Gunpoint’s Creator Is Now Fabulously Wealthy, Still Nice

By Alec Meer on June 19th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

Go up, to the New York penthouse, or wherever it is Tom lives now

I should be very pleased for now ex-PC Gamer writer and fine fellow Tom Francis, whose lovely debut Gunpoint, made in his spare time over the last three years, has proven wildly successful enough for him to “quit jobs, as a concept” and grant him total creative freedom for whatever he wants to do next and for the foreseeable future. Instead, I feel physically ill with envy and crippled by self-loathing at my own failure to work on a game as yet, all compounded by worry that feeling that way is a sign that I am a bad person. I am attempting to purge all these unpleasant emotions by posting about Tom’s amazing news.

He’s fairly open (and witty) about what happened in a long post-release write-up here. “There’s really no pressure for my next thing to make a particular amount of money, so I can do whatever I think will be most exciting,” he claims, and the good news for all of us is that he’s now even more determined to keep on treating his players/customers right.

For instance, despite encountering of a lot of industry ‘wisdom’ which claimed putting out a demo before the full game was available means lost sales, from his point of view it meant people could check the game worked on their PC before committing and he didn’t depend on making eager fans pay blindly. Other nice things he’s done include happily providing refunds to anyone who’s had problems running the game.

In other words: despise and envy Tom Francis for his vast riches and total freedom from the system, but love him for being the sort of game developer we wish all game developers could be. Congratulations, sir.

Meantime, Gupoint is now up to its third patch, there’s plans for more updates later, and Tom’s looking for a spot of dev help to iron out the last few issues and come up with Mac and Linux versions.

Right, do I feel any better for writing this? Um. I’m going to go and see if there’s anything I want in the discounted damaged goods in Tesco, put it that way.

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67 Comments »

  1. Gap Gen says:

    The “here” link is all brokened. :(

  2. almostDead says:

    I am a bad person too.

    I hope he has the altruism to revive the sp STALKER license with his freedom from the man.

    That or go bother Games Workshop for something turn based.

    No doubt he’ll have his own creative visions instead. After the gap year travelling the world.

    Wow, I bet he can’t wait to get out of bed each morning.

  3. Scatterbrainpaul says:

    I actually want him to brag. I’d like to know exactly how many copies he sold and how much money he made

    Well done to him as well. I always enjoyed reading his stuff in PC Gamer, when people actually bought PC Gamer

    • briangw says:

      What do you mean when people still bought PC Gamer? I still do!

      • jrodman says:

        Oh dear, you have now outed yourself as a robot. Or a vampire, Or perhaps some combination of the two.

        I for one, want you to know that I support you for who you are. I hvae not in any way contacted my local superhero hotline to deal with a public menace. That would be unkind.

    • phuzz says:

      I’ve got a feeling Valve don’t let people discuss how much they’ve made through Steam in detail. Note the way his charts don’t actually label the y (money/sales) axis.

  4. Bodge says:

    Well it is nice when good things happen to good people. Thanks for the PCG years.

  5. DrScuttles says:

    There was a discounted pizza in Tesco earlier. Ham and pineapple.

  6. greenbananas says:

    Oh, the “industry wisdom”. Some people really can’t tell video games from a clown with a sausage.

  7. Scythe says:

    As nice as it would be to be able hate Tom, my impression of him is a beaut bloke. You can thank the PC Gamer UK podcast for that impression. Bastard.

  8. ukpanik says:

    “industry ‘wisdom’ which claimed putting out a demo before the full game was available means lost sales”

    They have faith in their great game. W@ankers.
    What about the lost sales from those that refuse to buy without trying or those that turn to the pirate copy due to lack of demo.

    • Correa says:

      Because they know better!

      Or in there own little reality bubble that seems to have floated past anyone in the real world.

      But well done on the game Tom, as it’s fun to play.

    • Tacroy says:

      It’s because for a modern AAA game, a demo can only lose you sales. After all, everyone knows how an FPS works, or a cover-based third person shooter, or a racing game or sports game. There’s no point in trying it out, you know almost exactly what you’re going to get; and if it turns out that the gameplay is a bit wonky, well, then you might not buy it.

      For something like Gunpoint though, a demo will increase sales – comparatively few people have it on their “buy this regardless” list, so if they play the demo and like it they’re a lot more likely to buy.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        I was already fairly sure I wanted it but wasn’t sure which tier, but the demo convinced me to get the higher one because A) it’s fun and B) the dialogue is really well written and genuinely funny, especially the unique bit that concludes the demo.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Yes, the demo basically upsold me to the mildly special edition, even though the game is tiny.

          Also technically to pre-ordering, for some value of pre- where I get to play a representative portion of it before deciding to part with any money.

    • Anthile says:

      Plenty of AAA titles get to their high sales numbers through hype. That doesn’t mean that those titles are bad but no game can ever live up to its hype because in the end, promises are always cheaper than game development hours.

  9. LennyLeonardo says:

    Dear Alec: Why not ask Tom if you can work on his next game? Because you know it’s gonna be great.

    Dear Tom: Thank you for making Gunpoint. It was great, and it reminded me that I wanted to write a comedy noir novel, which I plan to start as soon as I’ve finished this commmmmmmmmmmm…ennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn…ttt……that I am….. typing…..now….

    Sigh.

  10. Chris D says:

    I can’t be the only one to have bought Gunpoint solely on the basis of Tom’s contribution to the Neptune’s Pride diaries, surely?

    Anyway, no pressure, Jim. It’s not like we’re all living vicariously through you, waiting to see RPS beat PC gamer for the “Best game made by a journalist” Bafta. Probably not all of us, anyway.

  11. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    I would love an expansion for Gunpoint. It is awesome but well short.

  12. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Oh, right, Gunpoint. I knew I was supposed to purchase a copy.

  13. BobbleHat says:

    Genuinely pleased that it’s become a success. Regarding his point about demos or lack of them, this game was something I was quite looking forward to, but playing the demo immediately made me pre-order it. I’ve no doubt that if there hadn’t been a demo, I’d have waited until a half-price sale before buying.

  14. aguamoose says:

    Yep, the one thing worse than failing is watching another suceed.

  15. almostDead says:

    I wonder how Alec will feel when it happens to his mate Jim as well.

    It’ll be, like, who hasn’t made a million selling indie game and shown the industry what for.

  16. jimbobjunior says:

    Remember when Tom wasn’t sure he was going to charge for the game?

    • wodin says:

      yeah…bet his bank manager is glad he decided not to do it for free..imagine..that would be like tossing your winning lottery ticket (well maybe not top prize but a bloody good one) down the drain..

  17. wodin says:

    Fairplay to him…love it when decent lads get rewarded and are successful..

  18. povu says:

    I remember when he was still considering whether to sell it at all or release it as a free thing. Looks like he made the right choice! :)

  19. AlwaysRight says:

    Whoa,Whoa, Whoa!
    What if Sir, You are being hunted is similarly successful? Will we lose Jim?

    everybody who loves RPS should pirate ‘Sir’ to make sure this doesn’t happen.

    Of course I’m joking, piracy never solves anything… unless you’re a marooned English/Dutch/French sailor in the 16th Century Caribbean.

  20. Zarf says:

    Releasing demos might hurt sales an appreciable amount for AAA studios that are backed by investors. This guy, who had no investors but himself, released a very nice demo, through which I bought the final product. He didn’t lose my sale. In fact, if he hadn’t made a demo, I’d have never bought the game, despite my friends all telling me that the game was excellent. I’m glad I bought the game, and I’m glad he has a ton of money now. I hope he goes off and does something equally as fun and inventive as Gunpoint, if not better.

    I’m proud to have supported Mr. Francis. He seems like a pretty cool dude.

  21. Saldek says:

    Fantastic news :) Gunpoint was a blast and Tom seems to be a great guy. Nice to see something go so well.

  22. Flappybat says:

    Have you considered some kind of drink straw based device to drain his game making powers?

    Just putting it out there.

  23. Muzman says:

    It’s gauche in our world to talk numbers, because, you know, numbers tend to undermine impressions of success people like to put out and numbers relating to money put out in public make it much harder to cheat on your taxes etc.

    But I’m sure none of the above applies to the good sir. Is there any indication how many copies sold it takes to hit that retirement threshold in this case?

  24. Leb says:

    Good for him! I played in a closed beta test and beat the entire game, a little “meh” feeling to see that the release game didn’t add any more content from the client I tested, but still glad to give him my moneys for the good work.

    Hope to see more levels… I understand the replayability aspects of trying to do levels differently but that doesn’t appeal to me as much as new levels would.

    Better map editor with steam workshop support is in order.

  25. Archangel says:

    Interesting points about demos. Puppygames recently and quite publicly decided against releasing demos for sales reasons, going so far as to retroactively disable their old demos. They have long struggled with profitability and deduced that in their case, it was the best thing to do. Letting someone try your product for free can go both ways, depending on the demo and the nature of the game. UT3 never recovered from its awful demo, for example, but Doom benefited mightily from its “shareware” release.

    • jrodman says:

      Interesting. Puppygames demos have reliably convinced me that I don’t want to buy the game.
      I don’t think the problem is the demo.

      All this means is that I won’t even try their games in the future.

      • drewski says:

        From their blog:

        “You have to actually pay to form an opinion on how it plays.”

        Seems fair. We take your money, then you get to find out you don’t like it!

  26. Bugste81 says:

    We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful and if they’re northern, that makes it even worse.
    Least its not all bad.

  27. Lemming says:

    Tom’s success has inspired me to get my procrastinating arse in gear. Well done, Tom!

  28. Frank says:

    Releasing those multiple versions was a good idea. For me, I might have waited for a sale if I didn’t feel guilty for having played the entire game during beta. I upgraded to the commentary version just so I could feel like I was getting something out of it. Anyway, great game all the same!

  29. drewski says:

    This is terrible news for the PC Gamer UK podcast.

  30. jrodman says:

    To be fair, what they’re saying is basically:

    * Game buying patterns have changed
    * Games are so cheap now that buying without trying is common
    * People who play the demo just talk themselves out of buying it somehow

    My self-centered view is.

    * I typically refuse to buy games at the 1 dollar pricepoint. Often I buy indie games multiple times to raise the price to what I think is reasonble
    * I am very picky about my game design. If i think the game is player hostile (for example puppy games has controversial difficulty auto-adjusting) for some reason, I want to send a no-sale message to the maker, not a sale message.
    * The decision to not make a sale further adjusts the relationship from seller / customer towards producer / consumer. This mirrors many other shifts in the world that I don’t appreciate.

  31. Brocktoon says:

    When Penny Arcade says your game “is just… it’s very, very well made”, I think you can expect to sell a few copies.

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