SOMA, the undersea existential horror game by Frictional Games, came out six months ago. To mark the anniversary, the team published a blog post talking in-depth about the game’s sales and community.
The game has sold 250,000 copies so far, but it isn’t profitable yet. Despite this, Frictional seems optimistic, comparing the game to sales of other similarly sized first person titles like Firewatch. The team thinks they’ll be profitable by the end of the year, and that the continued success of these small first person games makes them less worried about making another one like SOMA even if it wasn’t as successful as their previous venture, Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Interestingly, Frictional says that the sales of SOMA cannibalized those of Amnesia, something they attributed to the crossover in genre.
The team also mentions that they’d been caught off guard with how popular modding ended up being with Amnesia, and built SOMA with modders in mind only to find that modders didn’t take to this game the way they’d taken to the previous one.
The post goes on to attribute both of these, to some degree, to the hybrid science fiction and horror genre the game occupies, suggesting that each half of the genre may have pushed away those that were fans of one and not of the other. The next game Frictional makes, then, will more firmly occupy one genre or another, whether it’s science fiction, horror, or something else.
SOMA left a deep mark on me when it came out, despite a few flaws, and Amnesia still makes me thankful I wore the brown pants. I’m glad to see their self-funded games are doing well enough to keep the studio going, though, as many studios are finding that model unsustainable and too many are closing or having to resort to crowd-funded options.