Forums - Sales Discussion - Heavenly Sword sold about 1.5m but devs didn't break even

Kasz216 said:
Viper1 said:
Letsdance, his production roles would be paid at a rate comparable to the industry standard for those roles. That's about $90k per year. So if he was part of the team full time for 3 years, that's only $270k. His voice acting portion would take up far less time yet pay perhaps a little more total.

All in all, I'm quite certain he wasn't paid more than $1 million for his entire contribution to the game. And I'd wager it was probably closer to $750k.

Thank you.  I asked someone else in the industry for their opinion, but your that guy who talks to industry people right?  And did those roundtable discussions back when those happened?

You're welcome.  I plan to ask Tameem about it all this so hopefully we'll have less speculation and more truth to work with real soon.



The rEVOLution is not being televised

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Stefan.De.Machtige said:
That sounds like bad management.

No kidding. The game was that short and they still spent so much money on it that 1.5 million in sales in a favorable first party contract didn't even allow them to break even? I hope Ninja Theory has their shit together this time around or it might end up being their last dance.



slowmo said:
People always say the game was 4 hours long but I must have got at least 6-7 hours as an absolute minimum on my playthrough. Did everyone else play on the easiest difficulty and not die at all?

Its good in some respects that they didn't make money that more people will get to play their games. I actually really enjoyed Heavenly Sword and considered it very underrated.

Anyone who says the game is four hour long never played it to completion - or more likely never even played it at all. And those who say it's five hours long are cut from the same cloth or exagerating because it gives them something to rag on.

At minimum, the game is six hours long and if you get stuck on any parts or end up dieing a lot, you'll looking at at least seven hours.



jarrod said:
letsdance said:
jarrod said:
leo-j said:
that's really sad..

the game is 5 hours, and the budget was higher than MGS4s potentially.

Very sad

Eh, more than twice as many people worked on MGS4, and it was in development twice as long... pretty sure it's budget likely dwarfed Heavenly Sword's.


I doubt it. I think Kojima went the more traditional way in developing the MGS4. Ninjatheory was very ambitious in their developing with facial mocap and voicing famous people.

Uh, you know MGS4 used far, far more extensive mocap (including facial capture) than HS, right?  Just check the credits, MGS4's mocap credits alone rival the entire R&D teams for many other games.  MGS4 also had a huge voice cast, extensive CG and the entire network infrastructure R&D for MGO in there.  If you credit check, MGS4 credits almost 400 people!  

And that's just production, we're not even talking about promotional budgets...

Extensive CG? Don't you know that all four of the Metal Gear Solid games eschew traditional CG entirely? Their cinematics are all done in engine and with in-game assets.

iLLmaticV3 said:
Wow...they didn't break even, but Sony probably did? What kind of exclusivity deal was that O.o

Sony fronted the money for development so as publisher, they get paid first. It always works that way with publishing deals.

Sorry for the threepeat in posts but I'm addressing very different points in each.



Deviation59 said:
jarrod said:
letsdance said:
jarrod said:
leo-j said:
that's really sad..

the game is 5 hours, and the budget was higher than MGS4s potentially.

Very sad

Eh, more than twice as many people worked on MGS4, and it was in development twice as long... pretty sure it's budget likely dwarfed Heavenly Sword's.


I doubt it. I think Kojima went the more traditional way in developing the MGS4. Ninjatheory was very ambitious in their developing with facial mocap and voicing famous people.

Uh, you know MGS4 used far, far more extensive mocap (including facial capture) than HS, right?  Just check the credits, MGS4's mocap credits alone rival the entire R&D teams for many other games.  MGS4 also had a huge voice cast, extensive CG and the entire network infrastructure R&D for MGO in there.  If you credit check, MGS4 credits almost 400 people!  

And that's just production, we're not even talking about promotional budgets...

Extensive CG? Don't you know that all four of the Metal Gear Solid games eschew traditional CG entirely? Their cinematics are all done in engine and with in-game assets.

Sorry, I just meant cinemas, I know they're done with gameplay assets.  I said CG because that's how the actual credits credit the director, their term, not mine.



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I Don't Know Why, but i loved Heavenly Sword, GREAT game! im Surprised a lot of People did Not Like it.  to bad they did not make some profit on it.



Atto Suggests...:

Book - Malazan Book of the Fallen series 

Game - Metro Last Light

TV - Deadwood

Music - Forest Swords 

I hope they didn't expect to sell more then 1.5m copies in 07 being exclusive to Ps3. If you need more then 1.5m copies to break even on a console that had a userbase of less then 10m then thats sad. They shouldn't have had such high budget for the game. It was a fun game but I didn't like the combat system or the horrible sixaxis controls. I returned it after It made me play as Kai.



letsdance said:
Kasz216 said:
letsdance said:
Kasz216 said:
I mean think about it. Why would they bother paying him to motion cap the character if it was going to cost them tons of money. Nobody knows a thing about his face.

They could of literally got anybody to do it. Your taking all of these jobs that are low paying and would be for him, and trying to turn it into millions. It just doesn't work like that I don't know what else to say.


Because he was the director... what part of this do you not understand? It's not like they called him in just for the motion capture. The guy spent months (Maybe a couple years) of his time on this project. He had major roles in its creation. The budget was extremly high. You don't think the guy got paid a good deal of money? I bet the programers made a few million each too.

You... seriously think... the programmers made a few million each.

I think we can properly end this conversation now.  Because I realize it's not so much an arguement of amount, but an argument of scale.

I'm just going to take a step back, and float these ideas out to someone who works in the videogame industry.


Well, probablly not since they didn't get a bonus from the game since they didn't make a profit but each developer probablly made around 500k for the 4 years they worked on it.



Viper1 said:
Mr Puggsly said:
Viper1 said:
Mr Puggsly said:
Gojimaster said:
i bet these kind of stories are very common on hd systems, and we don't hear about half of them-- that is crazy a game can sell 1.5 mill and make a profit

I think these stories are common on the Wii as well. That would explain why developers often ignore the Wii for quality releases.

To my knowledge only 1 developer has lost money on Wii to the point it required them to shut down.  There are several such cases on the HD side of things.

Average break even point for a Wii title is ~300k units.  Average break even point for an HD title is over 1 million units. 

Don't forget that publishers typically fund the development from the start.  A lot of these studios that went under started the projects with their own money and then pitched them to publishers and failed to generate enough revenue to recoup their initial development costs.  Ninja Theory is alsow one of those developers who began the project prior to the publisher (Sony) getting involved.

That's because HD consoles tend to games of a higher caliber. The typical HD game is much higher quality than the typical Wii game.

Its not hard to believe the average Wii game only need to sell 300K, because the average Wii game is low budget or shovelware. I'm sure games like Dead Space Extraction, CoD, Dead Rising, No More Heroes, Conduit, and Resident Evil need to sell more than 300K.

Dead Rising, No More Heroes, the CoD's, The Conduit and the RE games made profit according to their publishers.   I think DS: Extraction is the only one that's still working toward it.

Development time, staff volume and other factors are what determine production costs.  Even the bigger Wii titles do not requie the same number of programmers, artists, etc...or the same volume of development time as the average HD title does.

I didn't say they bombed. I'm just saying they probably needed to sell more than the typical Wii game. But frankly, they are still low quality and budget titles compared to the typical HD game.

You say the bigger Wii titles don't require the same number of staff (i.e. money). But where are the Wii games that are at par with Gears of War, Uncharted, Mass Effect, Oblivion, Fallout 3, Halo, Killzone, Assassin's Creed, etc. Graphics aside, not as much effort is put into 3rd party Wii games. Look at the last gen, PS2 and Xbox 3rd party games had a lot more effort put into them as well so its not just a matter of graphics.



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