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  • Postmortem: Project Lake Ridden

    - Sara Casen

  • Technical Issues? We monitored the forums, social media and the Google Analytics tracking ID we implemented on our Steam page. Could it have been some kind of technical issue preventing people from buying? But no one stated they had any trouble performing the purchase in itself. Another aspect of "technical issues" could be that the game is fairly heavy to run, but it's not extreme by any means in 2018, and nothing we have seen to be mentioned too often by players.

    Publisher Push Needed? As discussed earlier the only kind of coverage we did not manage to secure was a spot at E3 or launch reviews on the big giants like IGN, PC Gamer, Polygon or Kotaku. We honestly have no idea if this is the deal breaker for selling games in 2018. Maybe a publisher could have pushed the sales of Lake Ridden better than we did? This is pure speculation and I'm not sure we'll ever get to know. Some of the publishers we spoke with during development jokingly asked us "what do you need us for when you have managed to get all this marketing on your own?".

    We worked with visibility and marketing for Lake Ridden since day #1, knowing it would be hard to get through the noise on Steam. Releasing a game on a platform where over 200 new games are launched every week is a massive challenge.

    Games Genres in 2018? Should we have added Battle Royal or blockchain to Lake Ridden? Jokes aside, is there still a viable market for single player puzzle games with a deep narrative in 2018? We like to believe that the tremendous success of games like Firewatch and Gone Home would prove so. But maybe players are growing tired of these kinds of games? A lot of what's big right now are fast-paced action stuff you play with your friends.

    Confusing Message? The game started out as a horror game. If you google "Lake Ridden" it's possible to feel confused about what kind of game it is. This could potentially repel the big group of people that love puzzles but hate getting scared. Then again, one only has to read one or two of the user reviews on Steam to understand it's absolutely not a horror game. The game's description even includes the line stating it's not a horror game nor a walking simulator (which has been a very appreciated move!).

    Wrong Publishing Platforms? Lake Ridden is a PC game and available on Humble, Steam and GOG. Would console have been a better fit for this kind of game? Again, this is just something we can only speculate in. We signed with one big console manufacturer quite early on, but since we were only two coders we could not work on a simultaneous release for the game. We would absolutely love to release the game on consoles one day or make it available on Mac.

     Ridden is so far only available on PC, but we would like to bring it to consoles one day. We would have loved to release it on as many platforms as possible but having only two programmers on the team made it unrealistic to aim for more than one platform.

    Indie Games on Steam 2018? Last but not least. To us, it's baffling that a game with 90% Positive, that spent 5 days on Steam's front page and managed to grab this much attention hasn't (yet) moved more copies than this four months after release. It's a game made by well-experienced developers and loved by those who played it. If we take a look at the statics for Steam that Valve shared on Nordic Game Conference 2018 they stated that the average Steam user buys 8 games/year. This number has been constant for two years now. Between 2004-2016 almost 11 500 games were released on Steam in total. In 2017 around 7 700 new games were released. In 2018 it's projected 11 000 games will release. Roughly 200 new games are released on Steam each week by now.

     average player on Steam buys 8 games/year and that (probably) on a big discount like 70-80%. In 2018 an estimated 11 000 new games are to be added to Steam. Lake Ridden was part of the Steam Summer Sale with a 30% discount but it did not help to increase our sales numbers.

    The average player on Steam buys 8 games/year and that (probably) on a big discount like 70-80%. Those 8 also include big AAA games like GTA, latest Tomb Raider, Rocket League, Battlefield and more. This means the competition to be one of these 8 games a year someone chooses to spend money on is absolutely fierce. While it's fundamentally a good thing that more gamers than ever are able to find their niche, without better systems for sorting and recommending relevant games it's hard to reach your target audience.

    A Way Forward

    There are many things we're proud of when looking back at the development of Lake Ridden! Making this game would not be possible without the immense support of the game dev community, our families, friends and everyone who believed enough in us to give this a chance. Releasing a game with 90% positive is a tremendous achievement, even more so when you consider this has been the studio's first game as a team! As we mentioned on our social media and developer blog we had to make the responsible and extremely tough decision to let everyone go (even us founders need to find new jobs). The praise Lake Ridden got, unfortunately, hasn't translated into the company's bank account (yet). Running a games studio of five people is not cheap. Sometimes you simply do your best and give it all you got, you make something awesome, but perhaps the timing wasn't right. This is a very tough pill to swallow, after pouring blood, sweat, and money into something for three years. However, the company still exists and the game is available on Steam, Humble and GOG.

     a tremendous achievement for a new team to release a game with the Steam ranking: Very Positive. We'll forever be proud of this and we know it would not have been possible without the support of so many other people <3

    We founders are showing the game at EGX Birmingham this week, and we're running a -25% sale on Steam to maximize the push, in hope of converting our Wishlistst to sales. Once again, we're tremendously thankful for all of you who supported us this far <3

    If you have any thoughts or questions on this text, don't hesitate to comment, reach out to me on Twitter or drop me an email to [email protected]!

    Sara -Producer of Lake Ridden


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