That Dragon, Cancer suffers poor sales, suspects Let's Plays | PCGamesN

That Dragon, Cancer suffers poor sales, suspects Let's Plays

Best PC games 2016 That Dragon, Cancer

That Dragon, Cancer, the autobiographical story of a family's struggles with infant cancer, has yet to turn a profit according to developer Ryan Green.

You can also support indie developers like Green by checking out some of the best indie games on PC.

The game, which focuses on telling a heart-breaking narrative as Ryan's son Joel is diagnosed and treated for a rare brain tumour, went on sale more than two months ago.

Despite critical acclaim throughout its almost three year development cycle, it has only gone on to sell 14,000 copies according to SteamSpy, and Green believes this is due to YouTube content creators uploading playthroughs in full.

"We underestimated how many people would be satisfied with only watching the game instead of playing it themselves," he wrote in a blog post titled "On Let's Plays". "If you compare the millions of views of the entirety of our game on YouTube to our sales as estimated on SteamSpy, you can hopefully see the disparity. We have seen many people post our entire game on YouTube with little to no commentary."

The post was prompted by a user outcry that their videos had been marked by content strikes, as a result of the game's composer Jon Hillman being given freedom to choose whether to protect his intellectual property or not by Green as part of his freelance agreement.

"We paid Jon to create music for our game because we understand that he needs to be paid in order to spend time creating that music," Green writes. "If someone else uses his music without permission, we also believe he should have the right to determine the consequence. And if there is revenue being drawn from that use, we believe he should be compensated."

Green noted that many of the YouTube videos for That Dragon, Cancer are soundtrack files obtained by decompiling the game, and these were the ones Content ID strikes had been intended to compensate Hillman for. However after strikes were being issued to those doing playthroughs as well, Green dropped the claims, though still laments that the uploaders do nothing to encourage their audience to play the game themselves.

"We've also seen many, many Let's Players post entire playthroughs of our game, posting links to all of their own social channels and all of their own merchandising and leaving out a link to our site," Green says. "If a fraction of those who viewed a let's play or twitch stream of our game left us a $1 tip on our website (less than the cost of renting a movie), we would have the available funds to continue to work and create for the benefit of the gaming and the Let's Play community."

Green is insistent that he still supports the YouTube community who wish to show new games to their audience, even as far as allowing them to monetise such videos, but is upset by what he sees as irresponsibility in showing the game in full with little direction towards, or incentive to find, the original product.

"We have allowed our content, the fruit of our sweat and our tears, to be used by Let's Players and to your fans for free to create content with, and you are drawing a small amount of ad revenue from our content," he says. "We are asking that you return that favour 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."

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huldu avatarEmpyre avatarShriven avatarSmoky_the_Bear avatarHideous Mutant Freek avatarZedClampet avatar+5
Empyre Avatar
268
2 Years ago

I find myself asking the question, do people really want to play a game which tells a story of someone afflicted by a cancer and the heart ache that it causes? I for one know of the devastation it can bring, and I sure as hell wouldn't want to play anything that pulls on those heart strings again.

I think there is more viable reasons why this game has not sold well.

6
hahnchen Avatar
97
2 Years ago

I agree that the subject matter is a major reason why the game has not sold. It's a game that while I appreciate it exists, I have no desire to actually buy or play.

I'm sure that the non-interactivity had a part to play. But seeing how successful Firewatch has been, I don't think it's a major factor. Firewatch also has a mystery to it, the wilderness draws your curiosity, while we all know how this cancer ends.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I think in this case, the developers should have focused harder on attaining public arts funding, or from cancer or Christian charities. Instead of having to then sell the game, it could have been available freely with a big donate button towards the charitable bodies that funded it.

If the devs have any money left, I'd recommend the console route. I think there's value in sharing the experience on a communal screen as opposed to typically solitary PC play. I think the platform holders would find the game attractive for their subscription games service.

2
farias Avatar
25
2 Years ago

Well, I never had an impression he was entirely blaming let's plays. And the right comparison isn't how it sold vs. how well it would sell if it was a feelsgood game. It's how it sold vs. how well it would sell without these kind of let's plays. Also there are endless works in fiction bearing similar emotional weight, a lot of them are financial success, I don't think this is a major factor.

1
wuweird Avatar
28
2 Years ago

One of the Youtube LP's of this - which looks like it's the full fricking game - has 2.5 million views. That doesn't sound like people are avoiding it to me.

Youtubers profiting off the actual work of others is definitely having a hugely negative impact on gaming.

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hahnchen Avatar
97
2 Years ago

Yes, but that 2.5M hit Youtuber has done two videos on another narrative game, Firewatch, which has gathered 5M views combined. Firewatch has been an amazing success.

3
Fattox Avatar
465
2 Years ago

I'd say the main impact it has is stopping people from buying something out of curiosity. Which is a good thing, because with the death of demo CDs, it can be hard to know if you're buying a hyped up turd. The less turds that sell, the less turds'll be made in the future.

1
KeefBaker Avatar
393
2 Years ago

I can see that. I bought it, because I approve of people being this brave and I approve of "games as art". Whether I'll ever be strong enough to play it (having lost a few family members due to cancer) I don't know,

1
huldu Avatar
252
2 Years ago

If it's not pirates they sure will blame youtubers and/or streamers for loss of sales. Why am I not even surprised. How about, maybe the game itself wasn't very good because if it was good people would have bought it. Just look at a game like stardew for example that spread like wildfire everywhere and if not for youtube/twitch streamers I wouldn't even have known about the game and bought it.

4
farias Avatar
25
2 Years ago

I don't think you're being reasonable here. If people can experience the game without paying a dime, a lot of them will, no matter how good the game is. And with a game like this, watching a playthrough is almost the same as playing. There's no doubt this fact impacted the game sales. And he's not talking shit about youtubers, there's absolutely no reason for you to sound offended like you did, he was indeed supportive.

1
wuweird Avatar
28
2 Years ago

The game sold 14k copies. Just *one* of the videos on Youtube has over 2.5 million views.

You're arguing for a system where people who actually did the work make next to nothing, while some random asshole with a capture card gets all the reward.

This is how industries die.

-1
Fattox Avatar
465
2 Years ago

The Beginners Guide, another 'walking sim', has sold 10x that and lasts under 2 hours. It also has many videos with millions of views walking through the entire game.

You can't pin the blame squarely on Youtubers/streamers and not consider that maybe the subject matter or the game itself was the reason it sold so little.

I'm sure it can have impact on sales negatively, but perhaps also positively like with many titles (Stardew?). You'll just never know which impact was strongest. But if the game is good and makes people want to play it, it'll sell.

1
Shriven Avatar
3515
2 Years ago

Im fairly sure the "type" of game it is effects it. Also, just today I started watching "Assassins Creed: Syndicate: The Movie" on Youtube. This is a problem for companies but great for consumers. If the story is heavy on narrative, you will have issues with "movie" versions of it.

I have no answers. Going to be interesting to see how the industry does tackle this.

1
Hideous Mutant Freek Avatar
92
2 Years ago

This is something I can agree with. It's the same problem I see with turning video games into movies. The entire point of the game is to have that interactivity where you play some role in how the story progresses. Take that away and you are left with a shell of what once was.

From the sounds of it this game didn't give enough control to the players to even just let them feel as though they are controlling the story some. While I understand that casual and easy games for non gamers are becoming very popular lately there still needs to be some level of control given to the player to be able to have some effect on the story.

I keep getting this feeling like a lot of devs are trying to become more like directors and make a movie instead of a game. It seems like recently games and movies are starting to become very similar in that games are losing some level of interactivity and gaining a lot of pure story telling. Where movies are just taking stories from games and using them on the big screen. This also shows the lack of creativity in hollywood where they can only use an idea someone else has come up with.

Either way games need to be more like games and less like movies, and movies need to stop taking games and making them into movies because removing the ability to be interactive with a story ruins the story, imo.

2
Smoky_the_Bear Avatar
3
2 Years ago

Yeah, at the end of the day these are video GAMES, games are meant to be played, if there isn't enough in the way of gameplay that people feel they can get the same experience watching it for free, maybe that's a problem with the game and the devs need to realize this when they release these story based games with very little in the way of compelling gameplay to go alongside the story. I did the same with Fire watch and didn't feel like I missed out by not playing it, in a way it was actually more enjoyable relaxing on the bed and watching someone else hold down "W" for 4 hours rather than doing it myself. If people can say that about your videogame, maybe you need to work on the game part.

0
ZedClampet Avatar
96
2 Years ago

The problem is that games that really have no gameplay, just narrative with no choices, really don't inspire people to buy them after they've watched them. That much I agree with. On the other hand, I'm a huge fan of indie narrative games and would never play this due to the subject matter. So I think there are two things at play here. One is the game isn't very appealing. Two is that it really has no player agency to inspire someone to want to rehash it after they've watched it. Overall, though, I doubt it would have sold a whole lot more without YouTube. Yes, it would have sold more, but not significantly.

1