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!  

112 Comments:

  1. Thanks again for a wonderful game ;). Not perfect, but wonderful. Bring us more and have a great week.

  2. No serious consideration for Linux, really? :( Who will enjoy playing the witness in smartphones? But I understand the need to reach more sales…

    • Probably tablets rather than smartphones ;-)

    • Wondering that too. Maybe it’s just because of the marketshare, but then how many OS X users have hardware to run the game 60fps@1080p or higher. Not many, and the OpenGL is bad in OS X.

    • I was surprised to see consideration for OS X but not Linux. Both require an OpenGL renderer. Both have fairly small market size. I realize that OS X marketshare tends to be a higher than Linux, but given the high system requirements of the Witness and the relatively low performance of 3D drivers on OS X, are there that many more OS X users with PCs that would be able to handle the game than Linux users? I can see the reason for supporting neither OS X nor Linux, but don’t understand only doing one and not the other given the similar challenges and market size of each. Can you explain further, please?

  3. Hi Jon.

    Let me again say CONGRATULATIONS!

    Having played The Witness throughout this past week I can definitely say you (and your team) have made a truly extraordinary game! I am glad that it seems to have also achieved critical acclaim as well as strong initial interest & sales because — as other great works have shown — these outcomes are not always a given.

    After following you and this blog for so many years, and finally playing the game myself I feel delighted with what you’ve made, and stirred with so many thoughts. It is no exaggeration to say the game feels with me even when I’m not playing, and makes me want to keep diving back in for more. Having played so many other games over the years, to often feel put-off by various emerging trends, in many ways it feels as if The Witness was designed for me. Together you’ve made a game that is simultaneously brilliant, ingenious, mysterious and profound. THANK YOU!

    In closing I hope that as the year goes on you continue to feel encouraged to make as many of these one-of-a-kind games that you want going forward. I know I’ll be eager to see whatever happens next :-)

    ~Paulogy

  4. Congratulations to you and the rest of the team. You put out a thought provoking, unique experience. Here’s to many more in the future.

  5. As someone who has followed The Witness from the first public reveal many years ago, I am proud to have contributed to that total. It’s interesting to note that while many of my friends are also gamers, not many knew anything about the release until I started hyping it last week. I am not sure how it could have been marketed better without considerable expense, but I have to assume they just aren’t reading the same news sites that I am, because I have loved following your progress and have seen it pop up over and over again in recent years.

    My wife and I have not finished the game yet, but we’re 319 puzzles in and it has provided a whole week of excitement each evening as we’ve pieced together the wonderful world of the island you’ve created. The density and vibrancy of the content is really on another level from almost anything I can think of in prior games, and I can see the care taken and understand the long process of perfecting it.

    Thanks so much for your dedication, we can’t wait to discover the island’s remaining secrets and to see what you do next.

  6. Hi Jon and team,

    Those are great first-week figures! I, being a paying customer, am happy to be a part of those numbers. Like you mentioned, hopefully you guys will make what you invested back, plus some well-deserved profit so you can make the next great game.
    I am not even halfway through The Witness, but like Paul G. commented above, the game lingers in your mind and keeps calling you to come back for more discoveries – a sign of a truly great game. I too await your next project. I will again be glad to help with your next projects’s first-week sales figures! ;-)

  7. Wow, the game on iOS would be interesting, but not sure how well it would translate.
    I’m more interested in an OSX version.
    Been loving the game! ~425 puzzles solved so far!

  8. Hi Jonathan,

    I’m happy to be a small part of your life. I have no words to describe how amazing your work is. I hope you keep making awesome games.

    Best regards,
    Daniel

  9. Wanted to say good job to you and your team. I am very happy that you guys are slated to break even and come out even stronger to keep making incredible games.

    It was a long wait since braid but it was worth it! I’ve already bought the game three times, once for myself and two friends.

    Keep up the good work!

  10. I have so many things I want to say about this game, but it would sound like a giant rambling mess because I still haven’t sorted my thoughts out on it.

    I will say one thing though, this game has given me many new beautiful perspectives and the only thing I could want more from it is to forget everything and experience it all again.

    I think those are very good qualities in art.

    I’m very glad it’s doing well, despite the initial disappointment of many concluding that it’s “just line puzzles,” because it really is so much more than that. I’m very happy that there obviously is a large amount of people interested in this kind of experience, and even if there’s only .01% of people that got as much enjoyment and took the same kind of things away from it that I did, that’s a beautiful thing.

    I can’t possibly put into words how much I appreciate this experience that you and your team have worked to give us over a good chunk of the last decade. Thank you.

  11. Wow, this is impressing. I wish I could play it, but despite my jealousy that everyone else can, I am delighted that games that aren’t bovine shooting and not photorealistic can still reach so many gamers and actually impress people. Thanks for giving us the possibility to show that games can be art and truly fantastic :) And congratulations on so many sales :)

  12. Would love to play this on my Shield K1 tablet, or my iPhone 6s plus..sooner or later I will own the game I am sure. Congratulations, the game is beautiful from what I have seen so far. My friend bought it for the PS4 and he loves it (he is also stuck lol)

  13. Truly stunning game. Playing The Witness is a unique experience full of wonder and gorgeous scenery. I would like to thank everyone over at Thekla for bringing such a extraordinary experience to PlayStation, keep up the good work and I look forward to future games!

  14. Hey Jon,

    It makes me happy that games like this exist and happier to see that it looks like it will be a financial success as well. Maybe prove to the industry that games like this can be profitable so more thoughtful games get made.

    Thanks for the wonderful journey. Congrats to you and your team. ( ps. I see puzzles everywhere now. )

  15. Here here, Congrats! I blame Thekla for seeing tadpole shapes while walking outside or at the office, I find myself wanting to place a real-life reticle… Also, nice Oswin tribute on the island!!

  16. Will Thekla create a webpage listing employment opportunities?

  17. Thanks Jon! You ruined trees, clouds, and forests for me. I cant walk around a park without thinking theres a puzzle to be found. Just kidding….kindof!

    Congrats on those figures! Im still enjoying the game. I had to put it down for a few days because my dreams consisted mostly of solving puzzles….yikes!

  18. I’m really happy for you, Jon.
    Thank you once again for the great game and good luck.

  19. Would love to see The Witness on Android …tablet, of course. Beautiful!

  20. Game was solid, I didn’t see the driver issues on my PC, but Laptop I saw the shadow issue. Looked like the shadow buffers were not getting cleared back to 1. I saw it’s fixed, but I know for a fact the laptop would detect 11.1 and then not support things like UAVs in all shader stages.

  21. Hello Jonathan Blow and Team Witness! I’m super impressed by your game and I love how much thought, inspiration and love has gone into creating this epic masterpiece.

    I read somewhere that the game will come to retail for PS 4 and I am really eager to know when that will be, since I am a collector of video games and don’t want gems like these to remain as 1:s and 0:s on a harddrive, so please say you will release it on disc in the near future.

    Thank you in advance :)

  22. Thanks Jon, and all of Thekla, for bringing The Witness into the world.

    It’s a fond and distant memory of mine, I’m sat in the ballroom of Nottingham City Council house, not that long after the release of Braid, at GameCity, listening to you talk about the concept behind your next game… That of epiphany.

    For all these years I’ve remained as excited as I was in that room, charting your labour of love, and sometimes pain.

    It’s a wonder full game, and you have stayed true to that concept of epiphany. I don’t think I’ve ever said “wow” out loud as many times in a week before…

    Glad to see that you can continue The Work :)

    Rob.

  23. This game is so fun! I am having such a great time, I’ve forgotten how long I’ve been waiting for the game. Thanks to Team Thekla!

  24. A little note about PC controls :
    with azerty keyboards, we can’t use ZQSD keys to control movements as we are used to with any FPS. Nothing major as we still can use the arrows (I finished the game this way) but I just wanted to report it for other players ease of use.
    Best regards

  25. Good news :)

  26. Hi,

    really interested on playing this game but i’m hoping you really go forward with an iOS version.

    The game has the feel that it will do amazingly well on mobile and for a guy that has to travel a lot on my free time it would be the perfect way to play it

  27. Jonathan,

    Thank you for all the hard work and toil in making this game. I’ve followed news on The Witness since the beginning and am so happy to see that it is successful.

    My wife and I started playing last night and I can’t wait to get out of work tonight so we can jump back in! Good luck porting to the other platforms.

    : )

  28. Thank you for making The Witness.

    I have followed this site for the past year (checking in every other month), waiting for the release date.

    I am trying very hard to resit watching anything that may spoil the game while I play through but at the same time, I am very happy to see that others are also enjoying your game.

    Congratulations.

  29. Playing the game on PS4, really great, well done. A game my wife enjoys as much as me and, almost singlehandedly, justifies my passion for games to her and, hopefully, means she won’t complain when I start talking about buying next gen consoles in a couple of year’s.

    Some of the leaps I’ve had to make to complete a puzzle have made me feel smarter than I have a right to but that’s the fun of the game.

    Thank you to the whole team. Looking forward to whatever you do next. Now back to the game!

  30. Many thanks for the incredible game – definitely the most engrossing gaming experience I’ve had in a while.

    I would like to +1 my support for an OSX release – I went through the effort of setting up a Bootcamp partition so that I could play this game on release, but I have many friends that I’ve recommended the game to that only have a Mac and aren’t willing to go through the effort of setting up Bootcamp to play this one game. It’s great that it’s appealing to everyone I’ve shown who doesn’t usually play video games, but it’d be better if they could actually play it for themselves!

    Also, just out of curiosity, can you release figures for preorders? I’m curious how many people took you up on your offer of “absolutely nothing” extra for buying the game early.

    • Preorders were very small compared to sales of the game once it was released … up until the day before release, when reviews came out, then we got a big healthy day of sales. But these are probably mostly people who would have bought the game the next day anyway.

      None of this is a surprise, even Valve tells developers not to expect much in the way of preorders; I just did it mainly as an experiment (and because a lot of people were asking for it).

  31. Hi! I’d really be happy to see this on OS X or iOS (iPad) — I don’t have either a PS4 or a Windows computer (would it run under WINE on Mac OS X?), and would love to play the game.

  32. As one of the people who played Braid on Xbox back in the day I have been eagerly anticipating your next game for a long time now, and The Witness does not disappoint. It is a wonderful game that I have been encouraging all my friends to get as well.

    The aha sensations i got from this game has been by far the most rewarding I have ever experienced. From other puzzle games to literature or really anything come to think of it this game beats it by far. Those sudden bursts of understanding and feeling of intellectual competence are precious, since they really do require a very thoughtful approach to game design which few games manages to do without being too obscure or too patronizing in it’s way to guide a player. The fact that this game manages to evoke those kinds of responses without any cheesy “you win!” fanfare says it all. That subtle rumbling click that informs you that you unlocked another part of the bigger puzzle is more rewarding than any slot machine jackpot spectacle would be.

    My only real complaint is the puzzles inside the mountain after all the lasers are activated. These literally gave me a headache, and yes i do know the proper use of the word literally. I also imagine they could cause problems for people with epilepsy. It feels like a shame when the other puzzles around the island all use so finely crafted and clever mechanics. Comparatively the mechanics in this area; using disorienting movement and flashing lights, feels cheap and breaks with the otherwise serene nature of the game.

    But that really is a very minor complaint in the big picture. You have created a masterpiece, and I for one thank you for enriching my life with it.

    I am already looking forward to the next one. Take as long as you need to make it great as well

  33. Congratulations Jon and Thekla. The game was wonderful and the polish really showed through in every corner of the island. I rushed through the game in two wonderful, spoiler free (occasionally frustrating) days and finished the other 4 lasers the day after.

    Sadly I have been stuck on the challenge ever since and I fear my old fingers are simply not up to the *ahem* challenge. I am just not good enough with a controller to run around that fast and I may have to admit defeat.

    It has been interesting to look back now at all of the old island snapshots and early reveals as to what elements were important right from the get-go like the windmill and mountain and to see how things developed over the years.

    Congratulations again. The success is well deserved.

  34. Never have I been more regretful of owning a mac…I’ve been watching the development for many years and really looking forward to it. Don’t take too long Jonathan :-)

    • It’s difficult for us Mac owners, but don’t forget all the other advantages we get! In my opinion, they outweigh even the massive disadvantage of not having this game available. I’ve had to wait for other games to play catch-up in the past, although this is the first I’ve seriously considered buying an iPad for.

  35. This game makes me wish I had a partner to play it alongside. :( It seems like a perfect game for playing as a team.

  36. That’s great and all Jon, but when are you gonna make a first-person shooter

  37. I know Jon is probably too busy to answer this, but here’s hoping that someone reading this comment might have some first hand insight.

    Did anyone here ever play The Witness any of the times it was available at game shows, press previews, etc.? Now that I’ve seen most the game, I can imagine why Blow didn’t make a free demo for the Witness, but I really wonder what part(s) of the game were made available for those early looks at the game from years ago. No doubt the game has changed somewhat since then, but now that it’s finally released, I’m really interested in finding out what it is people got to see of the game back in the day.

    Was it playing from the start and seeing what they could stumble into after they made it out of the starting area? Was the demo set up at the beginning of a more linear series of puzzles (like the Tetris piece swamp or the mirrored line area)? I can see how it would be very difficult for someone to see what The Witness is “about” by just being sat in front of a demo and only playing the game for half an hour, but a lot of people came away with very positive impressions so I’m really curious what it was they were able to play through.

  38. As a fellow indie app developer, your work has been an inspiration to me. I think the reaction to The Witness shows that if you create a truly great product, people will recognize and reward that. Your success encourages me to continue the fight in my own area (language education).

    I’m about 10 hours into the game now and I’m loving it. I’m proud to have supported such a thoughtfully made game. Thank you again and best wishes on your continued success!

  39. I had such high expectations of this game. I was hoping for a masterpiece. And you guys did it! For a game to be this sophisticated and smart and beautiful, well, its amazing really. It has it all. Even Tarkovsky is in this game for Einsteins sake!

    Thank you.

  40. I’d play it as an apk. It seems like a great idea, as substituting the mouse for touch seems to fit the gameplay and idea of the game more clearly. Size is not too much of a problem, as GTA is now downloadable on Android.

    Great game, best of luck with your future projects.

  41. Really thank you for this game. Thanks a lot.

  42. I’ve been refreshing steamspy witness page every day since the release, it’s nice to know that in the end you’ll be able to make another game after all!

    Just not another 7 years please

  43. First of all thanks for sharing that because it restores some faith in our gaming society within myself and my colleagues. Allow me to explain briefly:

    We really really wanted it to be a financial success just for you people to keep creating. We all have that friend who gets single player games through… well… backdoors for which they have a “free pass”. With this game, we’ve managed to show people that this endeavors have to be fully supported. I’m glad I know people who have played it for 2 hours, told me “Alecs, you’re right man”, and went and bought the game. And I’m really happy to be part of your success.

    All the best from Catalonia, and thank you for a great game.

  44. The main website still says under “What’s Included?” “Pre-order The Witness and get it for Windows, DRM-free or on Steam!

    It will be released on the PC and the PlayStation 4 on January 26, 2016.”

    Noticed this when i wanted to order my second copy, now DRM-free in addition to Steam :)

  45. > Under serious consideration are: iOS, Android, Xbox One, OS X

    Linux is missing! It must be a typo though :-)

  46. OS X please!! Or Xbox One. please give me a way to play this game before the secrets are spoiled for me.

  47. Thanks for making the game a reasonable price in Canada! With the exchange rate where its $43 Can is a great price.

  48. I am really impressed by this game and the matrix reasoning within it. I actually work as a psychologist and some of these puzzles are certainly more difficult than the ones we have in very serious IQ tests (eg, the WAIS IV). I wish more people were approaching game design with this level of thought and seriousness because many of us have grown up and evolved, and gaming hasn’t really paralleled this trajectory. Glad to have paid full price for the witness. Hope it makes more than enough for you to design whatever you want to design. You guys more than deserve all of the critical acclaim and money that you get from this. I think people will be talking about this game in years to come.

  49. Jon, while VR is likely a fad just as 3D before it, I really hope you make something for the medium that will blow our minds as your 3rd opus. I hope it involves scale. Show me the view of the atom and show me the view of the universe, that is all…

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