Though I’ve been spending every waking hour over the past four days playing Divinity: Original Sin, even a hopelessly addicted CRPG’er like me has noticed that Larian’s latest game has been at #1 on Steam the entire time since its release. This apparently took a lot of folks by surprise (including myself), and Swen “Lar” Vincke had something to say about this in an interview last night:
To work out how much money Larian has made from Divinity so far, it’s not as simple as taking the revenue from the game then taking out Valve’s standard 30 per cent cut.
For Larian, which as a Belgian studio works in euros, its rule of thumb is to take the dollars generated then half that figure it to arrive at a euro amount. So, if a game makes $100,000, the studio makes €50,000.
Divinity: Original Sin costs $39.99. If it’s sold 160,000 copies, that’s $6.39m in revenue. Half that and we get €3.19m (£2.5m), which means the project is well on its way to breaking even.
Vincke put Divinity: Original Sin’s success down to its Steam Early Access and Kickstarter communities.
“The feedback we received from them was worth its weight in gold,” he said. “It’s almost a co-development between us and them, because they pointed out things we were doing wrong, and encouraged us to expand on the areas we were doing right. As a result you get a group intelligence applied to a game. It’s always much better than a single person.”
This, coupled with strong word of mouth, is keeping Divinity at the top of Steam’s sales charts, ahead of the likes of DayZ and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
“It’s word of mouth that is driving Original Sin right now,” Vincke said. “We were late with our game, working on it until the last day, so we don’t even have reviews out there. We have exactly two ads we did with the last of our money. It was definitely not marketing doing it.”
Like Swen said, Divinity did not have a lot going for it, hype-wise. With no real marketing and the game relying solely on word of mouth (and a kickstarter), it is remarkable how well it’s selling. One look at the forums for the game on Steam will prove that, since they are absolutely blowing up and I have had entire threads of mine buried on the 3rd page in under a few minutes of being posted.
Divinity:OS is a turn-based CRPG firmly set in the roots of the genre and is often punishingly difficult and unforgiving, a trio of aspects that would have scared every single publisher away from the title had it been released the traditional way. To see this level of success with a game like this when major publishers have convinced those who love turn-based strategic CRPGs that such RPGs cannot make a profit is quite astounding.
We here at Nichegamer will be doing a review on this title shortly, and as the one assigned to that task, let me say now that it’s one of the few Kickstarters that (in my opinion) live up to their design document. Larian studios deserves all of the success they are getting.