The Witness has now been on sale for a week, so it seems like a good time to post a financial summary. Often, independent developers find these kinds of numbers useful in making their own plans, and the general public can find them interesting too.
There is a wrinkle, which is that I can’t be too precise about the sales results on specific platforms, because often when we sign a deal with a particular store, we agree not to reveal their sales numbers. I am actually not sure at this time which stores we are allowed to be specific about and which we aren’t, and I would have to dig up and sort through a number of contracts to be sure about it; but that is not a good use of time right now, since I am spending most of my day supporting the users who have technical problems (shipping games on PCs these days is really not fun). The situation can be thorny in subtle ways, too, because if I post information about all stores but one, then I am implicitly revealing the sales figures for that last store, which is not allowed.
Finally, I want to make clear that we did not make this game in order to make money. We were trying to build a beautiful / interesting / intricate thing, first and foremost. The money just helps us stay in business in order to build new things. It is very easy on the Internet to read a financial posting like this cynically, so I urge folks out there not to do that.
Okay, so here’s what I can say:
Across all platforms, The Witness has totalled over $5 million USD gross revenue in the first week, and it has sold substantially more than 100,000 units.
This is a good chunk more revenue in one week than Braid made in its entire first year, from August 2008-September 2009. (Braid initially launched on XBLA in August 2008, and it came to Steam in April 2009). Braid was considered a hit independent game at the time.
We can also compare sales by units instead of revenue; this is a little more of an apples-to-oranges comparison because The Witness has a higher price than Braid did (Braid launched at $14.99 [$16.50 when inflation-adjusted to 2015 dollars], and The Witness launched at $39.99). By number of units, the first week of each individual platform handily beats Braid’s first week of sales. (Witness on PC by itself beat Braid’s first week by a decent margin, and Witness on PSN by itself beat Braid’s first week by a decent margin, counting only by number of units). This is great because as price goes up, naturally the number of units sold goes down. So the fact that we beat Braid by units, more than doubly, is a really nice success.
The Witness launched on two platforms, PSN and Windows PC. Neither of these platforms dominates our sales; PC is very strong for us, and PSN is very strong for us.
There are some publicly-available guesstimates for specific platforms on sites such as SteamSpy, but the numbers that SteamSpy is reporting for The Witness are a bit too low (though this is kind of to be expected, I guess, from the way that site works).
So, the game is doing great. That doesn’t mean we have broken even on our development cost yet! Because our development budget was so high, $5 million in revenue is not enough to recover it yet (because we split that revenue with the storefronts, we have to subtract VAT in Europe, etc). However, it is looking like, as time goes on, we should break even and make a comfortable safety margin on top of that, which will allow us to make more nice games in the future — unless some kind of world economic disaster happens.
As I mentioned, right now we are dealing mostly with PC graphics driver problems, and we are also working on adding some features to the game about configurable controls and rendering options, for PC and PS4.
After this, in the near future, we will start investigating the bringing the game to other platforms. Under serious consideration are: iOS, Android, Xbox One, OS X. We will provide more-concrete information about these as it becomes available!