Outwitted: One Man Left's latest is "a sales disaster"15 Oct 2012 0
As the people behind Betamax, the Sega Dreamcast team, and John DeLorean all know: quality is not a guarantor of success. Now one of my favourite developers, One Man Left, know that too. In a frank profile in Wired's Game|Life blog, OML's Adam Stewart reveals just how little money Outwitters made, despite being skylined by Apple and receiving no end of rave reviews (including ours).
The problem isn't just that OML made it too difficult for players to give them money (the miscalculation that left Gasketball devs Mikengreg homeless earlier this year), but that the game was only downloaded half a million times - a fraction of the player base that current conventional wisdom states a free-to-play game needs to survive. "Is the app icon too bland? Is the name not high-concept enough? Is the strategy genre too nerdy?"
I would humbly posit that the main problem is the mixed signals Outwitters gave. The cartoony graphics were aimed at making the most accessible game possible, but those graphics adorned a fairly cerebral strategy game. Casual gamers looking for a 5-minute fix of entertainment were bound to be put off by Outwitters' learning curve, which must have curtailed the sort of word-of-mouth buzz enjoyed by more immediately-grokked free-to-play hits like Pocket Planes. Hardcore strategy gamers, on the other hand, were turned off by the cutesy look in droves - look at the comments on earlier Outwitters posts right here on PT.
I hope Outwitters isn't the last strategy game we see from One Man Left, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were. For more background, have a look at my OML interview from back in May.