Sanctum 2 Developer Says Console Ports Were "A Bad Idea"

Sanctum 2 Developer Says Console Ports Were "A Bad Idea"

Sanctum 2 screen

The co-founder of Sanctum 2 developer Coffee Stain Studios says 95 percent of the game's sales have come from the PC.

The tower defense/FPS hybrid Sanctum 2 didn't exactly set the world on fire, but it was a pretty decent game and, more importantly, made enough money to keep Coffee Stain Studios in business - and these days, what more can an indie developer ask for? But in a post-mortem written late last week, studio co-founder Johannes Aspeby revealed that despite being a multi-platform title, its success lies exclusively with the PC version of the game, while the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 releases were a bust.

The post discusses both what went right and what went wrong with the game, and number two on the list of things that didn't work out is simply, "Consoles." Developing for consoles resulted in a more stable game with lower PC requirements, but it also forced the studio to crunch "a lot" to meet deadlines and imposed limits on that the PC version would not have otherwise required. And when all was said and done, "The payoff hasn't been anywhere near the work," Aspeby wrote. "Seeing all your hard work resulting in sales that don't come near the effort is very demoralizing."

Developing add-on content was problematic as well. PlayStation 3 sales were so bad that the studio gave up on it, but it forged ahead with an expansion for the Xbox 360, in part because so much work had already been done. "Before we knew sales we had started setting everything up for DLC since we thought we were going to strike gold. Or at least find a silver vein," he continued. "In retrospect we should just have looked at the figures and seen that the work wasn't going to pay off and killed our darling with a hatchet."

Sanctum 2 was enough of a success to keep Coffee Stain's lights on, but it doesn't sound like it will be rushing to get future projects onto consoles. "In retrospect the console ports were a bad idea - we've made about 95% of our revenue from PC, so having a day 1 port is not something we want to do again," Aspeby concluded. "We're still unsure of why we sold so much more on Steam than on consoles, but if we'd take a guess we'd say that it could be because visibility is much easier to get on Steam with daily deals, free weekends, etc, compared to consoles, where we got pretty much no visibility at all."

Source: Gamasutra

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I didn't even know Sanctum 2 was on consoles at all, so yeah, I'd say visibility was an issue.

JarinArenos:
I didn't even know Sanctum 2 was on consoles at all, so yeah, I'd say visibility was an issue.

Likewise for me. Sounds like their ports had no chance to start with as I tend to view whats new to the PSN store weekly and never saw this game on there (maybe I missed it). I assume it isn't on disk either which is another hit against it.

If they can't fix the visibility issue than they should just ask Sony (if they make another one) to make their game available for free on release through +. At least than they get some money and a lot of visibility for any future games.

now, now, ill be the first to brag about how amazing is PC, but i dont think they should rule out consoles just yet, is still a market for potential sales, maybe if their next game has a different approach, it might be worth a shot, some games sell more on consoles, some games sell more on PC, tower defense games... yeah thats pretty much PC territory

plus like he said, visibility is important, hell i myself just checked the weeklong deals on steam, and dat supreme commander is giving me the eyes

this week's selection is actually quite strong, supreme commander, sonic all stars racing, sonic generations, men of war and unity of command, i can say men of war is a good, unique RTS and ive heard good stuff from the rest as well

Rozalia1:

JarinArenos:
I didn't even know Sanctum 2 was on consoles at all, so yeah, I'd say visibility was an issue.

Likewise for me. Sounds like their ports had no chance to start with as I tend to view whats new to the PSN store weekly and never saw this game on there (maybe I missed it). I assume it isn't on disk either which is another hit against it.

If they can't fix the visibility issue than they should just ask Sony (if they make another one) to make their game available for free on release through +. At least than they get some money and a lot of visibility for any future games.

yeah, maybe they could rely on PS+ to get some of that money back, i wonder if Sony gives em a call of they give a call to Sony

didnt know there was a release for the console. i only saw it on pc. they should stick to pc anyway. we already have way to many crappy ports from console to pc.

Really, they're surprised?

Outside of a select few super successful games (super meat boy, minecraft) has there actually been a single smaller indie game that has done as well on consoles as it has PC?

It's been shown time and time again that the 360/PS3 marketplaces are trash for visibility and marketing.

Say what you will about consoles vs PC, but steam/greenman/getgames etc. categorically shits all over anything the current or next gen consoles have to offer in terms of a digital storefront. (and that's even with all the bs shovel-ware steam has allowed onto the front page of late)

NuclearKangaroo:
now, now, ill be the first to brag about how amazing is PC, but i dont think they should rule out consoles just yet, is still a market for potential sales, maybe if their next game has a different approach, it might be worth a shot, some games sell more on consoles, some games sell more on PC, tower defense games... yeah thats pretty much PC territory

But when the cost of licensing to release on those consoles is probably more than the revenue generated, it becomes an issue. I mean seriously when SDK's for console development have an initial outlay of anywhere between $2000 - $10,000 and you can't even rely on store visibility to generate interest. You have to cut your loses.

Maybe down the line the new Sony publishing model will be worth looking into, but for a small indie, $20,000 is effectively the difference between going bankrupt or getting the release.

Rellik San:

NuclearKangaroo:
now, now, ill be the first to brag about how amazing is PC, but i dont think they should rule out consoles just yet, is still a market for potential sales, maybe if their next game has a different approach, it might be worth a shot, some games sell more on consoles, some games sell more on PC, tower defense games... yeah thats pretty much PC territory

But when the cost of licensing to release on those consoles is probably more than the revenue generated, it becomes an issue. I mean seriously when SDK's for console development have an initial outlay of anywhere between $2000 - $10,000 and you can't even rely on store visibility to generate interest. You have to cut your loses.

Maybe down the line the new Sony publishing model will be worth looking into, but for a small indie, $20,000 is effectively the difference between going bankrupt or getting the release.

ouch, i guess you are right

well i think the dev's idea is right then, no day one ports, wait to see if you are successful on PC, then consider a console port, which will obviously leave microsoft out thanks to their stupid dumb idiot launch parity policy

Rellik San:

NuclearKangaroo:
now, now, ill be the first to brag about how amazing is PC, but i dont think they should rule out consoles just yet, is still a market for potential sales, maybe if their next game has a different approach, it might be worth a shot, some games sell more on consoles, some games sell more on PC, tower defense games... yeah thats pretty much PC territory

But when the cost of licensing to release on those consoles is probably more than the revenue generated, it becomes an issue. I mean seriously when SDK's for console development have an initial outlay of anywhere between $2000 - $10,000 and you can't even rely on store visibility to generate interest. You have to cut your loses.

Maybe down the line the new Sony publishing model will be worth looking into, but for a small indie, $20,000 is effectively the difference between going bankrupt or getting the release.

ouch, i guess you are right

well i think the dev's idea is right then, no day one ports, wait to see if you are successful on PC, then consider a console port, which will obviously leave microsoft out thanks to their stupid dumb idiot launch parity policy

ron1n:
Really, they're surprised?

Outside of a select few super successful games (super meat boy, minecraft) has there actually been a single smaller indie game that has done as well on consoles as it has PC?

It's been shown time and time again that the 360/PS3 marketplaces are trash for visibility and marketing.

Say what you will about consoles vs PC, but steam/greenman/getgames etc. categorically shits all over anything the current or next gen consoles have to offer in terms of a digital storefront. (and that's even with all the bs shovel-ware steam has allowed onto the front page of late)

actually...

both of those games did significantly better on PC, SMB for instance, despite being released first on XBLA, it sold much better on steam, in fact, of the 1000000+ copies the game sold, 70% come from steam

and id be inclined to think at this point those sales are around 80% or more, since according to ars technica, SMB is in the top 100 best selling games on steam, with around 1400000 copies sold

i think skullgirls and towerfall did better on consoles tough

NuclearKangaroo:
now, now, ill be the first to brag about how amazing is PC, but i dont think they should rule out consoles just yet

From reading the article, it sounds like they are just ruling out day one ports, not ports entirely.

NuclearKangaroo:

actually...

both of those games did significantly better on PC, SMB for instance, despite being released first on XBLA, it sold much better on steam, in fact, of the 1000000+ copies the game sold, 70% come from steam

and id be inclined to think at this point those sales are around 80% or more, since according to ars technica, SMB is in the top 100 best selling games on steam, with around 1400000 copies sold.

To be fair, wasn't there also a massive fallout between between Ed McMillen/Himsl and Microsoft because MS basically breached contract terms about visibility, but threatened to sue all living hell out of McMillen and Himsl if they released it on other formats before the exclusivity deal was up, Team Meat being nearly bankrupt and just worn the hells out by the work schedule MS whipped them into, they had neither the finances or energy to fight it.

Seriously, you should watch Indiegame the Movie, because what McMillen and Himsl went through was nothing short of hell.

Rellik San:

NuclearKangaroo:

actually...

both of those games did significantly better on PC, SMB for instance, despite being released first on XBLA, it sold much better on steam, in fact, of the 1000000+ copies the game sold, 70% come from steam

and id be inclined to think at this point those sales are around 80% or more, since according to ars technica, SMB is in the top 100 best selling games on steam, with around 1400000 copies sold.

To be fair, wasn't there also a massive fallout between between Ed McMillen/Himsl and Microsoft because MS basically breached contract terms about visibility, but threatened to sue all living hell out of McMillen and Himsl if they released it on other formats before the exclusivity deal was up, Team Meat being nearly bankrupt and just worn the hells out by the work schedule MS whipped them into, they had neither the finances or energy to fight it.

Seriously, you should watch Indiegame the Movie, because what McMillen and Himsl went through was nothing short of hell.

geez, that sounds terrible

Somethingfake:

NuclearKangaroo:
now, now, ill be the first to brag about how amazing is PC, but i dont think they should rule out consoles just yet

From reading the article, it sounds like they are just ruling out day one ports, not ports entirely.

yeah they could do that, test the waters on PC, and if its good enough and the platform allows it, port it to consoles and make some extra bucks

I'm surprised at them actually acting surprised in general, does he honestly think and truly believe that consoles are the no. 1 hotbed for tower defence games?, RTS games?, come on get down with reality, it's not been like that at all for years and he goes and jumps into it anyway without prior market research, not even a swot, come on...

Besides in terms of visibility I can't see shit that looks good to me on Steams front page, haven't for over a year and a half at least since the flood gates were properly opened and there being no full proper QA, besides console front pages are drastically different from a PC's (if not Steam's as an example), again no research at all.

My mind is just blown how game devs can just make a game, expecting to throw it onto consoles and expecting it to make Minecraft money without so much as a few days if not a weeks full researching into that market, don't expect, look into it.

Even I a gamer who for years has gamed across consoles and PC, has played both FPS and RTS games on the different platforms can tell you that this was not the best of ideas, if I can tell you that what hope do these devs have for common sense?.

I'm sorry but I can't give these guys a single fuck, no not when there wasn't any thought/research put into it, their game isn't exactly stellar shit anyway so there's that too.

image

What kind of engine are they using that porting the thing isn't even worth 5% sales?

I think the answer is quite simple. Their games wasn't 'indie' enough. Console stores have contitioned the market to think there are either small file size, sub $10 games that are the artsy little mainly 2d indie games and the big glorious AAA monsters and really not much in between.

Unless Microsoft or Sony are pushing your product their stores are a dead zone for visibility. Not many gamers like downloading large, relatively more expensive, downloadable titles yet. I don't think there is much of a space in the console market for games like this. It isn't geared towards them.

Tarfeather:
What kind of engine are they using that porting the thing isn't even worth 5% sales?

Unity, I believe.
Though the issues of cost are is less about the engine and more about the royalties/service fees on consoles.

 

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