May 28, 2014 10:30 AM | Staff
You should never underestimate the power of a great video game trailer. The Czech Republic team behind fascinating otherworldly crafting game Factorio know this all too well, given how a single well-produced video changed their fortunes so dramatically.
Michal Kovarik first started thinking about Factorio at the start of 2012, when he found himself a bit sick of the programming job he'd landed. His core concept centred around wanting to take a more modern crafting game like Minecraft, and give it the feel of a classic "good old game."
When Kovarik decided to make his idea a reality, Tomas Kozelek joined him as a programmer, and the pair found Spanish animator Albert Bertolin Soler through an online advert. Now the team was ready to begin.
"Before we even started think about making a computer game, we were searching for games like Factorio," notes Kozelek. "Games where you can build factory designs with transport belts etc. But we didn't find anything serious."
"That was the moment we realised there is a huge gap in the gaming world and we could try to fill it," he adds. "So we knew we were doing something different from the start, we just didn't know if other people would enjoy it as well."
It turns out that people do indeed enjoy it, or at the very least, love the concept. The team ran a successful IndieGoGo campaign last year (which IndieGames covered), and at the time of writing, the game is sitting on 28,756 copies sold at at least 10 euros each.
But that doesn't tell the whole story -- see, most of those copies were actually sold in the last couple of months, and just the last weekend alone saw over 2,000 copies sold. After the February 2013 crowdfunding campaign, the Factorio team found themselves struggling for cash, even with a purchasable alpha version available.
"We did the Indiegogo campaign because we needed the money and the reality check," notes Kozelek. "Obviously, we have totally underestimated the work and budget for completing the game. So for almost a year after the Indiegogo we have struggled to get through with alpha sales barely covering living expenses."
2014 has seen alpha sales gradually increase, due to the game being closer to completion and more feature-filled. But it was the recent trailer that really did the job for the game, and has shifted sales figures into overdrive.
"We totally underestimated the work and budget for completing the game. For almost a year after the Indiegogo we struggled to get through with alpha sales barely covering living expenses."
During the last few days I've been putting this article together, alpha sales have jumped by around 1,500 copies. It's no Minecraft sales, sure, but for a small team that has been on the ropes for quite some time, it's incredible how a little trailer can help so much.
"The influx of new players has been quite hectic," says Kozelek. "We've spent a lot of time on support, but the situation has stabilized a bit recently. The recent sales gave us the stability to continue developing the game."
"We can now safely hire two more people (one for programming and one for graphics) and still keep a solid reserve," he adds. "This saved us from a lot of stress we have been dealing with before."
You can check out the generous demo for Factorio on the official website.
[Mike Rose wrote this article for sister site Gamasutra]