Amnesia Devs Hint At Next Project, Dismiss Piracy

By Nathan Grayson on September 11th, 2012 at 11:00 am.

ok right then i am going to shine this lamp behind me now and hope the next pile i come across is kittens - LIVING kittens.

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.

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62 Comments »

  1. Mr. Mister says:

    Screw it.

    And yes, the more emotionally disturbing (I think that’s what they are after, not just instincitivally) their next project is, the better.
    Seems Thomas Grip has a paper regarding this, “The Self, Presence and Storytelling”. http://unbirthgame.com/TheSelfPresenceStorytelling.pdf
    Also,
    “I think we have never disclosed how much we Amnesia cost to make, so might as well do that here. The (exactly) three years of development cost a total of 360 000 US Dollars. It has since earned more than ten times that. Take that investors we talked to in 2009!”

    Yeah, take that!

    • billyblaze says:

      Somewhat frightened by the contents of the PDF. Amnesia scared me plenty, and now Frictional wants to screw with my sense of self? Help.

    • Revisor says:

      Wow, that paper is very interesting. It’s called a bit enigmatically, “The Self, Presence and Storytelling” but it’s actually about immersion – and there are some great details in it.

      Highly recommended!
      http://unbirthgame.com/TheSelfPresenceStorytelling.pdf

    • HilariousCow says:

      http://www.half-real.net/

      Possibly relevant? Jesper Juul argues that the player is half there via their agency through the game character, but can choose to become one with, or separate from, the psyche of the character at the drop of a hat.

  2. thaumoradiance says:

    Really awesome, lovely news. The title picture, on the other hand…

  3. Uglycat says:

    On Reddit, Amnesia seems to pop up every 5th post on r/gaming, and will automatically be mentioned as soon as the word ‘scary’ is introduced, resulting in a beatdown of any contender to the throne of ‘pant-wettingly frightening game’.

    It’s recently competing with Slenderman, but I think they’ve got a lot of mileage left in it.

  4. povu says:

    I’m glad I pre-ordered Amnesia. Especially afterwards when they said how close to bankruptcy they were.

  5. Roshin says:

    I didn’t even know Amnesia had a modding community.

    • Richeh says:

      When you think about it, it’s the perfect game to stimulate a modding community.

      “oh god it’s coming, it’s coming, getinthecupboard, pleasedon’tletitseeme SCREW THIS I’M MODDING IN A SHOTGUN”

  6. Yosharian says:

    I still can’t fucking play this game, I tried again a week ago but it just fucking shits me up

    • RaytraceRat says:

      I really tried to buy Amnesia, but after playing a demo I uninstalled it faster than you can say “holly crap! what was that?!” It’s freaking scary…

      • Mr. Mister says:

        If that’s so, then I think the game deserves at least to be aquired by you, don’t you agree? After all, it seems the demo pwned you.

        • Blackseraph says:

          This is what I did. These people deserved my monetary support.

          • Ruffian says:

            Same here, only mine happened after playing penumbra on a disc or random indie games given to me by a friend. After that first experience in the creepy mine shafts being chased by wolves and mutant worms, I was a fan for life.

  7. RR_Raptor65 says:

    The success of Amnesia is that it’s just a well done game. The gameplay is solid and has a way of drawing you in, the environment is unique, even attractive in it’s own way and the story is effective at enhancing the game without dominating it.

    Other publishers and developers would do well to take notes.

  8. Baboonanza says:

    Yeah, but without piracy they would have sold 100 MILLION UNITS!!

    Glad to hear they’re doing so well, especially after the tribulations of making Amnesia.

    • RaytraceRat says:

      Don’t forget that PC piracy is at 95%, which means the would sell 95% of gazzilions of games more!

      • Cropduster says:

        Although many of those would be people who can’t afford it/ won’t pay more than free/ don’t have a credit card, so not really lost sales.

  9. Shiny says:

    They didn’t say piracy was a non-factor in their revenue. They’ve just made enough money that it’s not important. Good for them, but “make a wildly successful game for really cheap” isn’t exactly a repeatable strategy to dampen the effects of piracy.

    Weird that gaming pundits always take companies to task for DRM but never criticize the root cause of it, piracy. Not to mention the fact that piracy results in fewer PC games getting made, period.

    • GepardenK says:

      Ever heard of the term “The end does not justify the mean”? DRM is a conscious decition that end up punishing all your costumers in one way or another. Thats like saying all polish people (or in this case PC gamers) are criminals so Im gonna put a security guard on each of them when they enter my store. Its crazy and probably racist

      Piracy is this undefined mass that will always be there. It has been since the first cassetes. But the film, music and game indusrty is still growing larger by the minute, so no problem there. You learn to live with it, just like fishermenn learn to live with storms. Piracy, like storms, are simply a part of the current enviorment, and complaining about it won’t help

    • CaLe says:

      What are you, some kind of expert on piracy or something? Did you get your Ph.D in piracy and digital rights management, then go on to travel the world giving lectures on the disastrous effects piracy has on the gaming industry?

      Or are you an armchair blow hard?

      • Squishpoke says:

        Great job on polishing up your ad-hominem skills. There’s a good chap.

    • alundra says:

      And the root of piracy is?? Too high prices, regional locks, buggy programs, unsupported software, crapware, draconian drm…..

      I loved your “period” bit, the trademark of the angry internet geek, believing their conditions is everybody else’s as well.

    • doho7744 says:

      Every industry has loss, it’s called shrinkage. The entertainment industry is just more disingenuous in that they claim to be the only ones suffering from its effects.

    • biz says:

      it’s just RPS and the other closed-minded anti-DRM critics. lots of journalists have actually talked to enough developers/publishers realize why developers / publishers move away from PC gaming or traditional business models.

      the perception that piracy significantly decreases sales is detrimental to PC gaming. tons of well-informed developers/publishers have this perception (it’s probably a valid claim). what those people think determines what games get made and what platforms they get made for. RPS being full of pro-piracy people probably reinforces that perception.

      • Xan says:

        So you’re one of those people that believes that Ubisoft games had a 95% piracy rate and that always online DRM or one that allows a limited number of installs will actually sell more copies of the game?

        • GepardenK says:

          Pretty much this. A publishers role is to sell as many copies of the game as possible. They should never spend money on DRM and alienate some customers unless they are absolutely sure that this DRM will grant them a huge number of extra sales

  10. jellydonut says:

    Oh great, another horror game.

    Still, good for them I guess, hope they sell lots. Maybe the next game won’t be a horror game. :p

  11. Hanban says:

    I’m never going to try Amnesia. Never, never, never.

    • Mr. Mister says:

      That’s quite the biased statement right there.

      At least support Frictional by trying Penumbra.

      • Hanban says:

        Is Penumbra also a scary game? Because in that case I won’t try that either.

        I am one of those people who find that it does not make any sense to watch scary movies because feeling scared is not a comfortable feeling. I am sure Amnesia is quite competent at being a scary game, which is exactly why I won’t try it.

        • Mr. Mister says:

          It can be scary, but it’s not a horror game at all (not Overture at least).

          I actually like it more for the story and how you can sense everything thorugh the notes.

          • Kaira- says:

            Penumbras are very much horror games, and I’d say even more so and succesful than Amnesia, though your mileage may vary.

          • Ruffian says:

            I actually enjoyed penumbra 1 & 2 much more than Amnesia on account of the modern setting and more sci-fi tone of the story/environment. But yes it is just about as scary if not more so. Though you can fight back to some degree in the first penumbra, so that diminishes the fear a bit. It’s just with like a crowbar and dropping barrels and crates on stuff though so it’s not too empowering…lol. Great games.

  12. Nickless_One says:

    “A Machine For Pigs is now the series’ main attention hog”

    I sow what you did there…

    • Planet9 says:

      Another pun thread eh? I for one wish we could get bacon track.

      • DestructibleEnvironments says:

        These pun threads do not behoof me.

      • jrodman says:

        At this rate, we’ll have to scrapple this thread and start over.

      • Fanbuoy says:

        This. These things are really ham-pering the discussion. I would prefer a boar serious approach.

  13. Liquidoodle says:

    This is wicked news for them, I bought the game cheap in the steam sale recently however their upcoming titles will be on instant day one buy simply because the game was great, scared the living cack out of me and made up for my current disappointment with Resident Evil and Dead Space.

  14. pakoito says:

    >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.

    Well, at least they acknowledge it. Good that they’re pushing the envelope for their next game.

    • Kaira- says:

      If Amnesia could explore themes like Silent Hill did and have a bit better replayability-factor, it might be one of the top 5 horror games in my list. Amnesia was still really good, though.

      • eclipse mattaru says:

        May I ask what are your top 5 horror games, if Amnesia doesn’t make the list? I’m not sure there are even 5 games I would label “horror” at all, let alone “top 5″.

        Regardless, I do agree that a game with the atmosphere of Amnesia and the storytelling and symbolism of Silent Hill 2 would be the greatest thing in the history of ever.

  15. Richeh says:

    Developer talks about statistic-bending sales figures.

    Developer talks about tenfold return on investment with an indie game that is still selling.

    Developer takes pains to talk about “what disappointed them most” in said game.

    Respect due. That’s some development integrity there.

    • Zanchito says:

      Then you get Ubisoft spweing crap about their DRM and impossibility to disclose actual piracy figures and people defending that attitude. This, on the other hand, I can commend.

  16. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Good on them they deserve it, I’ve been shouting their name at everyone I meet for years because in my opinion they’re one of a handful of devs to take some ideas of the immersive sim and remove the teenage shooting gallery usually attached, making a shorter game that flows better and is ultimately more immersive.

  17. Reapy says:

    I enjoyed playing it, but I was stressed to hell and back again during the process, so didn’t get very far. This whole steam big picture mode might have me give it another shot to see if I can make it a bit further. Also, amnesia mods….hrmmm must investigate!

  18. Ridnarhtim says:

    When you make a game as good and unique as Amnesia, you don’t need to worry about piracy.

  19. Derppy says:

    Oculus Rift + head tracking, ’nuff said.

    • Mr. Mister says:

      SPecially since there isn’t any weapon to aim, head tracking could be directly used to lead the character.

      Now we only need arm tracking for the lantern. Doesn’t seem that complicated as a gun.

      • Derppy says:

        Controlling the the facing of the character with your head would be weird, just have freelook.

        You turn your body with the mouse or analog stick, but instead of your character being a frozen block like in regular FPS games, have the head turn as you look around.

        Takes the immersion to the next level, feels natural after a minute or two.

        The only thing that feels odd when using a system like TrackIR in FPS is that the center of your screen is no longer necessarily the point your character is facing / aiming like you are used to.

        If people have issues with that, offer an optional, minimal UI element such as a thin dashed line from the center of the screen to the point your character is aiming at, or a transparent curved line at the bottom, with small arrow showing how much off-center your head has turned.

    • Ruffian says:

      this. would. be. awesome.

  20. Skabooga says:

    It would be interesting to see the ratio of people who played the game through once to people who bought the game, and compare that to the ratio for other games. In this case, though, people wouldn’t be completing it because it is so darn good at what it does.

  21. doggod101 says:

    Wait The Chinese Room is developing Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs? well I’m sure it will be a great setpiece.

  22. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    “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.”

    In fact, ve DARE you all to pirate our next game and see if we care!