Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is one of the best examples of a successful mid-tier video game in the last few years. Developed by a team of roughly twenty people over three years, the game did a really impressive job of representing mental health through gameplay mechanics and caught many gamers off guard with its level of polish.
Thankfully, it seems like the game has turned a profit for the studio faster than expected. In the first three months on sale, the game has sold over 500K copies, resulting in $13 million in revenue, taking the profit from breaking even into profit. The studio had been expecting to hit this point after six months rather than the three months it took.
Ninja Theory's Tameem Antoniades has these defiant words:
"The escalating stakes in the AAA retail publishing model has killed off countless independent studios like us, many smaller publishers, and is now straining even the largest of publishers. This isn't survival of the fittest but a routing of the creative base upon which this industry was built.
The future isn't written and we don't believe that the writing is on the wall. AAA will always exist but we need strong alternatives as well.
Three years ago we announced our intention to find a way to do our best work outside of the AAA retail model and have openly documented the journey in our thirty development diaries.
The final step is to share our commercial model and digital sales data for the benefit of other developers. The more data we have for alternative business models, the more developers can take informed commercial and creative risks. For the benefit of our beloved medium, we'd like to encourage other developers to share their own data as well wherever possible.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us and made Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice a commercial and creative success."