Derrick The Deathfin’s actually a decent game – as our review will attest – but it’s sold under 5,000 copies, making a considerable loss for the indie developer. Speaking to Kotaku AU, developer Gordon Midwood (who I spoke to a couple of times when putting together the first preview) admitted that sales of the quirkly Ecco/Sonic crossover really didn’t reach anywhere near the levels he was hoping for, despite a brief PlayStation Plus price promotion.
He also says that he went £40,000 in debt to fund the game, which included personal loans and credit cards. “It’s entirely possible, or indeed by the looks of things at the moment 100 per cent probable, that sales will never amount to enough to pay back even a quarter of my personal debts,” he said on his blog.
The small dev team – Midwood and one other – only had funding for 11 months, the original targeted timescale. That grew to 24 months, and thus additional funding was needed. And even once the game was done, it’s hardly bringing in enough to buy a Ferrari - Midwood states that he only gets around £1 per sale of the game. “Due to sponsor requirements, revenue shares between those involved, platform costs and so on for each copy of Derrick sold I personally receive just under £1.”
The game didn’t have much promotion pre-launch, though, with very little coverage on any of the gaming sites, and the official Blog barely touched it. “Sony have been very supportive throughout the process of completing and promoting the game,” Midwood said. “They loved the concept and they have been to very easy to work with since then. The publishing and promoting is on our shoulders though, as we can’t afford to pay anybody professional, ha!”
Regardless, the game was pushed live on the same week as the likes of Machinarium, Naughty Bear, Worms Revolution, Retro City Rampage, Joe Danger The Movie and Warlords, at least in some territories. You’d need considerable promotional weight to float above such a crowded week as that, even with a Plus discount.
“I’m not allowed to say exact numbers I don’t think!” Midwood concludes. “It might well be quite a bit under 5k, which I don’t think I’m allowed to say either.”