Blimey: Prison Architect Made $100k In 72 Hours

By Jim Rossignol on September 30th, 2012 at 9:46 am.


Eurogamer are reporting that Introversion’s Prison Architect Alpha access has been a significant success, with $100,000 made in the first 72 hours. There were 2667 sales, with four people opting for the $1000 Warden-creating option. Mark Morris said he and Delay are “absolutely stunned”.

You buy into the alpha here.

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92 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    Luringen says:

    I’ll buy it when the price drops and the worst bugs has been ironed out. 30$ is a bit too much for me ATM.

    • Godwhacker says:

      Yes, I think they’d have tripled that number if they were charging $10 for it.

      • igotkilled says:

        If they charged 1/3 what they are, and three times more people bought it, they would still have the same amount of money made from the sales.

        • Gnoupi says:

          Less, actually, in terms of raw income, since you have fixed fees to each transaction processed.
          Potentially more, though, if you take the fact that your user base is now 3 times bigger, and now easier to spread the word.

          • AngoraFish says:

            Why not, on this logic, just give the game away for free?

          • razorramone says:

            Because zero multiplied by anything is still zero… dum dum

          • Nethlem says:

            @AngoraFish
            That’s what piracy is for, if something gets shared/spread madly it usually receives huge hype that ends up drives sales up. The lower the barrier of entry, the bigger the potential customer base.

            Mobile games and Apps work mostly on that basis, sell something for 99 cent and many people will consider buying it without knowing much about it. Sell the same thing for 10€ and it’s an whole different story.

            Keep the barrier of entry low and you will reach a way bigger market penetration compared to having a high barrier of entry (price).

        • Godwhacker says:

          Wait, so 100000 * 3 = 100000?

          Your maths is exciting.

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            Try rereading what he actually wrote. It’s more 100.000 / 3 * 3.

          • Dux Ducis Hodiernus says:

            Wouldn’t (100.000 / 3) * 3 = X be more correct?

        • ascagnel says:

          This is true, except for any processing fees (Steam is rumored to be 30% of the listed price) and ancillary things like running servers for multiplayer or support costs.

          And holy shit is support expensive. Where I work, just having someone pick up a support call costs something like $12, and more to get it resolved properly.

      • AngoraFish says:

        Well, tripling it would simply leave them breaking even on your numbers, plus they would be reducing future potential sales by 300%. (edit: 200%)

        Sales ≠ Profits

        My guess is that they will be very happy for people complaining about the price to wait 18 months for the inevitable Humble Bundle, when they’re simply picking up a little bit of extra cream on top of their already substantial profits.

        • Fokissed says:

          >reducing future potential sales by 300%.
          care to explain how negative potential sales works? Would 200% of people who bought the game want a refund?

          • AngoraFish says:

            People inclined to buy at $10 but not at $30 would presumable still be inclined to buy at $10 when the price comes down in future sales. Therefore, you get the benefit of all the 33% buying at $30 plus the 66% buying at $10 vs 100% buying at $10.

            Look, if people can’t quite grasp the idea that you maximise your profit with early adopters then skim cheapskates at the tail end then I’m not going to convince you in a blog post. If you are running a business, however, please let me know where to find you as I’d like to drop by and pick up the latest blockbuster release at post Christmas sale prices.

          • tetracycloide says:

            Customers are not perfectly insensitive to time. There’s a risk with waiting to drop the price that people will loose interest. It’s not safe to assume that anyone who would pay $10 now would be willing to wait and pay $10 later. Those aren’t substitutes for one another.

        • Sic says:

          You’re forgetting that this is all about timing.

          What you want is momentum throughout the entire period.

          Selling an alpha version of an indie game at $30 is not a way to get momentum.

          A better solution would be selling the alpha cheap, the beta more expensive, the full version at something like $30, and then discount it later.

      • Syt says:

        Not necessarily. Let’s say they sell 1,000 at the price of $30. Might be they sell 3,000 at $10. More likely, they’ll sell either more (3,500) or less (2,500) than that. Price elasticity of demand is not a linear function, and finding the sweet spot that maximizes your revenue (price x items sold) is tricky.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          And lets not forget, those people priced out of the game at the moment may well pick it up if/ when it is cheaper.

          Also lets not forget that the game is not yet finished and the devs are hoping that those who are prepared to pay a high amount for the game are less likely to complain about the bugs in a non-constructive way and more likely to recommend it to their friends on release!

          Anyone who tells anyone economics is an easy option in education is severely misleading you!

          • Delusibeta says:

            Don’t forget that the price was very deliberately chosen to make sure only the people who really, really want to play the game now pays the money. It is an alpha, after all, and it’s going to have some major bugs. The last thing Introversion wants is a bunch of people finding a bug and proclaiming the game shit.

        • Treebard says:

          Came here to say pretty much that.

      • aerozol says:

        Kind of sick of people on here second-guessing pricing strategies without having a good think about it.
        How they make the most money is by charging a large amount (but not so much that it wont generate a decent customer base/buzz), so the game is seen as ‘valuable’. Then when they drop the price to 10$ a few weeks/months later everyone else who would have bought it at that price anyway is all over it anyway, and even more so, because you’re ‘saving’ money. Ka-ching.
        Makes sense to me.

        • MrEvilGuy says:

          I agree aerozol. Sick and disgusting!

        • tetracycloide says:

          Makes sense to you because you’re mistaking this for a finished product with a lot of hype and polish and mistaking customers for complete idiots.

    • Premium User Badge

      Carra says:

      I’ll wait a bit too. The $10-15 would be an instant buy, $20 is still doable.

      Ah pricing, maybe add a $20 tier that gets you the game but no alpha access.

    • Unaco says:

      “I’ll buy it when the price drops and the worst bugs has been ironed out

      You understand what an Alpha is, right? I think they’ve done the right thing… their biggest worry was everyone piling in, some of these ‘worst bugs’ being found, and everyone crying that the game doesn’t work. By keeping the price up, the numbers down, they’ll have people more interested and invested in working through the Alpha phase, and not throwing a sh*t-fit over bugs.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        Maybe they should explain that it’s a proper alpha/beta test not a marketing pre-order thing

        • Unaco says:

          Like they do, already, in the video on the pre-order page? Where they say that, as an Alpha customer, there are things to be aware of, such as that the game isn’t finished? And it’s buggy? They should explain it’s a proper Alpha like that you mean?

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Wow! I’ve missed the old passive aggressive, or in this case, just purely aggressive Unaco back. You’ve been surprisingly pleasant these last few months, good to see you’re on the mend again, I’m sure I shall be blocking you once again very soon.

            By they, I meant RPS and my point was really more focused on the daftness of calling essentially a pre-order demo an alpha test.

          • Unaco says:

            Why do you have to make this personal? Why the personal attacks? Sigh… I wasn’t trying to attack you, or be passive aggressive or anything like that. Just pointing out, with tongue in cheek, that Introversion have made it abundantly clear that this is an Alpha.

            But YOU weren’t clear about whether Introversion or RPS should make clear it’s an Alpha, and I’m to blame for your poor communication and the ambiguity of your statement? And instead of dealing with that, you just say “you’re passive aggressive, I’m going to block you! Wah Wah Wah”.

            By the way, I think RPS have also made it abundantly clear that it’s an Alpha in the interview, and where-ever they say “Prison Architect ALPHA Access” rather than “Prison Architect Pre-order Early Access”.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Unaco. Do you agree or disagree that it is increasingly common for devs to allow consumers access to alpha/beta versions of their game while having no interest in the feedback those customers may generate?

            Which in my books, being the older and old fashioned person I am does not make it an alpha or beta test. It is simply a publicity stunt, or a marketing tool.

            My point was, that if people are going to get confused because of the misappropriating of terms by other devs, maybe a straight forward line pointing out to the kiddies who clearly are getting a bit confused, that this is NOT like those other games they bought early access too, this game REALLY is in alpha may ease some of the confusion.

            As to your problem with me getting personal towards you, check our mutual comment history. I know why you don’t remember me, because you were equally virulent to everyone who happened to disagree with you, but I remember you alright as one of the worst posters on this site. Not worst as in absolutely the worst, plenty of people are bigger trolls or ruder or whatever – worst because you are clearly very intelligent and capable of not being such a wierdo. I even printed off about 100 of your comments to show people how to recognise textbook passive aggressive behaviour on text based forums.

            For quite a while now, you’ve proven you have gotten over this and you are no longer that person. I still got that little clutch of dread every time I saw your name and yet, time and time again you were pleasant, eloquent with your points, respectful of opinion and yet in command of all the facts.

            I’m hoping I have let our personal history cloud my opinion and you haven’t slipped, but I fear you are going back to your old ways. Sorry if I’m wrong, it’s just how I feel.

          • Unaco says:

            Please, don’t get personal, I ask… So you go off on a another personal attack. Never heard of the phrase “play the ball and not the man”? I’m just going to ignore you now, because you seem to be goading, and don’t seem be willing to discuss the subject.

          • CptPlanet says:

            Sheng-Ji, I definitely don’t agree with you or with RPS’ wording for that matter. I don’t understand why you would think that devs who do the pre-order thing view it as a marketing tool. It’s simple, you don’t “buy” into a test. You pre-order the game and as a privilege you get into the test. It’s almost the same if you pre-order the game and get nothing…except you do in this kind of situations.

        • Premium User Badge

          BubuIIC says:

          But they do state that very clearly in their video. “This game is not finished.”, “… game breaking bugs…”, “…not written this bit yet.”, etc. Clear enough for me anyway, I’ll wait and play the game when it’s in a more finished state.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          wrong place :D

    • frightlever says:

      “I’ll buy it when the price drops and the worst bugs has been ironed out. 30$ is a bit too much for me ATM.”

      Personally I’ll buy it when the price drops and a majority of people are saying it’s a fun game. Every previous Introversion release has swiftly turned into a turgid slug after a few levels. Please feel free to tell me I’m wrong. I’m not. Those guys have no idea how to polish for mass appeal, or they have no interest in doing so. Sure, they have fans. A tiny number of hardcore fans. Like Arcen they stick to their principles and barely scrape by year on year.

      • mouton says:

        Ah, internet. It always fascinates me how it generates every possible opinion ever, no matter how weird it might be to me.

        • Charles de Goal says:

          He’s not completely wrong. Defcon would have been massively better with a bit more love in the multiplayer department (such as public player rankings… waiting 5 minutes for a game to fill, only to realize 10 minutes after the game started that the teams are totally unbalanced, was a very common frustration).

          • Premium User Badge

            mineshaft says:

            – Billy Madison

            In the context of the movie it’s a ridiculously over the top putdown of an Adam Sandler speech played as climactic and inspirational.

            /meta

      • LionsPhil says:

        I dunno about “turgid slug”, but there’s not a single game of theirs so far with enough depth that I wasn’t bored of it before the demo ran out. Kind of makes me wonder how they’re doing with a management sim.

      • talon03 says:

        “Please feel free to tell me I’m wrong. I’m not.”

        Frightlever, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this comment thread is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

        • Prime says:

          Lovely to see that the standard of commentary around here is s high as when I took my leave. Can we try not to be so combative and more constructive in future, please? It’d be nice to have a place on the web where this kind of flaming ISN’T the norm, as RPS has always tried hard to be.

          • absolofdoom says:

            If you “took your leave” like some kinda veteran from the old RPS war days apparently, why the hell are you then rather conspicuously not gone?

    • Mctittles says:

      I’d like to restart this article and see what happens without the first comment guy. Will the front page fill up with talk of the price tag again, or will something different happen?

  2. Hikkikomori says:

    Like starting a Sunday morning with good news. :)

    It’s already much fun to play in the current sandbox mode and with bugs aplenty. Really looking forward to the campaign mode. I have already installed a mod too (!), some extra grants (missions for extra monies). I think we’re in for something special with Prison Architect.

    EDIT: read the Eurogamer article… tunnelling! riots with fog of war! possibly gang system too! exclamation marks!!!! :D

  3. Premium User Badge

    Javier says:

    Hope this ends proving to them that what their followers crave is new ideas, not senseless MP expandalones or console ports that no one has any interest in. Mark should just let Chris experiment. It’s a miniature version of the eternal conflict between publishers and developers. Anyway, tried Prison Architect and despite not finding anything unexpected I loved it. I was looking forward to playing Subversion, and after it got shelved the prospect of it being replaced by a prison management game disappointed me, but I found the gameplay to be very open and complex and the narrative of the introduction dark and compelling. It gets you to question some things. I’ll be most definately looking forward to this and their next games.

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    AmateurScience says:

    Glad this worked out for them, seems like a useful middle ground for relatively established indies to fund projects without kickstarter and amazon fees.

  5. SquareWheel says:

    I do hope this does well. And maybe someday we’ll see Subversion again.

    • Premium User Badge

      Javier says:

      Hear, hear. Subversion was looking incredible and today I still don’t see nothing wrong gameplay-wise that couldn’t be fixed with some work.

      • PUKED says:

        Based on what the developers have said about it, “some work” has to be the understatement of the year.

  6. smk123 says:

    Rightly so, I’ve been playing it all weekend and I love it! My fave management sim since Theme Hospital without a doubt

  7. Sc0r says:

    I could use this… to introduce my friends to dwarf fortress. :D the basics (except for digging) seem pretty similar.

    • RogB says:

      Try Gnomoria, its basically an ‘accessible’ DF clone. Im rather surprised RPS hasnt picked up on it yet tbh..

      • RegisteredUser says:

        Wasn’t there also that one orc camp offspring that had an actually useable interface and whatnot, unlike the fuck-you-if-you-want-to-play-me-you-suffer approach DF took? That was on RPS iirc, and supposedly a bit nicer.

        • RogB says:

          goblin camp is a slightly nicer DF-lite, still ascii but with a mouse menu. I think it hasnt been updated in a while so is probably on the way out

          Gnomoria is like playing DF with the isometric Stonesense mod, nice pixel art graphics, and doing absolutely everything with a mouse. (to the point its actually a bit more cumbersome to do repeat operations quickly).

          its so close that its unsettling, its hard to decide between affectionate homage or blantant ‘HOW DARE HE STEAL FOOD FROM TOADYS TABLE!? outrage.

          It’ll never have the many years of DF depth, but as a little settement sim which I can play quickly without having to scour tutorials and wikis to work out whats been changed since i last played it its rather enjoyable. I’ll be keeping an eye on its development, thats for sure.

          I’d probably rather be sending money to Toady but he seems to be so resolutely against doing a decent GUI thats its like hes avoiding it out of spite now, so its no surprise someone else has moved into providing what people have been asking for,

          • Prime says:

            Toady’s had his chance and failed to capitalise on it. Someone else is willing to do the work. C’est la vie.

    • DuddBudda says:

      I enjoy PA (I hope there’s not an NDA I missed) because it’s like DF with a humane UI

      unfortunately, PA doesn’t facilitate the same joie des systémes, and I doubt it ever can

      that said, PA is a good game, and I hope it gets richer once the bugs are ironed out

      [I know ‘Dwarf Fortress’ cannot be said to ‘facilitate’ anything, but you catch my drift]

    • iniudan says:

      What are you talking about, this is a prison, it will most likely also include digging. =p

  8. eks says:

    I loved Darwinia so very, very much and I’m soooooo tempted to buy this, but honestly, I’m super tired of playing unfinished games. The ratio of alpha/beta/still in development games I’ve played over the last few years is order of magnitudes higher then actual completed/released games.

    Sorry Introversion, I’m going to have to wait until release. I promise I’ll pay full retail price for it though and won’t buy it on sale.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I’m with you on this.

      I’m quite happy to buy games in beta if it helps the devs more, but the last unfinished game I played was minecraft, even though I must have purchased 10-15 betas since, including planetside 2, project zomboid, path of exile, that other grimdark ARPG by the makers of the ancient greece arpg, this game too and plenty more I have forgotten. I just won’t play them until they are ready!

  9. crinkles esq. says:

    I will only pick this up if someone mods it into Old Folks Home Architect.

  10. wodin says:

    Hope we get a Colditz mod…

    • vonkrieger says:

      Is it just me or is this an angle they missed? Running a POW camp in WW2 ala the great escape with a bit of Allo’ Allo’ thrown in.

      They’d distance them-selves from the frankly brutal modern prison systems and could camp it up so much that Theme Hospital would look like a gritty simulation in comparison. Interrogation rooms where G.I.s are inflicted with the comfy chair and bumbling guards who don’t know their Gewehr from their elbow.

      I’d play that, still unable to get by the theme they went with however.

    • wodin says:

      Well I imagine getting the different nationalites\factions with their own specific need sorted..aswell as dealing with escape committees and tunnels and disguises and passport forgeries, have the yanks doing there thing the Brits theirs etc aswell as having grudges and fights between them etc etc..

  11. Shadowcat says:

    I am so utterly uninterested in the theme of this game that I was curious to find out whether this would turn out to be a disaster for Introversion on that account, even if the game was good.

    I’m glad for their sake to see that the future looks promising. (Assuming the pre-sales don’t represent their entire audience, and that the game doesn’t suck :)

  12. Cryptoshrimp says:

    Lovely. Introversion deserves all the good things they can get.

  13. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    I’m not offended by, well anything, but the theme of this game stinks worse than granny shits.

    • MOKKA says:

      Grow up.

    • vonkrieger says:

      Seconded. (But I couldn’t watch Oz either, something about Prisons troubles me greatly.)

      • Mctittles says:

        I agree with some of what you say, however I wish everything didn’t have to become a “rich vs poor” argument. I get so tired of people complaining when others make more than them and looking down on those that make less. It’s all relevant to YOUR income!

        My brother and I live in America and split $1000 a month for rent and food (don’t own a car) and get by just fine. How much do you make in America you rich bastard (or uneducated poor bastard)? Since I guarentee whatever it is will be more or less than my income.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Just goes to prove that there is a difference between offence and distastefulness.

    • mwoody says:

      Then apparently you’re easily offended and just didn’t know it.

  14. The First Door says:

    Hurray, I’m glad to hear they are doing so well! I’m still debating which level to buy and when, but the videos of it which are starting to creep out are pushing me towards backing very soon.

  15. AlKaPwn says:

    Oh God, I’ve just realized that someone somewhere at some point in the future will try to make an Auswitch mod, this is a thing that needs to be preemptively stopped.

    • wodin says:

      sorry disagree…sounds harsh i know and I’m sure I will be trolled to death as being a Nazi..but hey I watched Shindlers List and lots of other camp films which at the end of the day where entertainment.

      Personally I don’t have a problem and would even try it out..you know why? because nothing before or since the event would hit home so hard what actually happened and the whole horror of it.

      I’d like to see how far I could go before I felt sick and to uncomfortable to go on. Then we get to understand the shear power of Ideology and brainwashing from birth.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Wot F3ck said, and also we’ve had that beautiful escape torture maze game or what it was here on RPS before.
      I don’t really see how delving into that, or wanking off about how awesome the “white phosphour” and “descent into madness” BS in Spec Ops is is any much better than running an internment, POW or otherwise mutated concentration camp.

      To be perfectly honest, a more nutty-but-misanthropic, somehow kind of perverse, but not so far gone as to be completely ugly mutilation of the concept might just be more interesting than “make the numbers work while expanding” tycoon boredom.
      Because: Of that kind of game and sim? There have already been 4 games made so far, and this would just be yet another copycat tycoon clone with 2D graphics.

      I’m still waiting to see what the unique angle here is going to be.

  16. Fincher says:

    THIS IS AN ARCHITECT…

    THIS IS AN ARCHITECT…

    THIS IS… PRISON ARCHITECT!

  17. malkav11 says:

    Surprises me. I mean, Introversion have made some great games and I salute them for that, but one thing they’ve always been before is compellingly original. There are four shovelware Prison Tycoon games out there, maybe more. I can only assume Introversion will do the prison management sim better because they’re more talented and actually care, but I have yet to see any information on what makes Prison Architect stand out from those shovelware competitors, or indeed the handful of management sims in the past that have actually been any good. I’m just not seeing the hook. I mean, I don’t like DEFCON – the low number of units and skirmish/multiplayer only designs make it just about as unappealing to me as an RTS can possibly get – but I can see the hook there. It’s just not for me. This one, I dunno.

    • wodin says:

      Not sure but it felt like they never knew about the other games..it seemed like he thought he was onto a new novel idea..

  18. horsemedic says:

    Does anyone independently verify game sales figures?

  19. MythArcana says:

    After playing this one for about 3 minutes, does anyone else wish Subversion was still in development?

    • Captain Joyless says:

      No, I don’t.

      If you read some of the interview with them, they did a really good job of explaining that they had accidentally made a game about locking things up. The breaking-in part was actually pretty boring and trivial. So why not keep making a game about keeping things locked up?

    • Unaco says:

      Your problem may be that you’ve only played the game for 3 minutes. I’m assuming (haven’t played yet myself) that the entire game, let alone the majority or the focus of the game, is not presented in a mere 3 minutes. I’m going to guess that you’ve barely seen anything of the game in that 3 minutes.

      This isn’t one of those shallow, ‘mainstream’ games… there’s a lot of depth to it. If you aren’t willing to invest the time in it, you should maybe look at something else, that perhaps isn’t as engaging and involving as Prison Architect.

  20. Captain Joyless says:

    I (and apparently a few other people) need a way to buy that isn’t Paypal. For some absurd unknown reason paypal doesn’t like my card, so I’m completely locked out of buying.

  21. Nalum says:

    I’d buy it but I can’t use paypal.

  22. Nethlem says:

    It’s kinda funny how trends are changing in terms of pricing.
    It used to be that “pre-ordering” early would mean you save some money, at least compared to buying the game at release. The logic behind it being that spending money that early during development would help getting the game actually done and as such the lower price had been warranted to ensure any future sales at all.

    But now it’s getting more and more common to sell “early access” at an higher fee compared to the final price. Planetside 2’s “Alpha program” comes to mind and maybe even this game with it’s high price for alpha access. This way you also have the option to go down with the price over time without early buyers feeling ripped off that badly.