Weathering a Storm
After the remarkable high of the Kickstarter, the response to Sunless Skies in Early Access hasn’t met the level of Sunless Sea in terms of sales. It sold about 15% as many copies as Sunless Sea in the comparable time period.
We think there are a few reasons for this. In hindsight, we went into Early Access too early. The game wasn’t immediately ready for media attention, we lost a key promotional moment; people aren’t talking about the game as much as we’d hope.
The marketplace is also hugely different to the last time we launched an Early Access game (in 2014), and Sunless Skies just isn’t as visible as Sunless Sea was. The success of our Kickstarter probably also led to fewer people buying it at EA launch, which will have made it less visible on storefronts; thousands of people had already picked up their copy.
What does this mean? Development is progressing rapidly (check out our latest Exploration build if you want to see more), and there's no danger of us failing to deliver the project you backed. But the business has a lot less cash in the bank than we wanted to have at this point. Late last year we made some hard decisions to ensure a couple of things: that we don’t reach launch in a financial state that would put the studio in danger of closing before we can make another game, and that we continue with a better structure for a business making games of our kind. With much regret, we have just completed a redundancy consultancy process and four of us are leaving as a result.
In 2017 we rejuvenated Fallen London, and we received much heartwarming feedback from players who returned to the game for Christmas to find the fruits of a lot of hard work.
Something that hasn’t been working as well is the Fallen London mobile app. Despite our best efforts during development, it just doesn’t function as we wanted it to, and we’ve reluctantly concluded that much of this is due to some fundamental architectural decisions that it’s not now practical to change. It also hasn’t been as popular as we’d hoped, and every update we make to the game needs to be duplicated for the app, making it harder and slower for us to improve the game overall. Sadly, for these reasons, we plan to close it down in Q2 2018.
Some good news: work is almost complete that will make Fallen London web look much more like a modern website!
It will provide a much better experience than the current website on mobile, and not impose the same development burdens as the mobile app. We’re hopeful that it’s a better solution for players and for us. We’ll have more news about this soon.
- Sunless Skies continues on its path to launch, but we won’t be releasing in May. Right now we’re working on updates that will improve Movement and Combat (due this month) and the release of Albion. We’ll have a revised launch window within the month.
- We’re retiring the Fallen London app in Q2, and Fallen London on web will be re-launched. There will be a further announcement about this soon, but in the meantime if you have any questions please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- We’re also officially retiring Fundbetter, our fund for small narrative games, until business improves for us. Giving back to the community was very rewarding, and we have some ideas for how we’d do it again in future, but right now we just don’t have the spare funds or bandwidth.
- Three years since its initial release, we’ll be tying up loose ends in Sunless Sea (including releasing the special Blemmigan unlocked by this Kickstarter). We will continue to support the game, but it will be the last update for a while as we focus on Sunless Skies.
Into the Fog
We’re keenly aware that, like all indie studios, we are a small and vulnerable vessel. We’re committed to keeping this studio open and making games. We’re in no danger of failing to deliver Sunless Skies, and never have been. The decisions we’ve made over the last few months will enable us to make more games after Sunless Skies and be around for many years to come. Your support, be it financial, on social media, in Steam reviews, or simply by talking about our games, is as always so welcome. We look forward to telling you more about the relaunch of Fallen London, and especially to welcome you to Albion!