Sci-fi sucks ?

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jack1974
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Sci-fi sucks ?

Post by jack1974 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:15 am

I broke my back shoveling snow this morning :evil: so I spent an hour to check the recent sales trends etc.
I discovered something that while before could have been a random coincidence, now I think it's actually a fact: sci-fi games sells shit :mrgreen: (pardon my french).

Let's see, starting from my old games, I compare the overall revenues (so including direct, Steam, mobile, bundles):
Bionic Heart = highest review rating on Steam of all my pure VN, and third game based on reviews (not something simple to achieve). Same artist and writer (me haha) as Heileen. Heileen sold almost DOUBLE than Bionic Heart! :o
Planet Stronghold = OK, it shows its age and limits. Still, I remember a while ago people on RPGcodex/RPGwatch were enthusiast about the combat/skill system. Does better than Bionic Heart, and of many other games (probably because I was in a Humble too) but if I compare it with Always Remember Me... sold worse! :lol:
Bionic Heart 2... let's not talk about it (funnily enough, got super positive reviews too, but took SIX MONTHS just to recover costs, one of my worst selling games of the last 4 years!).

Lastly PSCD, it's out not even a month, but so far sold half as Loren first month, and 1/3 of SOTW first month (SOTW in the first month sold better than Loren, then dropped fast). It's true that need still to wait for Steam (on mobile I don't think will do well) so I can't draw final conclusions about this one yet, but if I consider the quality of the game... hmm it should have done MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCH better :roll:

So, clearly sci-fi is a bad choice, at least for VN/story based games. Or maybe just for me, no clue why (and I even used different writers/artist! so...).

At this point I think after PS2 I'll be done with sci-fi, unless I want to do one just "for fun" because I got an interesting idea, but clearly I'm not going to put much efforts on it anymore.

kadakithis
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Re: Sci-fi sucks ?

Post by kadakithis » Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:00 am

I think it is because most people dont associate it with romance as other genres horror/fantasy. They expect a combat heavy game or a complex narrative out of Sci fi. I remember I had to be convinced to play mass effect by 2 or 3 people who reassured me that it was not Halo. Future soldiers in many peoples minds equal halo. Anything referencing Star Trek seems immune to the phenomena, but often times sci fi I guess needs an intriguing gimmick of why it is in the future or market to a combat ready crowd.

But this is all conjecture on my part.

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jack1974
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Re: Sci-fi sucks ?

Post by jack1974 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:08 am

I think you might be right. Considering females are (by far) my biggest customer base, it could be a good explanation.
I'm trying to convince my wife to watch Battlestar Galactica since years, unsuccessful :lol: Some people on twitter said that it can't simply do the equation "females don't like sci-fi" because of all the ones who played mass effect. Which is true, however maybe because was famous and people got to know (like you by friends or reading online) that there was romances. I surely don't have the marketing power or word of mouth of Bioware :mrgreen:

Troyen
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Re: Sci-fi sucks ?

Post by Troyen » Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:52 am

That sucks. Sci-fi is my favorite genre, yet it's so hard to find good sci-fi games. Especially good RPGs or VNs.

The desperate attempt to find any kind of non-RTS/FPS sci-fi game to play is how I found PS1 (and winter wolves) in the first place.

On a sidenote, are you sure the sales are because of the game itself or the release timing? If I recall correctly, the major studios try to avoid January releases because it's kind of the holiday-hangover season where everyone is playing all the stuff they got already (or spent all their money on the holiday sales). It's sort of like releasing a big movie in September when school starts up again.

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jack1974
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Re: Sci-fi sucks ?

Post by jack1974 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:55 am

Haha yes, that's why I'm a bit sad too! I like sci-fi (as well as fantasy), so if was just for me, I would do many sci-fi games :mrgreen:
Anyway as I said PS1 did OK, so maybe sci-fi RPGs are still a possibility. But simple visual novels or story-based games... nope!

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jack1974
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Re: Sci-fi sucks ?

Post by jack1974 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 10:09 am

Troyen wrote: On a sidenote, are you sure the sales are because of the game itself or the release timing? If I recall correctly, the major studios try to avoid January releases because it's kind of the holiday-hangover season where everyone is playing all the stuff they got already (or spent all their money on the holiday sales). It's sort of like releasing a big movie in September when school starts up again.
No it was a general consideration, as you read in my first post, about PSCD is still too early. But if I compare all the sci-fi games I made in the past... the pattern seems clear!
Also January is not an issue - I released many games in January in the past (even on Steam) and I didn't notice any impact on sales because of the period. Might be a more general issue of this moment due to Steam dominance and a overall decline of indie direct sales. But anyway, my conclusions aren't drawn just by PSCD but from all my sci-fi games I made in the past years :)

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IotaOne
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Re: Sci-fi sucks ?

Post by IotaOne » Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:19 pm

Ah, one of my favourite topics. I had this discussion numerous times about Science Fiction in general . Still my conclusion is "females don't like sci-fi", some thoughts about this:
-In generation X Sci-Fi was purely a nerd and thus a male thing. This is an extensive topic itself, so i wont go on further about it.
-Sci-Fi is often associated with Technobabble, which people dont like in general.
-It works if the "Tech" stuff is substantially reduced, see Star Wars. Then again it is disputed if Star Wars actually should be labelled Sci-Fi (you see what happens when they explain something in Episode I), again very extensive topic itself.
-Probably most important: specific expectations are associated with Science Fiction. As you pointed out, it is difficult to influence this without a big marketing budget.
"Truth is like poetry. And most people f*cking hate poetry."

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jack1974
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Re: Sci-fi sucks ?

Post by jack1974 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 1:13 pm

Some good points. Maybe to make a successful sci-fi game I should focus on male audience (just for those games) but in general I don't like doing this.
I wonder if might just be me, since I know well Dave of Wadjet Eye (maker of adventure games) and his most successful titles are sci-fi (Gemini Rue, etc).

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IotaOne
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Re: Sci-fi sucks ?

Post by IotaOne » Wed Feb 17, 2016 1:35 pm

I think he gathered the "right" audience, which made them successful. Furthermore except for Technobabylon none of the names of his games are instantly associated with typical Science Fiction.
So you actually can influence the behaviour of people by small changes. Just try to tell your wife about the BSG story without mentioning the name, space and spaceships, Science Fiction and any refeference to it.
"Truth is like poetry. And most people f*cking hate poetry."

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jack1974
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Re: Sci-fi sucks ?

Post by jack1974 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 1:40 pm

IotaOne wrote:Just try to tell your wife about the BSG story without mentioning the name, space and spaceships, Science Fiction and any refeference to it.
Haha I did!!! but when she discovered that most of the time the scenery is spaceship interiors and tech stuff, she still doesn't even want to try watching it :mrgreen:
(She doesn't play games though, so perhaps not the right audience anyway).

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