Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice has, after three months, turn out to be worthwhile for developer Ninja Theory. Since launching in August, the third-person motion recreation has offered 500,000 copies and garnered an excessive amount of reward for the best way it approaches the difficult topic of psychological sickness. This is nice information for Ninja Theory, after all, however its success may also little doubt be welcomed by these hoping that Hellblade will herald the arrival of AAA-quality video games designed by indie studios. I don’t suppose it’s going to.
In a ultimate dev diary, Ninja Theory employees clarify how they had been in a position to make a recreation like this with a small studio, no writer and no crowdfunding. As a part of that, Tameem Antoniades, ‘chief creative ninja’, says that one in every of their targets was to “prove that there was a space between indie and AAA games that could work commercially.” Dominic Matthews, ‘product development ninja’, additionally urges different builders in an identical place to get in contact in the event that they need to know extra about how they will do the identical.
Now don’t get me flawed: I can see that one other studio would possibly have the ability to repeat this success, I simply suppose it’s going to be extraordinarily uncommon.
First off, the attractive stats. Hellblade has now hit 500,000 gross sales, and when the dev diary was recorded it had generated $13 million in income. It took three years to make and the studio dimension was round 20 individuals. Ninja Theory anticipated to attend 9 months earlier than it broke even, nevertheless it took three.
Even although it stored prices down by retaining the crew small, three years of growth isn’t low cost. Ninja Theory’s finances was enhanced by a co-production grant from the Wellcome Trust, whose remit consists of increasing public understanding of science and well being, plus loans and UK tax reduction. That accounted for slightly below half of the finances. The relaxation got here from Ninja Theory itself, saved up from years of work-for-hire tasks. So even with all the help the studio bought, it nonetheless needed to fall again on years of expertise and the cash it earned from that.
So sure, when you’ve labored on video games like DmC: Devil May Cry and Disney Infinity, and also you’re in a position to get grants and loans, then possibly, simply possibly, you may replicate Hellblade’s success. It would additionally assist if there was a touch of controversy to drum up some extra press consideration. But even then, there are such a lot of methods it may go flawed. One of probably the most notable benefits AAA studios have is a writer’s stupidly big advertising finances. Ninja Theory initially needed to depend on followers and phrase of mouth, and it was solely after getting 75,000 pre-orders that a correct digital advertising marketing campaign might be began.
I don’t need to be a Debbie Downer, as a result of I’d completely like to see extra indie studios in a position to blur the traces between indie and AAA. But I can’t assist however really feel like Hellblade is the exception, not the rule.