I’ve recently covered adventure games and how they fare on Kickstarter, but what about those that finally get released? I want to take a look at these projects and how they have done since release. There have been a number of crowdfunded games that have gone live, but not all of them do well. I’ll be discussing both the successes, as well as the failures, in this genre.
It’s important to note that adventure games are a niche genre. Not everybody enjoys story and logic puzzles as much as others. The unfortunate truth is that adventures have dwindled in popularity over the last couple decades. Kickstarter might have given them a second chance at stardom, but they don’t reach as large of an audience as they used to. Even the projects with well-known names attached to them have done poorly.
I’ve noticed that adventure games inspired by LucasArts titles have fared much better than those following a more Sierra On-Line approach. Broken Age hasn’t been a smash hit, but it still hasn’t forced Double Fine to shut its doors. Likewise, games with “higher resolution” graphics, such as Dreamfall Chapters, have done pretty well for themselves. On the flip side, pixel games and Sierra-inspired titles have gotten relatively poor reviews.
Even having a well-known name like Al Lowe or Jane Jensen doesn’t mean that the game will sell well. Both Replay Games and Pinkerton Road had to shut their doors due to their respective games not making money. The same goes for indie developers like Infamous Quests, with the recent decision to stop making games for the foreseeable future. All of these examples have one major thing in common: all have used the Sierra template in their titles.
I’ve also noticed most adventure games are funded primarily through nostalgia. With the rare exception, most cite games like Monkey Island or Space Quest as their main inspiration. Nostalgia is all well and good, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that a game will sell well. In a genre that already has a small audience, something like pixel art could make it even smaller.
And that brings me to my next point. As with pretty much any crowdfunded game, adventures tend to already “pre-sell” most of their copies during the campaign. The die-hard “superfans” would already be on board before the game even ships, and that means less sales on launch. Basically, one side effect of crowdfunding is that most copies pay for the development cost.
Out of all the adventure games that have been funded, only a handful have been released. Several are being developed right now, so the future of the genre is still pretty much up in the air. Thimbleweed Park and Obduction are highly anticipated titles, but the future for SpaceVenture and Hero-U look bleak.
I’d love to see all adventure games do well, but their track record so far has been less than stellar. It’s possible that more development houses might end up shutting down if they don’t do well after release. A few have just recently released, and several are slated for later this year, so only time will tell how the genre fares down the line.