Last week, Garry Newman tweeted a sales chart that backed up what we already knew: that his game Garry's Mod is extremely successful and that its sales have not slowed down since its release back in 2006. The extra detail was a little surprising though. July 2013 was the game's best month ever in terms of copies sold, the number of copies sold doubles each year, and it has sold 3.5 million in total since launch.
Even accounting for Steam sales, those are remarkable numbers. I emailed Garry to ask him how this has happened, and also why, and also how, and what? Fwuh?
RPS: How? Why? How? What? Fwuh?
I think there's been a few things over the years. I'm guessing here - I obviously don't know for sure.
- Steam's ever increasing popularity.
- User generated content plays a massive role. Some of the gamemodes in GMod are like games of their own - so when a new gamemode gets released more people buy.
- Team Fortress 2, Portal content. People play the games and want to play with their contents... we made sure to allow that stuff as much as we could.
- Team Fortress 2 going free to play must have attracted a lot of people to the universe.
- When Source Filmmaker was released a lot of people said things like "Valve just KILLED GMod". But I'm guessing a lot of people unaware of GMod played with SFM, made a movie - and wanted a stupid effect that they'd seen in another movie... which was made in GMod. So they got it.
- YouTube and Twitch in recent years have had a massive effect. If 15 million people see someone having fun in your game it's going to make them want to play.
- Minecraft. You'd think Minecraft would kill GMod's popularity... but it's kind of the opposite. People play Minecraft to death - they love it.. so they go out looking for other games that are a bit like it. Minecraft has attracted a lot of people that aren't really PC gamers too. They play the game on the 360 or the iPad and everyone tells them that the PC version is better.
- And of course Steam Sales.
RPS: Does this put a different kind of pressure on Rust, your next game?
We decided a long time about to not give that much of a fuck about sales. We're never going to recreate GMod's popularity - it would be stupid to try. If we can make a game we're proud of, it pays for itself and allows us to make another game - we're very happy.
If you're wondering how much money all those sales add up to, the figure was around $22 million back in March of this year. Not all of that money goes into Garry's pockets, but I asked when he expected to possess all the world's wealth, and he said that they "have it penned in for 2019, but that date might slip up to 6 months."
I'm glad that all this success has befallen a game which is about creativity in all its forms, from ambitious new game modes to the childish joy of taping a ragdoll to a rocket-propelled minecart.