When a AAA game hits it big, fans can typically rest assured there will be sequels on the way. That's not the case at all in the world of indie games, but Defiant founder and creative director Morgan Jaffit argued in a blog post today that indie developers shouldn't be quite so shy about taking a second kick at the can.
It's been a little less than six months since Defiant released Hand of Fate 2, the sequel to its deckbuilding Rogue-like action game, and Jaffit used his post to compare sales of the original and the sequel. Looking at SteamSpy figures gives a distorted view of the issue, he said, with the original game racking up 750,000 sales compared to the sequel's 100,000.
"A quick dig into the actual numbers quickly puts the lie to common mantra 'Indie Sequels always do worse,'" Jaffit said, "but it's easy to see how people get there when you compare three years of sales (at a wide range of discounts and bundles) to the first six months of a new game at full price."
Comparing just the revenues each game brought in during its first half-year on sale, Jaffit noted that the $30 Hand of Fate 2 outperformed the $25 original. What's more, the sequel's release renewed interest in the original game as well. In total, the six months since Hand of Fate 2 launched have seen 140% of the revenue that Hand of Fate managed in the comparable time frame, making it the best stretch in Defiant's history as far as revenue goes.
Jaffit cautioned that doesn't mean sequels are always good ideas. A sequel needs to make up in polish what it lacks in originality, he said, visibly building on the original and addressing the common criticisms it faced while adding new features and creating its own identity.
"A well tended franchise can give an indie studio stability over the course of many years, and the opportunity to do more than they would have otherwise," Jaffit said. "If you've got a successful title, it makes sense to at least consider a sequel as your next step."