Bethesda – who’ve recently won a bunch of awards for marketing – has proved that a game doesn’t have to be any good to sell well. They published the interesting (on paper) first-person, free-running class-based shooter by Splash Damage called Brink.
If you were one of the unfortunate people that paid real money for it, you’d know how just how terrible it was. Well, it’s made a fortune.
“With Splash Damage, we finished Brink, and it’s estimated to have sold more than 2.5 million units worldwide, which at retail would mean that it’s generated around $120-140 million in revenue,” said Splash Damage CEO Paul Wedgwood to Gamasutra, rather optimistically, because most people only bought that infernal trash after it hit bargain bins.
Unfortunately for them it hasn’t resulted in them swimming in piles of money – because most of the money’s gone to Bethesda.
“But of course, as an independent video game developer, we don’t earn that kind of revenue, as we’re not the publisher of the title… but we could see there was the potential to serve our fans content directly, and while we don’t want to take anything away from what Splash Damage does, we wanted a vehicle that we can dedicate exclusively to that pursuit.”
Because well, making money’s an awesome thing to actually do, Splash Damage has set up its own publisher, WarChest, that’ll focus on free-to-play games. While you might groan and roll your eyes at the idea, F2P titles are becoming increasingly, well, awesome – and many of them remain fun without you having to spend a cent. Take a look at Tribes: Ascend if you don’t believe me. Splash Damage wants to do that sort of thing – make free-to-play games that aren’t exploitative.
“You have this market of gamers, whether they’re playing on iPhones or on PCs, who for most part are being exploited by absolute free-to-play crap through compulsion loop mechanics, paywalls and pay-to-win strategies which serve nobody well,” said Wedgewood. “So there’s both an opportunity for us to create stuff that is really good quality that we really love making that isn’t exploitative free-to-play crap, but at the same time to produce the types of games that large publishers wouldn’t option.”
Sounds good to me, but it’s a bit of a pity - because it likely means Brink 2 won’t ever happen, and I genuinely think there’s a decent experience hidden there somewhere, if it just gets the right bit of spit and polish.