Claustrophobic indie horror game SOMA has surpassed total sales of 250,000 units since its release in September, developer Frictional Games has announced. While that may sound like a healthy number – even great, as far as the average indie game is concerned – Frictional says that despite the number being “a good result,” they’re “by no means earth shattering.”
Citing Campo Santo’s own indie game Firewatch in comparison – which reached 500,000 sales less than two months after release – Frictional believes the less-than-ideal sales numbers for SOMA are due to its mixture of sci-fi and horror themes.
What this means is that the game might feel a bit too sci-fi for someone looking for a pure horror experience and vice-versa. While we think the mix works very well for the game, it seems quite possible that this has put off potential buyers.
Not only has this probably led to lost sales, it’s also most likely the reason why SOMA cannibalized the Amnesia sales. The moment that SOMA came out, sales of Amnesia: The Dark Descent went down too, and has stayed down ever since. We saw the same happening when we released Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs, but since SOMA is in many ways quite different from Amnesia, we thought it wouldn’t happen this time. But it did, and the reason seems to be that people lump both titles under a ‘Current Horror From Frictional Games’ label.
Going forward, Frictional believes they can avoid encountering the same problem with future games by diversifying the types of titles they make.
If we make another sci-fi game, we’ll probably tone down the horror elements and make the sci-fi narrative more prominent. The reverse would be true if we made a new horror game. The idea is that this’ll not only let us reach a new and wider audience, but also minimize the risk that people will mix up our games, and instead they’ll see them as separate entities.
With SOMA it feels we’ve made it clear that Frictional Games is not just about pure horror, and we want to take advantage of that and diversify the experiences we craft.
One thing’s for sure, SOMA‘s disappointing commercial performance certainly isn’t down to the quality of the game itself, as it was almost universally praised as being a tense, atmospheric survival horror worthy of your time. We thought the same, too, and you check out our review right here.