Not bad going for a game that that’s so very difficult to describe, eh? Galactic Cafe – aka Davey Wreden – have managed to flog over 100,000 copies of affectionate choice’n’consequence skit The Stanley Parable to date. Did he achieve this by following the rules and doing everything he was expected to, or did he choose another path, going his own way despite the nurturing wisdom of onlookers. I reckon the latter, given he put out a demo, which lots of money-hungry men in suits claim is commercial suicide despite repeated evidence to the contrary.
The demo, itself a satire and discussion of demos, helped the game both generate anticipation and extra press, he reckons. “We spent two years making The Stanley Parable. For an extra two months work, we get an entire second game’s worth of press. That seems like too good a deal to risk going without.”
But on top of that, the game’s ridden on a wave of mystery and cheer rather than grand promises. Indeed, he essentially avoided explaining what the game was in its marketing. “We released five trailers over the course of the game’s development, and not one of them contains any substantial actual footage of the game,” he explains in a post-mortem post which you should read in full. “If you make the marketing material interesting on its own, it’s irrelevant whether it ‘sells’ your game.”
Speaking of selling, that was never the priority. “Our focus was always on creating content that was on its own fun for people to experience and to be a part of, with essentially zero per cent of the design aimed at trying to get the game to sell.”
Well done Mr Wreden, anyway. Much-deserved, and I suspect we’ll be covering Stanley a whole lot more here soon – a Verdict looms, hopefully. Be sure to read Nathan’s mega-meta-Wot I Think too. I played it at the weekend, then played it again and again and again and I’m quite sure I haven’t seen all its permutations yet, so doubtless I’ll play it again and again and again still.