But seeing your game hit number one, says lead designer Billy Thomson, is an incredibly powerful feeling
Over the past month or so we’ve been closely following as many gaming websites and forums as we could.
We’ve also been checking thousands of tweets and Facebook updates looking for any press preview write-ups and any early indications of the public response to the Crackdown 2 demo.
From what we could find the response was predominantly positive; most people were playing the game with their friends online and they seemed to be having a lot of fun. We were pleased with the general response; things were looking promising.
While we were pleased to hear that the demo had been going down well, we still had to wait on the final game going out to the press for their final reviews. This is one of the most nervous times of all for a game developer.
PREPARING FOR LAUNCH
We had spent the past month or so travelling around the world to all of the press events that had been set up, showing the game off to the world’s media in Europe, as well as America and Canada. During the demonstrations the press seemed to be having a great time with the game, so we were quietly confident that we would get decent review scores.
The thing is, you’ve spent so much time and effort pouring your heart and soul into the creation of the game that any negative feedback can feel like a hefty kick in the nuts. So, we were all nervously waiting to see if we would get more pats on the back than bruises to the nether regions.
As the reviews began pouring in we saw we were getting some really good write-ups. Most of the reviewers really enjoyed the game, but admittedly there are a few that didn’t take to it quite so well. It seems that we’ve created the gaming equivalent of Marmite with Crackdown 2.
The most anxious, nail-biting time of all for a game developer is when the game finally goes on sale and we get the ultimate reaction from the public – do they decide to spend their hard-earned cash on the game or do they ignore it and buy something else?
Strangely enough a game can get incredibly high review scores and still not sell as many as you would expect.
In the past few years there have been a few very good games that have been extremely well received by the gaming press but somehow failed to make their mark at retail. Whether this was due to a lack of sustained marketing or simply a lack of appetite for the particular genre remains to be seen.
READY FOR RETAIL
Finally, it was our turn to run the retail gauntlet. As I said, the demo has been out for a while and is doing amazing download numbers which is great, but at the end of the day it’s all about how the full game does.
We genuinely do make games for love of creating them – we’re honestly all games players at heart – but the cold hard truth is that we still need to make sure that the publisher covers its costs and hopefully makes some profit from the venture, otherwise they won’t want to continue working with us. And then we’re all out of a job...
Despite any negative comments that your game may get, they all sweep away for a short time when you first see your game on the shelves in the local game store. I was lucky enough to walk into both GAME and Gamestation in Dundee on the UK release day and see Crackdown 2 sitting in the number one slot, which was a truly fantastic sight.
Seeing your game at number one is an unbelievably powerful feeling, but I did quickly bring myself back down to earth by reminding myself that this was likely just the staff at the store putting the latest big game release up in the top slot.
At the time of writing this – which is admittedly still very early days – it seems that Crackdown 2 is doing quite well and is currently sitting at the top of the UK All Formats Top 40 Chart.
Hopefully it stays up there for a wee while. But even if it doesn’t manage to hold on to the top spot for as long as we would all like, we’ll still be proud of the game that we all made.