First thing's first. If you haven't yet checked out Stealth Bastard: Tactical Espionage Arsehole by indie developer Curve Studios (Explodemon), please do. It's a free action-platformer for PC that's described as "Metal Gear Solid meets Super Meat Boy," and playing it will help you understand why the game has managed to garner more than 15,000 downloads since its release last Friday, as it snuck into the limelight from relative obscurity.
Producer Ed Fear, who calls Stealth Bastard "an out–of-hours pet project," recently divulged Curve's reasoning behind launching the title for free, instead of charging for it.
"We just wanted to get it out there," Fear explained to Develop in a recent interview. "The biggest barrier to anybody experiencing anything is they have to pay for it." He also noted the advert for Curve's other game, Explodemon, which is displayed when exiting Stealth Bastard is helpful for raising awareness.
Fear also noted that the team decided that "building a community and engaging people" was much more critical than selling the title for a relatively "small amount of money."
"We've had a lot of people commenting on Twitter of people saying 'I would have paid $5-10 for this,' and saying, 'Please can I donate some money to you guys,'" Fear added, "which is really nice and is an indication of how good the PC indie community is."
If Stealth Bastard continues to perform and grow Curve Studio's fan-base, Fear says that developing it into a "full game" and monetizing it is well within the realm of possibility. It's a release model that might even extend to future Curve titles. "It's hard to say now, but if the game is successful it's something we could do again," Fear confirmed.
He also alluded to the growing willingness of others in the industry to release a game for free, and then monetize it later. "Yes, it's an experiment, that's exactly what it is," said Fear. "But it's a thing that people are going to be experimenting with more and more and I'm just really glad we're doing that."
Stealth Bastard can be downloaded for free from the game's official website.
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