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.”