By Nathan Grayson on September 11th, 2012 at 11:00 am.
It’s easy to forget Amnesia. And I don’t mean that in the sense that it’s a forgettable experience (it’s most certainly not) or that amnesia, the unfortunate mental condition, might lead to forgetfulness (duh). Rather, Dark Descent’s been out for two years, and it’s become pretty far removed from the public eye. Sure, it’ll occasionally pop up on the cover of some trashy tabloid rag (Did you know that it’s become both fat and Bigfoot?), but thechineseroom-developed A Machine For Pigs is now the series’ main attention hog. Over on Frictional’s blog, though, there’s an “Amnesia – Two Years Later” post that provides some super interesting info about the oppressively scary hit’s present and a brief taste of what Frictional’s up to now.
In short, the first-person horror (or third-person watch-people-on-YouTube-freak-out-er, depending on how you choose to consume it) has nearly sold a million units, but that’s not the interesting part. See, even after two years, it hasn’t really slowed down. Frictional explained:
“The monthly full price sales lie at over 10, 000 units. This means that less then every 5th minute, someone in the world is buying a copy of Amnesia. The figures themselves are far beyond any guesses we would have made two years ago. It is also insane, because this number is actually higher than it was around three months after initial launch. That a game can still be going this good two years after is truly remarkable. This success is due to many factors, some of which are the uniqueness of the game (horror games without combat do not really exist on PC), the large modding community, and the steady flood of YouTube clips (which is in turn is fueled by the modding community output).”
That, of course, is a pretty nice validation of what PC folks like ourselves constantly pester developers about including in their games. I mean, you can mince words over time, manpower, logistics, and the like, but can’t argue with hard numbers. It’s also a fascinating look into the brave new world of game promotion. Obviously, not every game lends itself as well to YouTube runs and mods as Amnesia, but – in this age of multi-quadrillion dollar ad campaigns – there’s something to be said for honest community outreach. Here, though, is a really amazing bit:
“It has been over a year since we even thought about piracy. With sales as good as above we cannot really see this as an issue worth more than two lines in this post, so screw it.”
So now we have everything from companies that complain they’re losing 90 percent of their sales to piracy, to others that use it as a means of promotion, to others still – like Frictional – who’ve basically declared it a non-factor. On the whole, though, it’s fantastic to see developers learning to cope and even thrive in this environment. More money for them means more games for awesome, boundary-pushing games for us. Speaking of:
“At Frictional Games our main concern is our new super secret project. We do not want to say much about this project yet,but we can disclose that it will be horror and that it will be first-person. One of the things I was most disappointed with in Amnesia was that it never really managed to deliver any deeper themes, but was more like a shallow fright-fest. For the new project we want to change that and really try and bring a certain theme to the front. Our hope is that this will create a very special experience, creating horror in a much more disturbing way.”
For now, the developer’s pinned its nightmarish hopes and dreams on a 2014 release date, but plenty’s still subject to change at this point. In spite of that, Frictional ends by saying it has no immediate plans to expand beyond 11 people. Its reasoning? “We do our best to keep our feet firmly on the ground, to be strict on deadlines and to always remember our humble pasts. At the same time we will not take any easy solutions and play it safe. After the successes we have had, I think it is our responsibility to use our money and independence the best way possible.”
Yeah, I think that’s a pretty neat thing.