A Look at TAW’s Launch and Future

Uncategorized 19 19 Comments

I want the takeaway of this post to be about the future of Treasure Adventure World, and what fans of the game can look forward to in the future. However, before I get to that I need to talk about our launch, the reception, and sales.

taw_tag_screenshot_2

 

Critical Response

First off, the critical reception from both fans and the press exceeded my expectations. TAW currently has a 93% positive rating on Steam and a 4 ½ star rating on GOG. The goal of TAW was to recreate what people loved about TAG, fix its flaws, add some new content, and give it a pretty HD makeover. Reading the glowing user reviews from both stores tells me that the game has lived up to the expectations of the fans. Getting to interact with the fans and beta-testers through our Discord channel has also been a highlight of developing TAW.

 

Sales

Now let’s look at the sales numbers. Unfortunately, this is where the bad news comes in. No matter how I look at it, financially the game is a failure. Even my most conservative estimates were laughable. For the sake of transparency here are the numbers:

Units sold (as of 4/21/18 – rounded slightly):

  • Pre-Orders (through Humble Bundle) – 1000 (this money was used on development)
  • Steam – 1300
  • GOG – 725
  • Humble Store – 75

That brings the total number of sales in our first two months to just over 2000. Even though I accrued no debt making TAW, it likely will not make a profit. I’m still not sure why our sales are so low. We had a lot going for us: a game that we knew people loved, a built-in fan base, a publisher with a good track record and low development cost. Visibility was definitely a factor – we didn’t get attention from any major press or influencers. It’s easy to blame the saturated PC market (even more saturated by platformers), but there must be more to it than that, as many quality platformers still break through.

 

My Response

To say this was a disappointment is an understatement. Shortly after launch, when it was apparent that our sales were going to be poor, I became anxious and depressed beyond anything I’ve experienced in a while. While the fans were getting to play and enjoy the game, I was having a hard time waking up every morning to continue fixing bugs and putting out patches. This anxiety is also why I’ve been pretty quiet on social media, and Discord lately.

A number of folks were working on TAW for a profit share. They worked hard to make TAW great and had a true passion for this project – giving them the bad news was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

I decided my only option was to look for work, so I dusted off my resume and spent some time doing just that. I’m happy to report that I found a fantastic job (though one I never would have imagined doing) in the games industry. Being financially stable has greatly improved my mental health and I’ve finally gained the courage to write this blog post. However, having a 9-5 again has severely limited the amount of time I have to continue working on the game.

 

The Future

That said, we do still have plans for the future of TAW so let’s get to the stuff you came here for. Since I’ll have a lot less time to focus on development, I’m going to be doing less, but more significant updates from now on. The next update will include some (or all) of the following:

  • Bug fixes – There are not many in-game bugs that need fixing, but there are some who are reporting performance issues, crashes and memory leaks. Though somewhat hampered by our engine, I’m attempting to work out the memory leak first in hopes it’ll mitigate the other issues as well.
  • Localized editions – The first officially translated languages will be German and Russian. We will continue to release localized editions as we can budget them.
  • Mods & Steam Workshop – There are a number of elements in the game that can already be modded but I will continue to expand and improve these features. I plan on releasing an animation editor for Peep, that, combined with texture modding, will give modders a lot of tools to create their own protagonists. I experimented with putting Finn from Adventure Time in the game and it worked surprisingly well (and no I will not be releasing this skin, it was for test purposes only). Longer term I also have plans on releasing a level editor – but I’ll save that for another time. I’m also developing a plugin that will allow TAW to interact directly with Steam Workshop for easy mod sharing! (PS check out our modding guide)
  • New Content – Most exciting of all, I have plans on adding entirely new content to the game. I’m looking forward to busting out my notebook to sketch some brand new level ideas and utilizing some that didn’t quite make it into TAW’s vanila release. The screenshot above is a little peak at what you can expect.

I still don’t think I’ve completely processed these last few months. After working on something for so long (nearly 6 years) only to have it abruptly end in a fizzle is surprisingly hard to deal with. It oddly feels like a year has passed in only two months. I’m beginning to feel more stable again and, with that, a desire to make TAW as great as I possibly can before moving onto my next game!

 

 


  1. SirPrimalform - April 21, 2018

    I’m so sorry to hear about the disappointing sales figures, but glad to hear you’ve found an awesome job.

    I’m not sure Steam Workshop support is a good idea. It generally has the effect of excluding users of other stores. There are tons of games out there where the modders only bother to upload to Steam Workshop and the result is that lots of people are locked out from using them.
    Given that your GOG customers are just over a half of your Steam customers, that’s a large proportion of customers to be locking out.

    • SirPrimalform - April 21, 2018

      Oh, but new content sounds cool. Does the above screenshot mean there’ll be a “classic” skin for the whole game? I loved the original art style.

    • Stephen Orlando - April 21, 2018

      Does GOG have a system for sharing mods? I can guarantee that Steam won’t be required if you are willing to manually download and install them yourself. I just want a place for people to share and install them easily.

      • SirPrimalform - April 22, 2018

        Alas, GOG has no Workshop equivalent. And sadly it doesn’t matter if the GOG version has manual mod support, Steam Workshop support means some modders will only bother to upload their mods to SW. It doesn’t matter that the GOG version supports mods if there’s no way for us to get the mods. :(
        Opus Magnum is a good example where there are tons of user created levels that we’re locked out of simply because there’s no way for us to *get* the files. It’s not the dev’s fault but it’s what’s happened.

      • Pooka - May 15, 2018

        As SirPrimalform has said, the problem is less that GOG users don’t have a Workshop equivalent, and more that Workshop mods are tied to the Steam system. You have to own the game on Steam to download the mods: if you own the Humble version, you’re tough out of luck. Which is a valid concern. You may be interested in hearing about the new mod.io project which is basically store-less Workshop. If not, you should develop a solution with non-Steam owners put in mind. Just my two cents. I’m sorry to hear about the sales, as well. Been enjoying Treasure Adventure Game, though I have to get back to it sometime now that I’m less busy.

  2. Matthew Cherry - April 22, 2018

    Wow, that’s a pity. I’ve been playing for a while, and it’s an excellent game. Not sure what to say about the depression, although I can’t really blame you; for a game this good, sales ought to be much higher.

  3. Asasf - April 27, 2018

    Hey. Thanks for the update, and the honesty. It is appreciated.

    I would like to mention, please don’t hope that continuing to support TAW will somehow generate more significant sales or success – it likely won’t. I would hate to see you burned again…

    I’m very happy to read you feel more stable now :) You seem like a really good guy. Best of luck in life and in whatever you do in the future :)

    • Stephen Orlando - April 27, 2018

      Thanks!

      As I mentioned in the post, I’m working on the game a lot less now. It’s become more of a hobby again (like it was when I made TAG).
      My main goal in continuing to update the game is two-fold: First, to continue to keep sales coming in (even if it’s a trickle). I should have mentioned this in the post, but we do have 10,000 Steam users who have wishlisted TAW. I think we can convert a portion of them with updates and sales.
      Secondly, Now I can get back to what I really love about game development: level design. The plan is to create a brand new “island” with new puzzles, platforming and combat challenges. It’ll be unlike anything else in the game and since it will be unlocked post-game I will have a lot of flexibility in creating levels that utilize all the player’s abilities.

  4. liknzelda - May 4, 2018

    Have you thought of sending copies to major Let’s Players like Game Grumps and Markiplier etc to increase exposure?

  5. Frikomid - May 14, 2018

    I’ve loved this game since TAG was released and I preordered TAW almost as soon as I saw the development announced years ago. And I have to say that you’ve made an incredible game, again.
    It’s sad to read that sales haven’t been quite good but they’ll rise somehow, the product is great. Maybe if it’s sold in a bundle or anything… who knows?
    I also made an article about the game for a blog I have with some friends, hope it helps a bit.
    I really hope everything goes great to you!

  6. Livasa - May 19, 2018

    I watched a stream of this game and immediately fell in love with it, sadly i am one of those scrubs who only owns a mac. I have no idea what goes into making a game compatible for other systems so i don’t know how much work is required. Is there any hope for non-windows users to ever play this game?

    • netvor - June 28, 2018

      +1. I only use Linux (Debian) nowadays; there’s more than enough awesome games on GOG to entertain me. So I don’t plan ever giving money to M$ just to build a Win gaming machine.

      So TA being one of my most favorite games, it hurts me that TAW is win-only.

  7. UrbanMonk - June 23, 2018

    I was excited for this when you first announced it, but then I didn’t hear back about it until recently when it went on sale for the summer. I didn’t see anything about the game anywhere. Anyway I’m not sure what you used to build the game, but it might have better success on the nintendo switch. If you used Fusion they’re porting game to the switch for a fee, and game maker is adding switch support. I’d give that a shot.

  8. Fabylon5 - July 5, 2018

    Hello Mr Orlando,

    since other metroidvanias like Steam World Dig 2 seem to flourish on Nintendo’s Switch… would it be easy to convert TAW to that platform? I reckon it’d be much easier to get highlighted in Nintendo’s storefront.

    Regards
    Fabian

    PS: I love your game and recommended it to my friends and to a PC Gaming Website. I hope they’re gonna review it. (gamestar.de)

    • Stephen Orlando - July 9, 2018

      We’ve looked into porting and although we would LOVE to bring it to Switch and other systems, it’s something we can’t afford at the moment. However, the sales of TAW continue at the rate they have been it’s feasible that it will raise enough money this year to fund the ports.

  9. Bob the - July 5, 2018

    What is the discord server

  10. P Mit - July 7, 2018

    Your openness is stunning. I want you and your team to know that I think your game has got great soul, and that it’s a great production. I was blown away with the music and gameplay of TAG, and I was glad to pay you all back and pay for TAW. I admire your bravery in facing such discouragement and still moving on. It takes an incredible person to continue to the end of such a long project, and again an incredible person to face outcomes that are terrifying and hurtful. Anyway. You all will land somewhere excellent with those qualities, so I wish you all the best.

    • Stephen Orlando - July 9, 2018

      Thank you for this comment. Your kindness is greatly appreciated. Since I’ve posted this things have gotten even better both for me personally and with TAW. The summer Steam sale did really well for us – almost tripled out sales up to that point. It’s still not game-changing numbers but it’s promising. We converted about 15% of users who wishlisted TAW. And our wish-list grew a lot too (most likely people waiting for a bigger discount). We have some future sales promotions in the works and some other exciting stuff we hope to announce soon. I still have confidence that TAW will find its audience eventually.

  11. Nicholas Miller - July 19, 2018

    Hope things looking better for you still love playing TAW to this day since beta testing it is shame seemed like got instant gone from the new releases from over populated games releases most not even good best of luck for you.

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