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Frictional Games Examines Amnesia: The Dark Descent's Awesome Reception and Decent Sales

by Jeff Mattas, Sep 17, 2010 4:45pm PDT

Frictional Games' first-person survival horror adventure about piecing together forgotten memories while trying to avoid going crazy or being brutally killed by monsters has only been out available for about a week. However, the developer of Amnesia: The Dark Descent has already decided to post some thoughts about how the game has fared in its first seven days in the wild.

The post-release analysis touches on several different topics, ranging from how Frictional distributed the game, to a quick analysis of the first week's sales data and largely glowing critical reception. On launch day, Amnesia: The Dark Descent simultaneously hit six digital distribution outlets (including Steam). Despite feeling that they'd made a solid product, the team was still pleasantly surprised at just how warm of a reception the game received from both players and critics alike.

"From all the graded reviews so far, all but three have been 80+ (about half of these 90+) and interestingly two of the less positive ones had has a major complaint that there was too much horror in the game. Which in a way makes us happy as well," states Frictional Games. Unfortunately, the team also notes that several review outlets that covered their previous series, Penumbra, haven't mentioned Amnesia yet. That said, the team recognizes that this may have to do with the difficulties of self-marketing the game instead of using a second-party publisher this time around.

Frictional Games also notes that players who do get their hands on Amnesia are quite enthusiastic and vocal on the whole, many of them providing rabid recommendations through word-of-mouth. That said, the game's sales, while strong enough to ensure the survival of the studio, aren't as high as expected, given the glowing reviews. Though they haven't released specific sales figures, Frictional states that roughly half the game's earnings were made in "less than a week and on pre-orders from before release," peaking during the last hour of Steam 20% discount sale. Since then, sales have dropped drastically, "being pretty much halved each day." Ninety percent of the current install base are Windows users, with the additional ten percent split evenly between Linux and Mac users.

If this is our time in the spotlight, then a lot less noticed game would probably put us out of business. As it looks now, we still have to be quite careful in budgeting our next game (although much less careful than what we had to be with Amnesia). We were hoping a really successful release would makes 100% unworried about finances, but that is not what has happened.

The team also mentioned concerns about piracy, noting the extremely discouraging instance of a pirated copy of Amnesia: The Dark Descent becoming available a day before release. Even more troubling was the fact the "source of the illegal copy was one of our review copies (with tracking info hacked away)." Though it's unfortunately true that no game is ever entirely safe from software criminals, it's especially reprehensible when such piracy is waged upon a small company like Frictional Games, whose financial future is hanging in the balance.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is available for both PC and Mac, ranging from $19.95 to $20.00, depending on what digital distribution outlet you choose.





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