The last post was about unreasonable fan expectations for ongoing support in videogames. Today let’s talk about some games that continue to get such support, even though the likely financial benefits are minimal.
First though let’s set the table here; outside of major studio titles, most games on Steam are ‘indie’ titles, with many being the first release from a studio you have never heard of, and might never hear from again. There is no long-term ‘brand loyalty’ to worry about. There isn’t much of a risk to ‘I’ll never buy a title from X studio again!” statements, because odds are pretty decent said studio never releases another title anyway (if the first wasn’t a hit). In many cases the dev ‘team’ behind a title is a few people, sometimes even just one.
Yet despite all of that, many titles I’ve played got a surprising amount of post-release support. The game Banished immediately comes to mind, both because it was made by one person (still incredible considering the depth and quality of that game), and because it was supported long after release without a single piece of DLC or additional paid anything. I imagine all that post-release support didn’t really generate a ton of added revenue; the game sold what it sold at release, and post-release I think it would have continued to sell at basically the same rate whether it was patched up a bit or not. At worst I think the difference might be 10-15%, because remember most sales post-release are likely while under heavy discount.
Another title that springs to mind is Stonehearth, which was in early access for years, and now post-1.0 release, continues to get updated. Again if I had to guess, I’d say the majority of Stonehearth sales happened during early access, and that moving to 1.0 wasn’t a major spike in sales. Considering the number of years the game was in development, I’m left wondering why the dev team continues to stick with the title now. My best guess is it’s a side project/hobby for them, and that while the financial aspect helps justify the time invested, it’s not the primary driver. And if its not that… I don’t get it.
The main point however is that today in gaming, while not always the case, we are extremely lucky that devs will continue to support and improve our games longer after we have handed over our money. It not only means that a game you already own will get better, but that when you arrive late to a title, its likely in a highly improved state, and you are getting a higher quality product than what was originally planned.
Support that isn’t related to bug fixes either. Some devs release an astonishing amount of content without fees. Even if there eventually is a DLC, it does feel like you’re getting way more bang for the buck (e.g. Witcher) and it’s an easy sell.
I play Rainbow Six Siege and I am really impressed with the post launch support. I actually didn’t like it at first but I played it again a year later and the devs changed it into a completely different game, one that I could get into.
I sure hop that this is not just a trend, but a new essential business practice for companies that want our business