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Gone Home dev on the impact of Steam Sales

by William Schwartz

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Gone Home has been a huge success story for Fullbright Company, earning the Game of the Year Award from Polygon and Kilscreen and selling north of 250,000 copies. However, there have been some criticisms towards Gone Home, as Fullbright co-founder Steve Gaynor told GamesIndustry InternationalSome of them are expected, with Gone Home being labeled as “not a game”, “a walking simulator”. However, as Gayner also noted, the biggest criticism wasn’t towards Gone Home’s positive portrayal of gays, the relative lack of violence or even the prominence of woman. Rather, it was due to the length of the game.

’75 percent of sales come from Steam, and especially the sales’

Gayner confessed, “It’s short.It’s like two or three hours depending on how much you explore it, and $20. And some people were like, that’s not worth the money. And by all means, right? We priced the game planning for Steam sales. We have a price that we think objectively is a fair price point if it’s an experience you find valuable. But for people who are on the fence, a couple months after release it was $10. And in the holiday sale for a while, it was like $5. That’s a reality in the online download market now. Not that many people, relatively speaking, are going to pay full price.”

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 ‘Steam is probably the most important thing that’s happened to indie games in the last 10 years.’

While this may sound odd, planning a game’s price around a a distribution channel’s sales, Gaynor claims that it applies to all indie developers now. “It’s a chicken-and-egg thing where the reason you have to be thinking about Steam sales before you set your price because if you get on Steam and you do start selling the game, it’s just a known issue that like 75 percent of your sales or more is going to come from Steam, and especially the Steam sale stuff… In 10 years, maybe Steam sales won’t be the thing you have to be thinking about. Five, six, seven years ago, apps weren’t a thing. Now if you’re going to be making something for mobile, you have to go, how will this be sold on iTunes? How do we promote and price it for that? I think Steam is an incredibly positive thing, probably the most important thing that’s happened to indie games in the last 10 years. And the tradeoff of having access to that audience is you have to think about how to interact with a sales platform.”

Finally, Gaynor talked about the future of Fullbright and what their next project might be like. “We’re going to continue exploring from Gone Home as a foundation and see how the next game can be not just more Gone Home in a different building or whatever, but to take that as a starting point and ask what’s the big interesting thing we can add or change to make the next game its own unique experience that also builds on what we’ve already made.”

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