Fun Sales Fakts

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!

 

101 Comments:

  1. Just wanna give a huge THANK YOU for the mindblowing experience that is The Witness. Thouroughly engaging, vivid and mindbending piece of interactive art with novel and fantastic puzzle mechanics. 6 years or so in the making and it shows in every bit of detail.

    Bought it for PS4, locked myself away from all stupidass walkthrough scripting hell going around internet these days and I have all lasers except one. Once I get that, I’ll enter the mountain.

    btw, I watched the credits already. Once I learned to watch around, I remembered the initial area. I tried, but to no avail, so I started a new game and, lo and behold, it worked. did you hurt yourself? lol

  2. Hi! I am a Chinese. I really want a OS X version~~I bought the Braid and it’s the most wonderful game that I have played. When I read the news about you were making a new game I’m so excited! But I couldn’t find a OS X version on the Steam. Please make it available as soon as you can. I want it so bad :)

  3. The Witness has officially knocked Portal 2’s crown off and claimed the spot as my #1 favorite puzzle game of all-time. What it lacks in humor (mind you, the game is not devoid of humor), it more than makes up for in deep philosophical realizations (both in the obvious collectibles and in the more subtle visuals found throughout the game) and puzzle/environmental design at a level that literally blew my mind on multiple occasions.

    [sarcasm]
    The only quandary of The Witness is the apparent lack of an armored transport vehicle with a mounted turret. This way, the player has to make the very difficult decision of a) solving the puzzle panel or b) blasting the puzzle panel to smithereens with a heavy machine gun.
    [/sarcasm]

    The Witness, in my mind, has solidified its role as the de facto epitome of excellent game design.

  4. I hope the sales keep up :)

  5. Piet Schoenepauck

    I really wanted to say thank you to Jonathan and the team. It is such a joy to discover and put to use all the problem-solving strategies to complete the game. I think my IQ actually went up 10 points while playing The Witness. The island is another place that feels like home now. It really is an outstanding experience. Congratulations!

  6. OSX ASAP PLZ. Not a hardcore gamer but a hardcore Blow fan…have been anticipating this for years.

  7. Any news about a physical release on PS4?

  8. Thanks for posting this! I’m always curious about the sales numbers. Congrats on a successful launch! I’m playing it every day for about 2-3 to hours at a time until my mind turns to mush and I hit a wall on a tricky puzzle. It was great timing to come out now that I am on bed rest for the last month of my pregnancy, so I have plenty of time on my hands. Lots of “Aha!” moments like those in Braid, with a wider range of difficulty across the puzzles. There is a lot of stuff on this island and a lot of layers! Definitely worth the wait!

  9. Will be grabbing The Witness from PSN as soon as it goes on sale. Looking forward to it. Love these types of games.

    • This game is worth every dollar at full price, IMO.

      Also, does the PS4 version support mouse and keyboard? I just bought that version for my mom due to her long love of Myst and puzzle games in general.

  10. Any word on when those rendering options will come out? I sadly can’t play the game on my computer for more than 20 seconds at a time in its current state because my graphics aren’t powerful enough. Will there be options to turn it even further down?

    I’d rather avoid buying an entirely new computer just to play this but, considering how long I’ve waited for this game, I might do just that.

  11. Alexander Stanislaw

    I’ll be very sad if an OS X version doesn’t come out.

    But the bills have to paid, and if that means not having it on OS X, I respect that.

  12. I’m so happy the game is doing well, because it means you will be able to keep making great games.

    Been loving my time with the game so far, really forces you to look at things from lots of different angles and just generally lots of lateral thinking. Plus it’s just beautiful, visually and otherwise.

    Glad to hear you’re working on technical issues though, because it’s been crashing a lot for me, so much so that despite having a blast with it, I’ve put it on hold until some patches come rolling in.

    Keep up the good work in any case and thanks for a great experience for our brains.

  13. This was just fantastic.

    Just got to the ‘endgame’ but I think there’s a lot still to do.

    One of the best games I’ve played, great job to all involved. A lovely and interesting game and one I’m sure I’ll be thinking about for some time.

  14. The Witness for Android TV and with controller support would be awesome. Congratulations for another great game.

  15. Is there a customer support email to contact? there is an issue with the desert temple laser when activated, it doesn’t point at the mountain, instead it points into the sea, this results in on of the locks on the box to remain locked. I hope some attention is paid to this issue.

  16. Havent played it yet, but from what the game looks like, you should implement vr support. Yay.

  17. aha, desert laser isn’t a glitch. you just need to think outside of the box, just like with all the puzzles in this game.

  18. I think this game would earn a lot on mobile platform, with the high possibility that it will outsale the PCs in terms of units sold.

  19. How are you determining future platforms? I know blog comments are a poor market survey tool, but after all I’ve heard about this game (and Zoe Keating on the trailer didn’t hurt) I’d buy today if it ran on OS X or iOS.

  20. Can’t wait for this to come to OSX or iOS!

  21. Based on previous mentions, I thought iOS was already in progress, just running a couple of months behind the PSN/PC releases… It now seems that iOS is just another option to be considered. I have been eagerly awaiting this release since last year when I heard about it – I even put it on my calendar months in advance! I loved and played Braid on MacOS when it came out, so I was ecstatic to hear you were creating something new. I do hope that iOS or MacOS is coming very soon! I’m trying to avoid spoilers since I don’t have any other way to play it. :)

    (i.e. this is just another voice voting for iOS/MacOS, please!) :)

  22. Great game!! It was a pleasure for my brain. I would like this kind of game in horror situation like 7th guest and 11th hour !!!!

  23. Congrats Jonathon and team. One of the most satisying games when the penny finally drops on a tricky puzzle. The progression of each group of puzzles is really well designed. I hope the sales enable the team to keep doing what they (and we) love.

  24. Would love to play the game on OS X! Thanks.

  25. Thank you for developing this masterpiece of game! I am in deep love and so glad that people still can enjoy a slow and smart game. Myst got a special place in my heart and I will put The Witness right next to it.

    PS4-version runs smooth without glitches!

  26. ditto on the iOS, OSX (steam), or if you got the balls Apple TV…even with the shitty remote restrictions apple places on it’s game developers.

  27. I will buy an iPad when this game is released on that platform. I will keep myself entertained for at least a year with just this game.

  28. Another OS X user here who would buy the game in a jiffy were it available. I’m kinda surprised by how many such comments there are, but maybe the slower pace of the game plays well to Apple’s non-hardcore gamer set.

  29. I’ll add to the chorus! The game look and sounds so amazing, and for once I’m very envious of my PC-owning friends. Please port to Mac soon, and I’ll buy it the instant it comes out!

  30. This would be an immediate purchase for me, if it is made available on Xbox One. Take my money, please.

  31. Jonathan, a heartfelt thank you to you and your team for this sublime masterpiece that stimulates both the mind and the senses. It truly makes the case for video games as art, as does Braid, and I am grateful to have experienced both. Kudos to you, and I can’t wait to see what you’ll do from here.

  32. “As I mentioned, right now we are dealing mostly with PC graphics driver problems”

    I really do sympathise; as a programmer, those kinds of issues are pretty much the last thing I’d like to spend time working on. Do you anticipate lower support costs for a hypothetical Mac version, given that there should be a LOT less platform variation?

  33. Another vote for OS X! Every few days since the game was released I tinker with Disk Utility and Boot Camp Assistant and shop for Windows licenses, but I can’t justify the cost and hassle of installing Windows just for one game.

    I’d vote with my wallet and buy a copy immediately if I knew OS X support was coming!

  34. I’d buy a copy for OSX immediately!

  35. +1 for OSX. I don’t own a PC, but would buy this game in a heartbeat if it were available on mac. Thanks for sharing the fun facts!

  36. When you said PC I thought you were including Mac and Linux. Please support both. Also please take a look at Snappy packaging. It might make porting easier.

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