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GunMedia_Ben

Friday the 13th: The Game hits 1.8M units sold in under two months

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Hey all,  Wes talked with GamesIndustry here about the game. A bit about what we've been going through. Thought you guys would like the read with a heads up on what's going on to a degree. 

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2017-08-01-friday-the-13th-stumbles-to-1-8m-sold

Quote

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? That's probably pretty apt for Gun Media and developer Illfonic, who've been through the ringer on horror title Friday the 13th (F13), which started its life as an homage to the genre, called Summer Camp.

Even with the F13 IP rights, many doubted that the project could succeed. To make matters worse, the small team's inexperience led to some pretty horrid technical woes that could have sunken the ship outright. And yet it didn't. Now Gun has revealed to GamesIndustry.biz that within two months the game has managed to sell over 1.8 million units.

Gun Media boss and Friday the 13th co-creator Wes Keltner tells me, "This entire project has been a huge learning experience for both Gun and Illfonic. We will be the first to admit that we weren't ready for the huge influx of players that hit us day one.

"We looked at our player numbers from the beta, along with pre-orders and then added a 30% cushion. That's how we set up our servers and database for launch. We were soooo wrong. 100,000 players hit us in the first 20 minutes, and our servers melted. Our first weekend was chaos. The entire team slept at their desks trying to keep up with demand. It's an experience I'll never forget. With our small budget, we couldn't afford a large scale QA effort. We did a PC beta, and gleaned a lot of great data from that. But again, we weren't ready for the tidal wave of players."

Keltner won't share the exact budget, but he notes, "The total we spent creating this game, would only cover half the animation budget for AAA games. But we made the most with what we had. As for being profitable, we were in the black quickly. However, we have reinvested that profit directly back into F13 in the form of new content (maps, characters, etc) and our ongoing server costs."

It's a good thing that profits started coming in, as Gun Media had to reinvest in QA to address the server problems, and that's an investment that continues to this day as the problems are still not completely ironed out.

He continues, "As the player count continued to rise, a memory leak became apparent, which was difficult to find until the build went out into the wild and hundreds of thousands of players began playing. This showed up primarily on the Xbox SKU and we shifted our efforts to finding where this leak was occurring. We released a patch recently that helps, but it's still not a 100% fix. We've brought on two other teams to help us locate the source, and our partners at Microsoft and Epic (UE4) are helping us day and night to completely fix this issue.

"Our biggest challenge is team size and experience. This is our first time at 'the big table' and we have stumbled throughout this process. What we lack in experience we make up for with passion and heart. However, in some cases this weakness is also a strength. We are nimble and we communicate internally very effectively. I'm aware there are huge bonuses to having 300+ people working on a title, but there's something about having a team of 30 that makes this experience intimate. There was nothing about making this game that felt like an assembly line. Which again, I think was what allowed us to be authentic and listen to fans."

Interestingly, with a Metacritic score of 61 and some reviews as low as 40, the press wasn't especially kind to F13, and yet the property clearly resonated with fans. Keltner believes that a big part of it was, again, on the technical side, but more to the point, he sees the media landscape changing dramatically to favor the influencers over traditional media. That's clearly evident from what the big publishers have been doing at E3 and just in their day-to-day outreach with the community.

"I think it's less about a mismatch and more about a complete upheaval of how consumers research and ultimately decide on purchasing a game. Metacritic scores used to be the lifeblood of games. For today's consumer, it's not as relevant," Keltner says.

"I think there are two reasons for this; Early Access and Content Creators (YouTubers and streamers). In my opinion, these are the two biggest disruptions in our industry, with Twitch probably being the biggest game changer. Five years ago publishers would be frantically hiring mock reviewers to try to get a good estimate of what their Metacritic score would be. Today, they have meetings where they ask the entire team: 'Does our game stream well?'"

He adds, "As for reviews and feedback, many of the low scores and negative impressions were based on performance and server issues, and not gameplay. At the end of the day it's difficult to rate a game highly if it isn't functioning as intended. So from a design perspective, it is great to know we succeeded. Looking at every single one of those reviews; it becomes obvious that people like the game, they enjoy playing. We can hold our head up high knowing that we created a fun game. The challenge now becomes a technical one. Once the technical issues get ironed out, we feel like consumers will get to experience our full vision. There's also a rise in 'Community Multiplayer Games' which only a handful of games are focusing on right now and they are proving to be a success and a shift in the industry."

Another possible boost for F13 and Gun Media came from the '80s nostalgia wave in entertainment currently. It's one of the reasons a show like Stranger Things on Netflix has done so well. Even people who aren't old enough to remember the '80s seem to be enjoying the themes and the horror genre from the time, which was led by F13 along with A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween.

"There does seem to be a love-affair occurring around '80s themed entertainment," Keltner agrees. "Nostalgia plays a role, but I feel that authenticity is the bigger factor. That goes for F13 and Stranger Things in my opinion. I think today's consumer is bombarded with products and entertainment that, while might be enjoyable, feel fabricated and formulaic. When something comes along that is genuine, it's refreshing and rare. When you create something that has both nostalgia and authenticity at the core, it garners a deeper appreciation from your audience. And I do feel it is one of the reasons the game has been successful. Of course, it doesn't hurt when you have a globally recognized IP attached.

"[And] there does seem to be a large portion of younger players that are experiencing the IP for the first time via our game. They all know 'Friday the 13th' as well as Jason. His hockey mask is as recognizable as Mickey Mouse. However, we do get a lot of messages from players that are either watching the films for the first time, or are going back to watch them again. It's rewarding when they mention how well we nailed the look and feel of those films, especially the first two to three films in the series. What I found most interesting was hearing from hardcore fans of the films, going back to watch them again after playing our game. They watch and enjoy the films in a totally new way thanks to the game. That warms the heart."

Indeed, nothing quite warms the heart like a machete to a person's face. Jokes aside, Gun's newfound success with F13 wouldn't have been possible if the company didn't take a proactive approach early on. Many indie teams neglect their marketing push until it's too late.

"Some teams think it's a 'Field of Dreams' type of scenario; you build it, they will come. I've met several small teams that have this impression and few of them seem to rise above the noise," Keltner says. "With F13 we focused on a healthy mixture of traditional press and content creators/streamers. Of course, having the F13 IP is a huge advantage. There's an innate ability for that license to open doors. One mistake that teams make is that don't start thinking about marketing/PR until closer to launch. We were meeting with traditional press outlets nearly two years before launch.

"Even before we had the F13 license, and we were 'Summer Camp', we were reaching out to the press. Going to conventions is also a great way to get some face time with your favorite journalist. But the biggest mistake is waiting too late to start the PR engine. The same amount of energy and thought that you put into gameplay mechanics, features and content, should go into your PR and marketing. Sure there are stories out there of two or three people making a game, with very little talk in the press, and they hit big. But why would you put so much of your time and energy into a project, and then bet it all that lightning will strike?"

Now that the money is coming in, Gun wants to make sure its fans know that it's putting resources back into F13, not only to continue to eliminating technical issues but to keep the content fresh.

"Our number one priority right now is stability and squashing bugs," Keltner says. "That's what all of our engineers are focusing on. We've also nearly doubled our team size to help with this issue. But our content/art teams are free to work on new content, and that's what we've been doing. Players can expect new maps, characters, Easter eggs and other great updates in the near future. I think fans are really going to enjoy what we have planned, as some of this content comes directly from player feedback/requests, while some others are surprises we've had up our sleeves for several months now."

It's been a long road for Gun, and Keltner and his team have learned a lot from the experience, but perhaps the biggest lesson for other small teams out there is to just believe in yourself. If you're passionate about your project and you have a great vision for your game, don't let the industry get you down.

"If you get a chance to pitch your game to publishers, don't take their comments to heart," Keltner advises.

"Don't give up or give in to their suggestions. We met with publishers at several trade shows to pitch F13 in an effort to raise funds for the game. Here's what they said: We don't think there's a market for this type of game. Games based on film properties don't sell well. Players aren't looking for an asymmetrical multiplayer focused game. The gameplay might be too simplified, consumers want more complexity. Have you considered toning down the gore for a more family-friendly experience?"

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Wow just created topic on this and they deleted it. lol

Again I'll say that despite bugs, issues, and needing more content and such, a congrats to the entire team!! Can't wait to see that number climb as fixes, new content, physical release and more come to us in the future! Love the game!

......and I'd like my Uber Jason now! :)

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3 minutes ago, cruehitman said:

Wow just created topic on this and they deleted it. lol

It's okay they want the credit. They deserve it. I'm in the hospital & cannot stop thinking about playing Friday da 13th. I went to the ER on Monday but not before I played 2 full matches. With a temp of 104.

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Honest and candid interview, not to mention an interesting read.

Excitement levels for new content have just risen! :) Thanks for posting this @GunMedia_Ben

And yep, to echo the above, big congratulations on selling 1.8 million units!

Alkavian likes this

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18 minutes ago, GunMedia_Ben said:

Hey all,  Wes talked with GamesIndustry here about the game. A bit about what we've been going through. Thought you guys would like the read with a heads up on what's going on to a degree. 

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2017-08-01-friday-the-13th-stumbles-to-1-8m-sold

Congrats. Does that number include kickerstarter donations? Just curious. Also I am hoping $1.8 million in sales = dedicated servers+2 new maps+2 new counselors+1 new Jason. Just hoping though. I will enjoy the game regardless. 

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8 minutes ago, Tattooey said:

It's okay they want the credit. They deserve it. I'm in the hospital & cannot stop thinking about playing Friday da 13th. I went to the ER on Monday but not before I played 2 full matches. With a temp of 104.

Hey man, I hope you're ok!

17 minutes ago, GunMedia_Ben said:

Hey all,  Wes talked with GamesIndustry here about the game. A bit about what we've been going through. Thought you guys would like the read with a heads up on what's going on to a degree. 

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2017-08-01-friday-the-13th-stumbles-to-1-8m-sold

Congratulations,  @GunMedia_BenI hope you guys are proud of your achievement! The game is beautiful. I can't wait to see what you guys have been working on!

Tattooey and Survival like this

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3 minutes ago, Splatterhouse said:

Honest and candid interview, not to mention an interesting read.

Excitement levels for new content have just risen! :) Thanks for posting this @GunMedia_Ben

Agreed. This update and interview is much appreciated @GunMedia_Ben.

These are the types of updates we miss :D I'm glad to see them again.

b_84, Alkavian and Splatterhouse like this

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Wow! Sounds like it has been a big success. Even with all the teething trouble. I'm curious how those sales are divided between the three  platforms

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5 minutes ago, NthnButAGoodTime said:

Hey man, I hope you're ok!

Congratulations,  @GunMedia_BenI hope you guys are proud of your achievement! The game is beautiful. I can't wait to see what you guys have been working on!

Ya I'm fine thank you. It's just so boring. Nothing to do. No Xbox. Only my phone this forums & 123movies.is

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Then they made $72 Million excluding kickstarter and any unknown investors, prior to any distribution costs.

Can we have servers for consoles now?

 

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18 minutes ago, Tattooey said:

It's okay they want the credit. They deserve it. I'm in the hospital & cannot stop thinking about playing Friday da 13th. I went to the ER on Monday but not before I played 2 full matches. With a temp of 104.

Get well soon Tattooey! 

Tattooey likes this

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Just now, Splatterhouse said:

Get well soon Tattooey! 

Thank you brother. I'm outta here tomorrow as soon as they yank this catheter out lol. I'm terrified of it but small sacrifice for better health.

Splatterhouse likes this

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6 hours ago, Tattooey said:

Thank you brother. I'm outta here tomorrow as soon as they yank this catheter out lol. I'm terrified of it but small sacrifice for better health.

Feel better, Dude!

Catheter rip, huh? Sounds like a good environmental kill for a hospital level, eh @GunMedia_Ben?

Alkavian, TheReaper666 and Tattooey like this

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1 minute ago, NthnButAGoodTime said:

Feel better, Dude! Catheter rip, huh? Sounds like a good environmental kill for a hospital level, eh @GunMedia_Ben?

Please, no.

5 minutes ago, Tattooey said:

Thank you brother. I'm outta here tomorrow as soon as they yank this catheter out lol. I'm terrified of it but small sacrifice for better health.

And yeah, get well soon. Hopefully you'll be back at camp soon enough.

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2 minutes ago, NthnButAGoodTime said:

Feel better, Dude! Catheter rip, huh? Sounds like a good environmental kill for a hospital level, eh @GunMedia_Ben?

LMAO... now THAT is clever thinking! Get well Tattoo!

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13 minutes ago, NScarlato said:

Then they made $72 Million excluding kickstarter and any unknown investors, prior to any distribution costs.

Can we have servers for consoles now?

From what I understand, dedicated servers are on their way.

A large percentage of that figure will probably go to Cunningham as he gifted them the license for free. Not to mention other expenditures. 

I've been critical of them when I feel criticism is valid, and I guess I do have a colourful way of putting it at times. 😂 

But I'm really happy for them. They've made mistakes along the way (who doesn't?). But as a long time backer and forum monkey...you can't doubt the blood, sweat and tears that has gone into the game. I'm really happy that their effort has been rewarded and they should be proud of their success, as I'm sure they are. 

In any facet of life...you work hard enough, you generally always get the result you want...it's always nice to see.

Survival and NthnButAGoodTime like this

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What a shitty time to be out of likes.

I love this interview. It just proves what I've always known about this team. They're passionate about what they do. Treading new waters can be tough. But they've done a great job in rolling with the punches.

Two months. This game is still an infant. Give them time and more importantly, support, and this game will reach its potential.

 

Tattooey likes this

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That's why support will create a better recipe for success then criticism.

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And to think... the idiots at Paramount yanked the plug on the newest Friday the 13th movie because people wouldn't go to see it. I hate Paramount!

TheReaper666 likes this

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Just now, cruehitman said:

And to think... the idiots at Paramount yanked the plug on the newest Friday the 13th movie because people wouldn't go to see it. I hate Paramount!

To be fair, have you read the script or any of the premise of the movie they pulled? It is god-awful.

Quinn FTW and DialM like this

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Give credit where credit is due.

Still a lot of work ahead.

If they keep at it. The game could have a long life span.

I do worry about Cunningham though. Opinions on him are mixed at best. I believe he's happy the franchise made him a lot of money, helped his family, etc but I've never felt he's truly embraced Jason. He's embraced Friday the 13th as Victor Miller embraced Mrs. Voorhees. Together, I don't believe either one of them particularly care about Jason. Part 9 in particular sort of adds evidence to that. Yeah it was fresh, but fresh in the wrong way.

Then you have Victor Miller, etc and the rights switching studios eventually. I wonder if any of that will have any effect on the future of the game?

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Aren't they all!!! lol... I just want Jason back on the big screen! Honestly haven't read the script. 

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