Excuse the pun but, Firewatch is hot stuff. When developer Campo Santo’s debut release rolled out back in February, it managed to shift 500,000 copies at full price in its first month. Now, four months on, the studio has claimed take up of the indie hit as been “overwhelming”.
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“We didn’t actually have launch projections,” composer Chris Remo told UK trade mag MCV of the game, which tells the story of the aftermath of the Yellowstone fires of 1988.
“We didn’t have a set of internal figures when we were saying: ‘if it sells this well, it’s a success and if it doesn’t it’s a failure’. Our hope was that it would sell well in a reasonable amount of time to not only recoup the development budget but pay back Panic – our funding partner – for its investment and allow it to make some kind of profit as well.
“All that said, it did sell better than expected. What I mean by that is simply, whatever our expectations may have been, the game did better than that. We were really surprised and happy about it. It was a really stressful period because we have a fairly small staff that had to handle all the post-launch issues.”
As you might expect, the success of the digital version has caused some fans to call on Campo Santo - which is comprised of veterans from Telltale Games, Klei Entertainment and Irrational - to release a physical version. On that, Remo said its on the developer's radar, though there are currently no firm plans in place.
“We’d like to do it, but it’s a matter of the right situation presenting itself or us just finding the time and resource to do it,” he added. “It’s probably mainly a logistical issue. We don’t have any specific plans for it at this point.”
Interestingly, MCV also probed Remo for his position on price points. Is $19.99 too much for gamers to pay for a relatively contained game like Firewatch? “It’s important as a developer to not become too distant from your audience to the point when any criticism is dismissed out of hand as arising out of a place of ignorance,” he replied.
“There is a mentality of: ‘if only they knew how hard we worked, they wouldn’t make this complaint, don’t they know how hard it is to make video games?’ I have come face-to-face with that attitude inside other studios and I find it extremely distasteful. I don’t like the idea of a player needing to have pre-requisite knowledge in order to appreciate the thing you have done. The thing should speak for itself.
“But game price is an artistic choice. It’s essentially a bet that you are placing, not knowing in the future what the result is going to be. We’re lucky that the game did sell well.”