The Big Gamble: Gun Monkeys Distributes Keys

What a strange time for game selling we live in. Not ten years ago the idea of doing basically anything other than heading down to your local Woolworths and picking up an honest-to-goodness box was madness. Now, not only would there have to be a special case for a game to come in any sort of packaging but you can do anything from pay for a game before it’s made to never pay for it at all. And here’s yet another method: distributing copies of multiplayer indie platformer blast-em-up Gun Monkeys to those who spend a long time waiting to find a game. In a blog post yesterday, Size Five Games man Dan Marshall outlined the plan as a way to drum up interest in the game and ensure current players get the experience they paid for. Full statement below.

It’s a unique solution to a frustrating situation. Despite universally positive reviews, Gun Monkeys just hasn’t sold enough to keep servers perpetually-buzzing with players. It’s infuriating, but the important thing to do now is to make sure the people who have bought the game can enjoy it as intended.

The most frequent comment in my inbox at the moment is ‘this game is amazing, why aren’t more people playing it?’ Well, hopefully this move will bring in new interested players too, since they’ll always be able to play friends when servers are quiet.

Free keys are limited per player, and it won’t generate free copies for ever, but for now it’s a fun and unusual way to combat the Curse of the Indie Multiplayer Game. Let’s see how it goes.

It’s an odd plan and quite a risk after having already dropped the price of the game in recent months. Still, as mentioned in that link, development costs have already been recouped so the main aim seems to be keeping players happy. If this doesn’t work, I really can’t think of anything that would. Any of you lot out there playing?


  1. Tohonas says:

    I bought it when they gave away the free copy and I gave one to my friend, who has never played it. My general experience was to wait in the server for ten minutes, and then either go play something else, or find a match with someone who would whoop my ass in 30 seconds, and then repeat the cycle.

    It is good fun, but much like Showdown Effect, I don’t know if there’s enough there to hold people’s attention…

  2. frightlever says:

    It’s not that odd a plan provided he isn’t running the servers to host the games (I’ve no idea how the multiplayer is set-up). The game isn’t delivering the experience for existing players and this will alleviate the problem. He’s made the most of the money he’s going to for the original game so it’s not like he’s losing significant sales.

  3. Agnosticus says:

    I’d recommend the game to everyone (especially if free). It’s simple to learn, but quite hard to master and tons of fun.

    Finders keepers, GNHPN-D4CXZ-OCDKK

    (If it’s not working try to replace the O with 0)

    • 4026 says:

      Yeah, okay, I’ve ninja’d that. Thank you for your kindness, Agnosticus. And also Dan Marshall!

      Also, I now feel a bit guilty. Time to go buy another copy of Time, Gentlemen, Please to assuage my conscience.

      • Agnosticus says:

        If you get on a server and there is no one to play with for about 10 mins you’ll get a free key (up to 3, get pencil ready ;) ) Spread the word, so the servers get flooded and the free keys stop flowing and Dan is making some money again for this great game :D

      • fco says:

        Speaking of Time Gentlemen and codes, I’ve got a spare copy on Steam if someone wants it..

  4. 4026 says:

    “The Curse of the Indie Multiplayer Game” is a genuinely troubling phenomenon, rendering too many great games stunted and unplayable before their time (Plain Sight, anyone?). But crikey, this is a brutal/desperate/ambitious solution. It’s essentially taking the Frozen Synapse strategy (sell the game only in two-packs) to extremes. I hope Dan can still make some money out of this.

    …Although, that said, if anyone has a free Steam key for the game that’s just dropped for them and no-one to give it to…

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yes, I’d be a little cautious about launching a multiplayer-only game if it’s going to be hard to build a persistent clientbase to play it. Something like Neptune’s Pride can be played over a long period of time with people you know, but a small arena game that won’t necessarily garner Call of Duty levels of devotion from its userbase might be difficult to sell. Then again, maybe these just aren’t for me; I played a bit of Plain Sight and it was a fun game but I wasn’t hooked.

      • amanitazest says:

        Neptune’s Pride also has an advantage, in that only the host needs to own a copy of the game. Anyone can join a game for free. It was still pretty hard getting my friends to play, even for free… still, for 12 bucks I got an amazing five-week campaign where I backstabbed a couple of my best friends for money and power. I’d say it was totally worth it.

      • Baines says:

        I liked the idea of Plain Sight, and really wanted to play it, but being multiplayer only meant that there was no reason at all to buy it. Bigger and more popular games can’t keep their multiplayer alive, nor can cheaper and smaller ones.

        It’s actually why it bugs me that so much focus is put on online multiplayer these days rather than local, particularly for console games. (Or possibly versus LAN for PC.) Many of those games are going to be all but dead online within a few months, if they ever managed to get a decent online playerbase at all.

  5. lowprices says:

    I bought it after the price drop. It’s shame that the game hasn’t caught on, because it’s great fun, but it’s not altogether surprising. The initial price probably put a lot of people off, and ultimately there isn’t that much game there.

  6. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    Maybe he should add a single-player mode.

    Though that would be kind of ironic, wouldn’t it? After all the fuss publishers make in crowbarring in multiplayer modes to supposedly drive revenue.

    • Agnosticus says:

      single-player mode is definitely the wrong way to go for this game, play it and you’ll understand.

      The right course of action now is to expand the mulitplayer, so people come back playing the game and recommend it to friends, in forums, etc.

      • Rivalus says:

        IS there an AI opponent in the game? If it has, we can probably still have fun like Awesomenauts. Multiplayer only without bot is very hard without a large userbase.

  7. Aaax says:

    I bought the game for 5E and even if the servers were full, I think the fair price for the game would be 2E. It feels like f2p action flash game for bored early teen demographic. Gameplay is far from smooth and important GUI elements are missing.

    Compare this to Awesomenauts, another indie multiplayer game that was released for the same price, and I think 2E price would be just about right.

  8. Tei says:

    Of course.
    Making a popular multiplayer game is hard. Even a AAA game have a hard time doing that.

  9. Baines says:

    People aren’t playing it because people aren’t buying it. People aren’t buying it because it is multiplayer only.

    If they want more people playing the game, then they either add a single player mode or they go free-to-play. Neither will really give them the result that they wanted, but the game was already pretty much destined to die the moment it was conceived as a for-sale small multiplayer only game.