That Dragon, Cancer is yet to make a profit two months after it launched on Steam according to its developer Ryan Green from Numinous Games.
The critically acclaimed game focuses on telling a narrative as Ryan’s son Joel is diagnosed and treated for a rare brain tumour.
While its received lots of attention prior to its launch, it has gone on to sell just 14,000 copies according to SteamSpy. Green believes that this is due to Let’s Play videos showing the entirety of the game on the likes of YouTube. For a relatively short and linear game, That Dragon, Cancer has little in the way of offering something different to different players other than their own emotional attachment to the story that the player might form.
Green took to blogging about his experience with Let’s Plays and That Dragon, Cancer in a post entitled On Let’s Plays and isn’t all about slamming those who create the videos but rather asking them to be considerate in what they upload.
there is another side of this that I’ve been afraid to talk about in public. And that is this: our studio has not yet seen a single dollar from sales. That Dragon, Cancer was created by a studio of eight, and for many of us it was a full-time effort that involved thousands of hours of work. This huge effort required taking on investment, and we decided to pay off all of our debt as soon as possible. But we underestimated how many people would be satisfied with only watching the game instead of playing it themselves.
When it comes to creating Let’s Play videos, Green’s requests are not impractical or excessive but rather allow his team to bring the game to more players and continue to develop new experiences in the future.
We are asking that you return that favor by creating Let’s Play videos that don’t just rebroadcast the entirety of our content with minimal commentary, but instead use portions of our content as a context to share your own stories and start conversations with your viewers. We would encourage you to link to our site and directly encourage viewers to support our work financially through buying the game, or donating a dollar or two to our studio if they believe that what we did has value. This small act will allow us to continue to work.
Of course, not everyone who watches a Let’s Play video would purchase a copy of That Dragon, Cancer if the content didn’t exist but some might have if they didn’t watch the entirety online. This might not affect the large publishers but for small Indie teams like Numinous Games, every sale and dollar made matters.