In Gamasutra's latest feature, an expansive postmortem
of Tale of Tales' acclaimed game The Path
, the creative duo of Michael Samyn and Auriea Harvey write about their failure to reach a wider audience.
Though Tale of Tales had hoped to lure in nontraditional gaming audiences with The Path
, which departs from mainstream games in many concrete ways, their hopes were not met.
As Samyn and Harvey write, "We have learned that designing purely for non-gamers is relatively futile, because the limited marketing means of an independent developer do not suffice to reach this audience."
The team puts down a lot of that failure to the fact that it is difficult to reach an audience not already actively engaged in seeking out games without a major marketing budget.
"We thought that designing a game with an original aesthetic appeal and theme and an interaction system that was very easy and forgiving would be enough," they write. "But without proper marketing, this just doesn't work. It's easy to market to gamers because they form a very well organized subculture with a blooming press and myriads of supportive blogs. But outside of the niche, the audience is fragmented, and in general fairly hostile towards video games."
The team worries that this will help create a situation that makes innovation untenable: "There's a contradiction in the fact that it takes independent developers to create projects that may appeal outside of the core audience and that it takes a corporate budget to market to this audience," they write. "We've always found it strange that the small companies are the ones taking the risks, while surely the big ones are a lot more resistant to failure."
Recognition of this paradox has caused Tale of Tales to flirt with the idea of making future titles which are geared more towards a core audience more comfortable with downloading games from services like Steam, where more than half of The Path
's sales came, as the team reveals in the postmortem. However, they write, "if we don't explore the vast terrain outside of games, who will?"
The full and highly detailed feature, which covers the development of The Path
from its initial creative inception to post-release numbers-crunching, is live today on Gamasutra