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Oddworld: Soulstorm was an early success on the PlayStation 5. That was partly due to Sony’s deal giving the game to PlayStation Plus subscribers on PS5 at no extra cost. But it was probably also because new PS5 owners were hungry for new content in April 2021. But while that deal allowed developer Oddworld Inhabitants to finish the game with some guaranteed cash, studio founder Lorne Lanning told Xbox Expansion Podcast host Luke Lohr he also sees some downsides.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword. [With Oddworld: Soulstorm] we – out of necessity to get the project done, and we had to deal with some late technical debt issues and talent issues. The gaming industry is booming. Big companies are [paying developers] fortunes. So it is more difficult to keep companies and more difficult to contract companies. And Sony was like, ‘hey, why don’t we do a deal.’ And the way we worked out the intent of closing the deal was that we would be off for a month [PlayStation Plus]†
But Lanning and his team expected Soulstorm to launch in January 2021. By this time, they didn’t expect many people to have PlayStation 5s. And the way the Sony deal worked is that players would only get the PS5 version of the game through PS Plus at no extra cost. So Lanning expected about 10% to 20% of a few million new PS5 owners would get Soulstorm through their Sony subscription. However, the calculus of that deal quickly changed.
“Covid just completely kicked us in the gut,” Lanning said. “Every studio we worked with will be locked and everyone will be working from home. So no one could hand the controller over to the person next to him – and that’s how you build games. That’s a long way of saying we needed the money [from Sony] to complete the project.”
But those development issues also pushed Soulstorm from January to April. This means that there were significantly more PS5s in the world. In addition, the lock-downs still drove more people to video games. This created a scenario where significantly more people took advantage of the PS Plus deal than Lanning had first anticipated.
“We had the most downloaded game on the PS5,” Lanning says. “In the end it was almost 4 million units or something like that – all for free. Because they were all subscriptions. So for us it was devastating.”
Lanning is quick not to blame Sony.
“That’s how slipping can really sting the developer,” Lanning said. “No one has committed a dirty deed. No one played pool unfairly. You know, this was just Earth in 2020 and 2021.”
A PS Plus deal is another variable developers have to juggle when trying to succeed. And it’s one that’s hard to balance, as Soulstorm probably wouldn’t have sold 4 million copies on PlayStation. But would that excitement for new content on a new system have benefited sales even beyond the free deal on PS Plus? Probably, but Soulstorm missed that because it cost the guaranteed money.
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This post Oddworld creator says PS Plus was ‘devastating’ for Soulstorm sales
was original published at “https://venturebeat.com/2022/04/13/oddworld-creator-says-ps-plus-was-devastating-to-soulstorm-sales/”