22. I pirated the game, liked it and told other people on a forum about it. No one had heard about it and several people bought it because of my recommendation.

    You didn't lose any money over me pirating it, because I would never have bought it anyway. You did however get several sales because of me. One could argue that these people might have bought it later on if they stumbled upon it, but if only one of them didn't, you would have lost sales because of me NOT pirating it.

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  23. I think the primary difference between Amnesia and Minecraft is that Minecraft is a service, while Amnesia is a product.

    It's a lot of hassle to pirate a service - you're looking at getting fresh downloads and getting the game working each time a new content update comes out (once a week?), or missing out on the content. There's that much more incentive to buy just to have access to that constant supply of new content.

    With Amnesia, it's easy to pirate (and I don't mean in terms of protection, which rarely stalls piracy for more than a week) - once you get it working, you have the game. As stated in the post above, the only thing you're really missing out on are bug fixes.

    I really see the industry moving more towards service-type gameplay. Subscriptions, paid expansions, DLC and valuable content updates that are offered over the long term, post-purchase. The latter in particular is valued by the gamer: For a player who weighs the amount of gaming experience against the dollar, the knowledge that the game is an investment that will grow (without having to pay more) makes it feel like a better use of one's money.

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  24. Minecraft isn't a good game to compare to, it's been selling for a year at half the price as Amnesia. That Amnesia has twice the Google hits isn't a mystery, you explained it without realizing -- half of the hits are for links to the pirated version.

    A much better game to compare to is Recettear, released around the same time, digital distribution only, also $20, and has 24,000 sales.

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  25. I loved the Penumbra series and bought all three the moment I finished with the torrented versions I had. The upside to torrents is the accessibility by those who either cannot afford the games or will never be exposed to them otherwise, such as in poorer countries where games are ungodly expensive. That being said, this growing fascination for your games has led me to get Amnesia on day 1, it is just horribly unfortunate that my Dell Studio 15 with its Intel Express Series Chipset Family 4 cannot play it, despite your incredible graphics customization options in the launcher. I'm hoping that this is an issue that can be patched in the future, especially since I cannot afford a new computer at this time and don't like the idea of having this game torturing me on my shelf because I cannot play it. I agree with the other posts that you should have a button on your site for donations, as this might alleviate some of your financial worries by relying on your ever-expanding fanbase. Good luck to Frictional's future endeavors and I look forward to playing my copy of Amnesia whenever the opportunity arises.

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  26. QUOTE: "Exciting times lie ahead and we hope you all will follow us into the future as well!"

    To the infinity - and beyond!
    (whatever 'beyond' means...)

    LOL

    Anyway, I'm so happy for you, I've been following your work since you released the Penumbra Tech Demo, and I even traced your routes back to Fiend, and I knew even back then you people had great potential.
    All the best & keep up the good work.

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  27. "as our website is seldom mentioned in previews/reviews."

    If you want to greatly improve your pagerank so that potential customers will find your website without having to pay for advertising, you should work on this. Some ideas:
    * Make additional (free) game content available on the website at game release (and give the link to reviewers)
    * Add free documentation on the website
    * Advertising campaign during the first few weeks: people can enter a form on the website to win a free download of the game (do not forget to make reviewers aware of this!)

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  28. QUOTE [Anonymous, 8 October 2010 18:09]:
    ----------------------------------
    I pirated the game, liked it and told other people on a forum about it. No one had heard about it and several people bought it because of my recommendation.

    You didn't lose any money over me pirating it, because I would never have bought it anyway. You did however get several sales because of me. One could argue that these people might have bought it later on if they stumbled upon it, but if only one of them didn't, you would have lost sales because of me NOT pirating it.
    ----------------------------------

    Yeah. Everyone is talking how piracy is damaging to the sales, but _how_ exactly do people know this?

    Someone should do a (preferably scientific)_research_ and shed some light on how exactly piracy effects sales, if it's damaging and under what conditions, or if its beneficial and under what conditions, etc.

    Taking things like this for granted is not the proper way of thinking about the problem.

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  29. Just wanted to say thanks for bringing us Amnesia! I'm a Mac Gamer who first stumbled across Penumbra and will be sure to pre-order your next title as I did with Amnesia :) It was a nice touch to include a Steam key and I hope you continue to support the Mac in the future.

    I would also like to see another update a few months down the line especially with regard to platform sales.

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  30. Isak Andersson8 October 2010 22:30

    Till nästa produkt kanske ni borde testa ett liknande system som minecraft har?

    Vad jag menar är att spelet kopplas till ett konto ex. steamkontot, men man måste inte logga in varje gång när man ska spela, utan det räcker att man loggar in en gång så "valideras" spelet så att man kan spela i offline mode.

    Detta lär inte stoppa piratkopiorna helt och hållet men minska dem signifikt.

    Älskade amnesia och bestämde mig för att köpa alla penumbraspelen också och klarade dom för några dagar sen.

    Älskar er, puss!

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  31. A suggestion to fix piracy: when finishing your next game title, the gamer should be presented with a text like this:

    "Thank you for playing our game. We are an independent game publisher and therefore highly dependent on game sales to finish new games. Hence, please do not forget to buy our game if you have pirated it (click here to buy). Also, please consider pre-ordering or next game NameHere (+ add some promotion for the planned game)."

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  32. Hey Frictionalgames, did you already thought about releasing your games at the same day of an Ubuntu release? A linux game that is released on exactly the same day as an Ubuntu release, can get additional press coverage in the Linux media with little effort...

    (see: http://coccinella.im/synchronized-releases )

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  33. I find it odd that you never mention one drawback of sorts that I see mentioned a lot -A LOT- on every forum where Amnesia is mentioned, and it's the very genre the game belongs to: I've seen countless people praising the game for the demo or the videos or reviewers' descriptions, but then saying they just can't bear with such a scary game, some even going as far as to demand Frictional to apply their technology to a more light-hearted, happy happy joy joy kind of game.

    I mean, me I couldn't be happier with your choice of genre because I love horror games and I have honestly not played anything this good since the first Silent Hill. You have a unique approach to horror, and one that was *sorely* missing from gaming. So, if it's up to me, pretty please with sugar on top do continue to make horror games, you're just the best at it in this day and age, and I can use the strain in my nerves =D

    But, I guess us horror fans are too much of a niche market :T If you really want to see a spike in sales, you may wanna try a genre with a wider appeal. I'd bet an arm you'd see your sales multiplied insanely. I mean, not only you manage production values that make it hard to believe the team has only five members, you're also very, very good when it comes to design. I remember the RPS guy mentioned something along the lines of "almost Valve-level of smartness" --and that is some heavy compliment with far reaching implications.

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  34. Marketing plays a big part. Even if a site reviews your game, it's just one review in a shitload of reviews. That's why public characters like Yahtzee (even if I don't appreciate his work) are more powerful figures when it comes to mentioning your games. Reviews on big sites are just references to point at. Perhaps you should send a copy to all these big community sites/blogs just to get them to play it? I'm sure they'll automatically make a post about it, seeing how great it is.

    I think your comparison to Minecraft is very unfair on so many levels. I think you're overestimating your issue with piracy. I pirated it, and then bought it. The whole thing is, as previous people said, that it's an "unknown game", and it's a niche genre. Even if the game gets good scores, as I said above, if big figures don't mention it people won't risk their money on that title or even bother to read a review about it.

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  35. I just wanted to drop by and say this; a year ago I pirated Penumbra Overture and played it. Loved it, but didn't buy it right away. When I first heard about Amnesia a few months ago and I saw Penumbra on Steam I purchased the bundle to play through again and later on preordered Amnesia. I love the work you guys do and want to apologize for stealing your work and not making the legit purchase for a long time. Put up a donation button or something here, I think you guys do superb work and would like to donate you guys at least enough to go out to the pub and have a round on me as my way of saying sorry. Seriously, studios like you guys are becoming more and more scarce and the survival horror genre is dying more every day, there's no way I would wanna let you guys disband without offering up what I can.

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  36. Good luck on your future products, and congratulations on your continued sales. Now just keep supporting Linux and keep making great games! ;)

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  37. 1 - let us know how your sellings are going next month
    2 - let us know what kind of game/story you will choose for your next game
    3 - eventually use your forum to build the global concept/gameplay/story with us
    4 - i am glad that the news are good for you ;)

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  38. IDK if this is grounded in reality, but I imagine games have a greater longevity in terms of sales compared to console releases, e.g. if the game gets significantly discounted in a christmas steam sale, a few thousand more people will pick it up, possibly more?

    I'm glad the sales have met your expectations and put you in a financially solid position, but 36k sounds way too low to me, this game deserves to be breaking 1 million.

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  39. Yeah, i guess a "donate"-button could help a bit.

    But it's sad to see how many people think "i pirated the game and that's ok". Do you live on the streets people or what's your problem? The game costs only 15 euros at steam!!!
    That's around the price of a good book.

    Probably these idiots are saving money for the shitty mainstream-games, which cost between 50 and 60 euros. If that's the reason, then it's still not right. Do you still bananas in the super market aswell, just because you've bought too many apples this week?

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  40. 2 points...

    > 15,000 (41.7%) of all sales were in the form of pre-orders, which is quite significant. Part of the explanation for this is that there was a 20% discount during pre-orders

    I think it's mostly due to people wanting to support your company which they know and trust from Penumbra.

    > First of all, once you have played Amnesia there is little meaning to play again. A person pirating the game and finishing it has no real reason to go back.

    You've pointed out the problem with single player games but haven't said anything about implementing the obvious solutions for replayability - optional parts of the story, like doors locked on the first playthrough (japanese do that all the time) or paths that can be hard to take if you don't know what you're doing. So, I wonder if your next game will have any of that?

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  41. Well done on being able to self finance your next game! Big achievement for any company nowdays. Sorry to hear about all the pirating though :(

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  42. I would like to comment a thing that happened to my brother and me while playing your games, and why this hasn't permitted us to buy your games...

    I suppose, it'll look a bit lame but... We are really frightened of your games. We bought the Humble Indie Bundle some time ago, and a month ago, we started playing Penumbra. (Spoilers ahead).

    It's was one of the nicest experiences I've played so far, but we had a really bad time playing it. We were really nervous, and it sometimes made us stop playing for a while (Man, I hate that switch on the room, that was the most frightening moment I've experienced on a game, and it was done without using cheap scary moments, like F.E.A.R likes to do so much). Although we had a bad time, it was really emotionally-engaging, specially the Red letter when he was just a teenager. That is a moment that makes me shudder when i remember it, and there are only a small bit of games that could achieve that.

    I'm sure that Amnesia could do that... But my brother and me don't want to die young of a heart attack. Our lives are fine with that, and we can live without that horror of what's next in the corridor :P.

    I think that's really a factor, as you said in the "after a week" post: Minecraft is not hardcore horror, and Amnesia is.

    I would really love to see you making more games, and if they are as emotionally-engaging as Penumbra, without me wanting to close it because of the fear, you'll have another customer.

    If not... well, I suppose we are good ear-to-ear advertisers :P.

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  43. Good news, very glad to hear you're going to be okay and solvent. Also, very interesting and insightful comments - you've got to love a community like this.

    I was really taken aback by the Linux interest in the game via my review of Amnesia. Someone linked to the review on a Linux games website and boom, I had hundreds flocking to it and, hopefully, many of those hits turned in to sales.

    I know I had a third paragraph to put here but it's plum slipped my mind.

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  44. have you considered maybe a steamworks patch similar to what UT3 did like add in achivements ect for the windows / mac steam version this could encourage some to buy it rather than pirate its that extra something also acheivements can encourage replayability for those who are obseessed with them. except make them so they dont obstruct the game when you get it like make it in the pause menu or something.

    having said that your commentary would also encourage replayability im playing through without and then when im done i intend to replay to listen to the commentary

    likewise these extras like commantary could be made something that requires a purchase

    or even work in some kind of stat tracking that requires an online account ect

    one major thing is the marketing i would say its somewhat clear that the more exposure the game gets the more sales long term you will make. why not involve the community for marketing some kind of video competition or something around amnesia or a make your own trailer thing winner gets free copy of anmesia and/ or penumbra titles ? that could dramatically improve exposure.

    also steam sales work wounders for making sales for those sitting on the fence.

    i really dont want frictional to die you are making unique expirences that no one else can accomplish !

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  45. If you make another game, please, stick to the multiplatform.

    I'm a Linux user and when I heard of this game for the first time, the main reason I tried the demo was because it had a Linux version and you know what? I loved it!

    You gained a fan because your game had a Linux version.

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  46. @Antonio:
    Well, that's OK, I guess - as time passes and you grow emotionally and in other ways, you might just wake up one day and say: Hey - I wanna see what Amnesia was all about.

    I, for example, first stumbled upon a horror game when I was rather young - I kinda liked horror movies, but I never knew such games existed.

    It was Silent Hill.

    The introductory sequence and the initial part of the game scared the crap out of me, and I only dared to try the series again few years later.

    Meanwhile, I broke the ice with Resident Evil 3, but the game that really made me a survival-horror gamer was the first Dino Crisis. Now, that was both a scary and engaging experience.

    After that, I played whatever horror game I could get my hands on, no matter it was an old or a new title. Don't get me wrong, I play games of other genres too, but horror games is what I really love.

    And finally, one day, now an experienced horror gamer, I decided to try Silent Hill 4, loved it, and then went SH3 (now THAT'S a scary game), then SH2, then SH1.

    Anyway, my point is, these games ARE MADE for a somewhat more mature audience. Here, 'mature' doesn't necessarily relate to age. So, maybe you're not ready to buy such a scary game yet, but there's certainly an audience that is: the problem is with the marketing - how to make the people that DON'T KNOW about the game HEAR about the game.

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  47. I purchased the game and loved it (for a single playthrough). I'm going to recommend the one thing that could potentially be a saving grace in order to deal with pirating: online co-op. The only reason I even purchased Amnesia is because you guys are a small independent developer, and I really felt Frictional Games deserved to stay alive. I pirate nearly every single player game that I want unless it provides some sort of incentive to purchase it; i.e. online co-op/multiplayer. My hope is that you guys find some way to incorporate this into Steam as well... hell we all know half the people that played either Alien Swarm, Left 4 Dead 2, or Sam & Max was for the damn Team Fortress 2 hats.

    None the less, I wish you all good luck with your next game, and hopefully it will be one I wish to purchase again.

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  48. Antonio-
    From an artistic point of view, it's not just an achievement that it was as emotionally engaging as it was; it is itself an achievement that people find themselves not wanting to play the game for emotional reasons.
    It's hard to say if that's a marketing success. Within the horror genre, I'm certainly far more likely to buy a game that's hard to play, and it's likely to get better reviews, but I don't doubt it alienates more players, even by essentially being better.

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  49. Grattis som fan till er! Mycket fint spel. Nu vet jag inget om försäljningssiffror, men ~36000 känns ändå väldigt lite. Nåväl... Jag har försökt sprida spelet till de som kan tänkas vara intresserade.

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  50. I'm already excited about the new game talk. I know this sounds lame on the internet but keep it up guys!

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  51. You guys are bros!

    Thanks for making this beautiful game

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  52. i originally downloaded the torrent but after playing it, the 20$ was purchase on steam was more like a donation than anything

    even though im a pirate, your game was so well done it made me want to pay

    i love your work and please continue!

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  53. Hello Everybody from Frictional Games!
    Glad things are going well for you right now. I think the happiness on this news can not be applied only to you, but to all who know her work, effort and dedication to do with their ideas, dreams and projects become reality. It is a pleasure for us users of their products, knowing that the journey does not end here. I think if they go through a project we all know that this will be great, as seen in the latest release: Amnesia: The Dark Descent. I'm very, very happy to know that we can wait for a next title. I think when there is a big thing, some risks are expected. Yes, I am speaking of pirates. But this is a step that most game companies now. But see that after all saw the game itself, or played the demo, immediately decided to buy it, making your work worthwhile. I really wanted to just leave my THANK YOU for doing the great job you have done here and it depends on us, help them in whatever way, whether buying their games or otherwise, we will. I believe that going forward, things will be fine.

    was what I wanted to write.
    Much Happiness, Health and Success to you. Sorry if my English is bad ^ ^
    I'm from Brazil.
    My name is Marcos Rafael was a pleasure to know you are happy.

    A big hug. Even more.

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  54. Have you guys considered a pledge drive or anything? Perhaps one like kickstarter.com (but you would run yourself and save the %3 or whatever they charge). You could reward people who pledge. You never know, there may be some quite wealthy person out there who loves you game and would be happy to drop 5,000 just to have his name in the credits or something.
    -Ronnie

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  55. About pledge: use flattr.com.

    I think there was something about an editor. Was the amnesia editor dropped? You could use kickstarter for an amnesia editor, although the target audience most likely is small.

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  56. BTW, can you co-relate sales to the Amnesia Let's Play?

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  57. @Anonymous(Who replied to me :P)

    I guess you're right, but sometimes it's not the same for other people. I've grown a lot in this time, mentally-speaking, and started playing other games I didn't understand(Planescape:Torment was one of those) but I still can't stand horror games. And some people never can do that.

    I really hope that in the future I can start playing these games, that would be great, as you did. But sometimes people never stand horror films, or books, or other kinds of them. Like, let's say, philosophical treatises.

    Anyway, if in the future I start to fancy horror games, there'll be another purchase, don't doubt it :P.

    @Scott McTony

    That was such a great idea. Frictional talked about that in the a week after post, saying that they were proud that some reviews said that the game was too scary. I really think that if they can do a game so emotionally-engaging, and so frightening that people can't play it because of their personality... It's a great achievement. One that only literature or cinema has achieved to become an art.

    Now it's time to start talking about what everyone it's closing his mouth. Games are art, and Amnesia is just a step forward on that matter :P.

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  58. Comparing Amnesia to Minecraft is a fool's game and you're only going to make yourselves depressed. Minecraft has gushing testimonies from across the internet, including directly from Valve, is a cheaper game, with far more gameplay "value" due to the procedural content and creative expression, and most importantly has been available for a year, not just a month. Piracy has nothing to do with it.

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  59. Maybe an expansion of Amnesia was a good idea. I mean expansions are always easier and faster to be done and could give a nice boost to your income.
    BTW did you think of selling your games via Ubuntu's software center?

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  60. Reading this made me buy your game. Power to you guys.

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  61. Just wanted to let you know that I purchased the pre-sale game on steam... I'm glad it's numbers are working for you and you'll be making other games in the future. I loved the game, and really enjoyed the throwback to horror without weapons. Couple of quick posts regarding piracy and minecraft in your post

    1) Minecraft is a much more open world, it's like the sims but for guys, lets us build whatever we want and then see how it runs, and it's simple enough that everyone can get into it. It's really not comparable to a survival/horror genre of game.

    2) Price... Minecraft, while only slightly cheaper is cheaper. Games under 10 bucks is a totally unique pricepoint, in that many people will buy them just on the 'chance' they're going to turn out good, which in a game like Minecraft is virtually assured judging by it's online following. Personally I've got a couple dozen steam indie games that were 2-10 dollars, since at that price I'll buy anything to give it an hour's try... and if its terrible I don't feel bad. At 16-30 dollars, you hit a point where there are a lot of games around there, and people are not going to be just throwing it in the steam basket to test it out, but giving it a bit extra thought.

    3) Keep the focus on the customers and not the pirates... I watched a few reviews and saw a movie before I decided to buy the game, but the last thing I always do before I purchase a game (in store, online, steam, whatever) is to check its DRM. Any limited activations, online required, starforce, ect. and I don't buy it. I'd rather not play a great game than play a great game with DRM (too many bad experiences, and too many DRM free great games to choose from), and I, like most geeks these days can afford to support any game that deserves it.

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  62. Just wanted to let you know that I purchased the pre-sale game on steam... I'm glad it's numbers are working for you and you'll be making other games in the future. I loved the game, and really enjoyed the throwback to horror without weapons. Couple of quick posts regarding piracy and minecraft in your post

    1) Minecraft is a much more open world, it's like the sims but for guys, lets us build whatever we want and then see how it runs, and it's simple enough that everyone can get into it. It's really not comparable to a survival/horror genre of game.

    2) Price... Minecraft, while only slightly cheaper is cheaper. Games under 10 bucks is a totally unique pricepoint, in that many people will buy them just on the 'chance' they're going to turn out good, which in a game like Minecraft is virtually assured judging by it's online following. Personally I've got a couple dozen steam indie games that were 2-10 dollars, since at that price I'll buy anything to give it an hour's try... and if its terrible I don't feel bad. At 16-30 dollars, you hit a point where there are a lot of games around there, and people are not going to be just throwing it in the steam basket to test it out, but giving it a bit extra thought.

    3) Keep the focus on the customers and not the pirates... I watched a few reviews and saw a movie before I decided to buy the game, but the last thing I always do before I purchase a game (in store, online, steam, whatever) is to check its DRM. Any limited activations, online required, starforce, ect. and I don't buy it. I'd rather not play a great game than play a great game with DRM (too many bad experiences, and too many DRM free great games to choose from), and I, like most geeks these days can afford to support any game that deserves it.

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  63. I haven't bought or played Amnesia because it looks scary as shit :(, but the videos do make it look very interesting :).

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  64. As one person said:

    "Man, this is some dumb logic. Minecraft was linked by Valve, is a cheaper game, and one with more replay value due to the creative expression aspect, while on the other hand Amnesia is a game so effective that with its demo it actually discourages some sales because it is "too scary". Minecraft's also been for sale for a year instead of a month. "

    It's true. You're basically comparing a niche game to Gary's Mod. You wont outsell Minecraft, simply from the kind of game that it is.

    And I preordered your game, but when the game was leaked I downloaded it because I didn't want to wait for it to come out.

    I feel kind of bad that I preordered it instead of bought it for full price, simply because that's 10 extra dollars you could have invested to make Amnesia 2 or something :(

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  65. Take your time and do it right, that's how Blizzard does it!

    I bought two copies of Amnesia, one for myself and one for a friend, and Halloween's going to scare me shitless this year!

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  66. There are many reasons why Minecraft has sold ten times the amount of copies that Amnesia has sold. For one thing, Minecraft has been out for much longer. Also, Minecraft allows players to be creative and build amazing set pieces which can be then showcased on youtube, reddit and other popular sites. People then pass those videos on to their friends and word of mouth spreads.

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  67. I think the genre plays a large part too. The fact that it is a horror game plays far more of a role than the lack of multiplayer in comparison to minecraft's happy happy fun time success I think.
    I don't think the interest in pooping your pants is as widespread as simple creation, perhaps unfortunately!

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  68. Seeing how this is the best horror game on the market, a marketing push for Halloween would likely be well received.

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  69. I am so happy for you guys! While I personally thought you guys would have sold more than 36,000 copies by now, I think between the continued good press and possible future discounts, this game will move well north of 100,000 copies and you guys will be able to live life a little more comfortably.

    Keep it up!

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  70. Your game is AWESOME. I purchased via Steam during the discount and it was WELL worth the money. I still have issues playing alone at night! Truly, you have mastered the art of survival horror games. Keep up the good work! I'm sure that having a demo out before release helped boost sales - that's what sold me on purchasing.

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  71. I bought the game at full price solely because a linux client was released.

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  72. Just to touch on Pirating.

    Do you realize that you can just download Minecraft from their site and crack it by simply moving the folder to another place after install ?

    So I dont think Minecraft fares so much better because its not pirated.

    Amnesia is awesome game. But it speaks to very limited audience. (the ones that can stand the stress)

    While Minecraft is relaxing game with multiplayer.


    So please lets stop worry about pirating. Its collateral damage every developer has to count with.

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  73. How hard would it be to port Amnesia to X360 / PS3? The controls have to be redesigned, but still... It has to be less than developing a whole new game to make use of these, potentially more lucrative platforms.

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  74. Very interesting to read.
    I purchased this game based on reviews although the genre is way outside anything I'd normally consider buying.

    Hearing the sales numbers is surprising to me. I would have expected a much higher number based on the positive reviews found everywhere. But again, since this game is in the category it is maybe it shouldn't be surprising.

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  75. Great blog article, thanks for it.
    However, comparing Minecraft to Amnesia is a terrible idea. The horror market has always been crap and that is because a majority of people do not want to be scared. Notice where the Resident Evil and Silent Hill series has went since number 4, RE went into action which attracted audiences, but then it dropped the quality of its game and disappointed actual horror fans in return for a quick buck with the release of RE:5,while SH 4:The Room was just another crap experiment (that had good cutscenes) that degenerated eventually into a Resident Evil 4 ripoff (Silent Hill Homecoming). If you would consider sticking around with Amnesia in the form of mods and extra stories, I would be more then happy to hand you my money if you continue to do things right. I still play Elder Scrolls 3; Morrowind because of the mods out there making a good game even better.

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  76. I would like to make a few comments as a person who recently bought the game... Dunno if you devs are reading this or not but anyway.

    1) The Steam sale should have lasted longer, or been better timed. For me, and I feel a hell of a lot of other people, finding out about Amnesia came after watching the ZP vid. If there had been a Steam sale, even 5-10%, following this video and the obvious increased publicity it gave the game, then I would have bought sooner and with less hesitation. I think it's fair to say even a 5% sale would have resulted in a massive boost in sales. Everyone likes a sale, even a token one. Plus it gets your game on the map - people are always hunting for good games on sale.

    2) Your game has a terrible title. Seriously. Wordy titles like Amnesia's look amateurish and make a negative first impression. You might think this is nitpicking but I actually think it's pretty important.

    3) Amnesia is shit scary! Horror games are generally masochistic affairs but holy shit this is a joke. I have no weapons... Can't even hide in the dark.. fucking hell. This type of game is niche for sure, so that is going to affect your sales. What about having a 'pansy mode' for people that find the game too scary to play by default? Like, infinite lamp or something. Or maybe just more plentiful oil. Something you should consider, I think. You'd widen your audience, and the hardcore players could still select the 'I won't sleep for days' mode.

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  77. It's brilliant being able to read about these kind of issues direct from the developer. Having played the majority of Amnesia through with a friend, it is safe to say I will be buying my own copy as the game was so good it would be a shame not to see something of a similar vein released again.

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  78. I pre-ordered the game simply because it had a Linux version, though I still didn't completed it yet, maybe because it is to scary for me.
    Nevertheless I will continue to support you guys with your upcoming games, as long as you will offer a Linux version. :)

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  79. I dont buy a game for replaybility, but for that its worth buying.
    Like Amnesia and Penumbras was.
    Already cant wait for the next game! You make the best games!

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  80. I pre ordered Amnesia with the Penumbra bundle for Linux, and am quite pleased with my purchases. I am not, however, one of those Lintards that just purchases stuff because there's a Linux version. All this does is empower companies to make crap software. Thankfully Frictional games does not fall into this category.

    Piracy is just something that has to be dealt with. DRM is never the answer. Pirates will only work around the DRM, and paying customers could lose interest if it's too draconian. Historically DRM has never stopped, nor hindered piracy.

    There's always ways to gather sells of _dusty_ titles. Special bundle prices, deals with Steam, GOG, or other digital intermediaries.

    But be careful not to over saturate your genre. I liked the Penumbra's, and Amnesia is enjoyable. Will I buy your next title if it follows the same story line and game play - can't say I would.

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  81. I wish you had sold the GNU/Linux versions seperately from the windows/mac versions. I bought mine from your site and of course i downloaded the GNU/Linux version. I hope in the future you don't lump them together like that.

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  82. That was a good read. I'm sorry it didn't sell more, and that it didn't get the attention it deserves. It's also sad how much piracy affected sales. An indie game on XBLA with similar reviews Limbo sold 700k copies, so you might consider XBLA or PSN, if you can afford it.

    But here's what i wanted to say in the comment. Have Penumbra and especially Amnesia on Steam sale 50% or 70% off, often as possible. That's how Torchlight got most of it's million copies sold. Sales will skyrocket, i think that with a 70% off steam sale you will get triple the money you got at launch.

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  83. Although it's disappointing to hear about the pirating of the game, I'm really glad that you guys are doing well. I purchased Amnesia day one on Steam and I thoroughly enjoyed it. While I enjoyed Penumbra, I was hoping this game would be more of a refined experience, and it was. I doubt it brought much publicity to the game but I also wrote a review that I hope did it justice. Best of luck, Frictional, I can't wait to see what you have in store for us next!

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  84. The issue should be did piracy hurt sales MORESO than other games. Which is pretty debatable, because the people who would know that a game leaked on the internet early and probably for the most part the same people that would pirate all their single player games. I personally doubt piracy had negative impact on their sales, holding constant the norm of piracy in this industry.

    If you want sympathy you should produce a regression analysis of the game sales versus piracy, against other similar games in its genre. Right now its just the devs crying over their optimistic speculation.

    (This is based also on the earlier article that was complaining about the leak)

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  85. I just hope the foray into other platforms doesn't signify the usual dumbing down seen everywhere else this has happened. Amnesia makes really good use of mouse and keyboard controls, I just hope that is kept for the PC version of future titles.

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  86. I don't understand how it can be difficult to determine the number of Linux downloads? Each platform has a separate download link, should be easy enough to count the number of downloads for each platform.

    It's not accurate in determining what platform the game is played on, but it's good enough to determine if there's an interrest for Mac and Linux at all. Keep up the good work!

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  87. Interesting article. Congratulations frictional, you guys really deserved it. Its sad that people still pirate independent/small studio games, but it is an unfortunate reality in this age we live in. Best of luck in your new endeavor, I and many others will be waiting with baited breath!

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  88. I have something to point out on the subject of pirating.
    Minecraft Vs. Amnesia in the pirating market is an absolutely horrible comparison to make. The reason?
    Torrent trackers are an absolutely unreliable way to figure out if your game is being pirated or not when what you're comparing to is less than 30 or so MB (Can't remember exact right now).
    Search for 'minecraft for free youtube' or the same on rapidshare or other file hosting sites and you'll find out that the (What I believe) Are the bulk of pirated copies of minecraft happen on these upload sites. there's 70'000 views for several of the pirating guides on youtube alone...
    that's A LOT of pirating.
    Also, the multiplay aspect just means you have to turn off verification server side and use a script to change your online name and you can play multi with pirated versions.
    So in reality, it's just as pirated... with new versions of the pirated software coming out as updates are released.

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  89. Single-player is offline single-player. Anything with attempts to activate somewhere makes me thinking about purchasing a pirate copy which I can play anytime I want, no matter if I am in my cottage without Internet or a company doesn't exist.

    I agree that torrents are as good as demo. If company doesn't bother to make it, I want to know if I can play it for my money. There were too many incidents where my PC/laptop met requirements but somehow, oops, this graphic card wasn't supported.
    This way I have played and dropped many games. And pardon me but if someone says me I should pay $40 for one hour demo, it would be laughable.

    For Minecraft, I think it is like compare why Pathologic doesn't have a same number of sales like, let's say, SimCity 4. These games are different, are meant for different players. Some genre is just more profitable than other.

    Anyway, thanks for the games. I purchased them all during pre-orders just for pure joy of Linux version existence and looking forward to play them!

    By the way, GOG.com is really nice idea.

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  90. Yup this is what I did.I downloaded Amnesia from torrent,I played the game and I thought it is amazing so I bought the game afterwards to suppport you guys.I doesn't matter if I replay it or not in the future,it's not money down the drain.It's money to help you guys continue with your amazing work.That is the right mentality.So,that been said, good luck with your next super-secret project.

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  91. I'm happy your game is selling. I would buy it, but scary games just don't work with me. Good luck guys.

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  92. I bought Amnesia this weekend after seeing an ad for it in the Steam Store.

    After reading the advertisement, I read the reviews on Metacritic. (I read user reviews more than professional reviews). Impressed, I bought the game on Steam right away.

    I would've paid 60 dollars for your game. 20 is a bit low in my opinion. Amnesia (in my opinion) surpasses games on a AAA budget. It has substance, it had suspense, it has a compelling story.

    You just made a life long fan out of me. I will buy any game you guys put forth. Frankly, I humbly consider your company a new gaming revolution for horror story-telling.

    Keep up the excellent work. Superb, Superb, Superb!

    Sincerely,

    Clay Davis
    www.RYAMATSU.com
    video game composer

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  93. I bought the game after I read about it in PC Gamer, Minecraft got boring after a few weeks, and I have to wait for the update. So its nice to play something completely different.

    I only played it for about 30 minutes, but the atmosphere is really intense. I'm waiting for it to get dark again so I can play in a completely dark room.
    I have some high quality headphones for full effect.

    I Bought it on impulse driven (Cause I wanted to see how different it was from steam, I did like the simple interface).

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  94. I had originally torrented this game, and was planning to buy it at a later date; rejoice in knowing this blog made me decide to for real ;)

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  95. I'd like to say thank you for the great game! I saw it on Steam, and although I'd never heard of Frictional or any of their games, you can see the quality in the gameplay video. I bought it right away and I don't think my ass has been unpuckered since. Once I finish playing it, I'm sure I'll go buy Penumbra as well. These kinds of gameplay experiences are a rare and beautiful thing.

    I'd also have to say that ANY comparisons with something like Minecraft is just a plain old bad idea. Even though both devs may be small, the products are so different, and so is the target customer. You'd get more useful numbers from someone like Bethesda, who also only makes niche products, and who ended up outlasting the crazy FPS fads to find success. I hope you guys follow a similar course, and let the vision and quality of what you do, as well as the uniqueness of what you do differently build up your numbers the right way.

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  96. Hi Frictional,

    I bought and played through Amnesia via steam, and enjoyed it. I did my best to convince friends to play it as well, they've been looking for horror games done right. :)

    On the subject of piracy, a business model that has been effective in reducing it is what Valve and Blizzard have been moving toward: "games as a service" rather than a product. You glossed on this idea a little in your blog post when you mentioned minecraft requiring a constant server connection. If you look at Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, and StarCraft 2, those games all require server authentication and players expect future content to be released. Valve has been really good at offering interesting content at no additional cost to users which keeps sales going.

    This in turn drives down piracy because hacking around server authentication is harder, and if they disable it in some way that usually means they're not getting future content. This makes the pirated option much less attractive.

    Of course, for horror games meant for single player experiences, the games as a service model is very difficult to integrate. Certainly you've considered episodic content? Maybe telling the same story but through different characters?

    Have you seen what Demons' Souls on the PS3 did with multiplayer? It's definitely not a horror game like you folks put together but I could see the game mechanics with other players crossing over to make a compelling experience.

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  97. Got the game off of Steam and loved it. One of the most memorable and unique games I've ever played. I plan on buying the penumbra series soon.

    RE: Sales, I see Amnesia as an "adventure" game. I know it's very different than your traditional adventure game, but I still think it appeals to the same niche demographic that adventure games appeal to. Given this, I don't think it will ever be a huge seller. But most great art never sells well. I know that's little consolation when one needs to eat and pay bills, but it's how things have always been,

    I actually think it's a good idea to look at developing cross platforms, just please don't abandon the PC!

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  98. The reason I didn't buy:

    What a wonderful, insightful post, just flat out interesting stuff here.

    There is one reason that I didn't buy your game after trying the demo on mac steam: It was too scary. I don't mean that as praise or criticism in particular, just an observation that some of the scary story-telling you experimented with, really seems to have paid off, but this game, looks like a niche game to real scare-addicts (unlike me).

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  99. Thomas, I would like to speak with you about some opportunities, and a chance to make games with a lot of talented people. You can email me at eo_pipes@msn.com. We can take it from there.

    JMH

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  100. You guys are very talented developers. I can't wait until you guys make bigger games!

    P.S. Have you thought about converting some of your games to XBL and PSN?

    Console gamers are big on FPS games at the moment so I think it would be a great idea... :)

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  101. I agree with the above... I would really wish to play this on the console, especially using the move on ps3 :)

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  102. A bit late to the party here, but I bought the game a couple days ago, though I waited til last night to start it. I had intended to play it in one sitting because it was short, but I'm not going to lie, after the fifth or so monster encounter (about 2/3 of the way through the game, possibly more), I couldn't take anymore and gave up for the night, ha ha.

    Just finished it today. It is a short game. It has very little replay value. But man oh man, I have never been this scared by a game. You guys have made possible the scariest game I've ever played in my life. I'm definitely recommending this game to everyone I meet, and I plan on picking up Penumbra pretty soon. I look forward to what you guys come up with next!

    Thank you for making this game!

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  103. If Amnesia was a rushed game, then I can't wait what will you make if you take your time!

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  104. Indie developers always screw this up - you have a captive audience of Amnesia fans, use it! Take a few members of your team and create a DLC expansion while you're gearing up for your next project. It costs less to develop than an entirely new game and brings in more ongoing revenue, extending the life of your game (and studio).

    You don't make a great piece of intellectual property and then just abandon it because you want to work on something new!

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  105. I had been planning to buy Amnesia for a while and finally got it from Steam. The game is great (I can only play in half an hour bursts or slightly more) and I hope there's still a lot left!

    I'm sorry to hear about the sales but at least you covered your costs. You have to keep in mind that Minecraft might have been a one-off success..look at how many similar games might have failed miserably. Also, such a game would be unlikely to create customer loyalty. On the other hand, you have created a following for your work which is something priceless in the industry (in my opinion).

    Good luck for your next project! Looking forward to it!

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  106. what is the next game u guys are working on?

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  107. Thank you for this pure survival-horror experience.I can't even imagine what this brilliant team would create with a better budget....I hope you eventually overcome your problems and give us another great(or better) game....Just try to be more creative on the gameplay part because amnesia's gameplay has many core similarities with the Penumbra series.Which is not a bad thing...but I think it can be further evolved....

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  108. Hey I just wanted to say I bought your game and Steam sales was a big part of that.

    Can't wait to start playing!

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  109. I have not bought Amnesia, but I have not downloaded it either. Usually I do one or the other, but this time I felt it would have been wrong.

    Developers like you guys are always worth supporting (I'm still considering buying Amnesia), but the genre Amnesia represents is just not my cup of tea. Even if I want to support you I don't want to do it for the sole purpose of supporting you.

    I think a lot of people feel this way. Survival horror is just not a genre that a lot of people are into, especially if it's as well done as this, as crazy as it may sound (I loved the first 3 Resident Evils, but they were hardly scary). That being the case you can't really expect to make millions out of the games. Same thing applies to music: If you make a deathmetal/reggae record you wont sell as much as the guy who made a pop record.

    That doesn't mean you should stop making games like these. This game probably gave you a boost in reputation, which automatically means you're in a place lot better considering the next game (I've been a PC gamer for like 20 years and I had never heard of the Penumbra games).

    What you should do I think is consider just using the same engine for instance. Graphics don't really matter to real gamers, who I presume represent 98% of your customer base. Atmosphere, art direction, plot etc. You know, just create a new environment, a new story, new puzzles and you're good to go. Of course I know very little about the game developing business, so take my words for what they're worth -- 2 cents.

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  110. I think your game will be a bit of a slow burner. I heard about it yesterday and checked some reviews and thought it looked good. Checked on steam and saw it for half price. Have had a little go and instantly thought of half a dozen other people that would enjoy that style of gameplay who i will recommend it to. I think you will enjoy steady sales for quite a while yet

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  111. Hi Frictional,
    I would like to say that Amnesia is "FAR MORE BETTER then my THE-MOST-HORROR-GAME-I-HAVE-EVER-PLAYED" Clive barker's Undying. the atmosphere is hilarous, I can't play it at night :-D Wanna say that you really deserve money we all spent. Be sure that I'm gonna recommend this game to all my friends and IF someone pirate this game, I'll put curse on them (Call Shadow :-)..
    Please continue in your good work, Iˇm looking forward to see more games from you.. (hey, do new horror game, you are asolutely fantastic in this ;-)

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  112. What I would like to see from you is a more light-hearted game. What I have in mind is a murder mystery. A rich old man's only daughter is getting married, but he suspects he fiancée is up to no good. He hires you to come to his mansion and investigate the fiancée's true identity and intentions, but shortly after you arrive the old man dies, seemingly of an accident or natural causes. Now you need to not only investigate the fiancée, but also catch a killer. Put in some plot twists, a gunfight in the greenhouse, and a surprise ending, build it off the gameplay on Amnesia, and you have what I want to play. But make it a real murder mystery where the player is the investigator, not just someone going through the motions while the protagonist character solves the mystery for you if you succeed in getting through all the levels. Perhaps allow for multiple scenarios and solutions with some randomized elements so that it would be difficult to solve the game by past experience or using a walkthrough. It should be done so that even though there may only be say, 4 different scenarios, due to randomization the player would have to think in order to uncover the truth for at least the first few play-throughs.

    I'm sure you will just do the usual super-scary horror thingy you always do, but I really wish you would try something different. Perhaps think of it as having "primary titles" and "secondary titles", where the secondary titles are games that exist to satisfy people like me (meaning those who like your games, but can't handle the fear) and to finance the primary titles, which are the games you really want to do. As far as I'm concerned, it's OK for a secondary title to be nothing more than a mod that was released as a standalone game, so just reuse the assets from Amnesia.

    Oh, well. At least I can dream.

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  113. This is a much older topic now, so I'm not sure if you even check the comments here, but I am glad that Amnesia went above and beyond your expectations in the first month, I can only assume after sitting at #1 on sales for 3 days on steam (even at a steeply discounted price) certainly didn't hurt, yet there's one thing in this post that disturbs me.

    First you compare yourself to minecraft in terms of sales simply due to advertising and budget basically. But it's like comparing apples and oranges, these are two very different games, in two very different genres, with one big difference, there is basically no other game like minecraft. It is it's own category of a legostyle adventure where the entire point is shaping the world to your liking one block at a time. Amnesia is a horror game, and up against a lot of other popular titles in the same genre. Even with the publicity you've gained, it's bad to count out competition as a factor.

    The closest thing to minecraft I could think of would maybe be a sim game, but even those don't hit home. The absolute closest competition I could come up with would of course be Legos, but they're not a video game so I'm not sure how much competition they have there. Whereas if I go look up horror games, or even midieval style horror games, I could come up with 5-10 off the top of my head.

    That's not to say I don't think Piracy is a part of it, with Notch's forced log-in system I'm certain he gets less piracy, but any kind of active DRM like that would not fit with the style of game Amnesia is. But again, I have to say that Notch cornered a market, whereas you made a name in alright rather shrunken market, with many horror games now going action-horror to hit a broader audience due to low sales numbers. Correlation does not necessarily equal causation. Blaming is easy and all but impossible to disprove, but logic tells me I can't believe that is the entire or even the majority of the story here.

    There's also the matter of how you were advertised, I heard from minecraft on youtube with videos with 200k+ views, other than the site (as I loved you guys after the Penumbra tech demo of flying fishthing) the first place I saw amnesia on was the escapist, with yahtzee half praising it half tearing it down. But that's neither here nor there really, just another slightly different perspective on where I think the difference may be.

    Just remember, sooooo many game companies are quick to point the finger at piracy, and not look at all the factors. Don't fall into that trap too. Piracy is bad, and Piracy exists, and I'm sure it hurt your sales, and that does make me sad, but...I think game companies greatly overestimate it's true market value.

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  114. Congratulations on making this masterpiece!
    Frictional games is for gamers what H.P.Lovecraft is for readers!
    I'm sorry to say this, but I did not buy the game (yet). The 20$ are quite much for the average salary in my country, and I also don't have my own salary... We can't even afford basic software here! Piracy is essential for us.
    However, while I am aware that major companies do not need complete support, indie companies such as Frictional Games need as much support as they can get. I am saving up to buy the game, but I would much prefer to donate the money directly to the company.
    Long live Frictional Games!

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  115. First of all, terrific job on Amnesia!
    I didn't get round to buying Penumbra but I got Amnesia full-price on Steam after trying the demo. Sadly, I can hardly play it at all just because I can't handle the horror. Still, awesome game!
    Next step for you guys is making something a la Dead Space but with less shooting. You've done contemporary and fantasy/middle ages, now go for a futuristic design! :D

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