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Armchair theories on why POE2 didn't sell super well

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3 minutes ago, thelee said:

 

I do think it matters a bit for PC games (hence my "hundreds of sales" comment) - the fact that Avellone and Sawyer were on PoE1 was what first piqued my interest in kickstarter at all, since I recognized their names from Black Isle Studios, but I hardly doubt it matters to the degree that you can move mountains.

I didn't know who Avellone and Sawyer were, but I when I read the Eterntity project is being done by the creators of some Infinity games I played back then, this was like a stamp of quality, so I was interested.

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1 hour ago, thelee said:

yeah, I think "being an icon in the PC gaming" industry is like being a D-list celebrity in Hollywood. I know who Avellone, Sawyer, Feargus, Tim Cain, etc. are because I played lots of PC games in the 90s/early 2000s (not to mention John Carmack, American McGee, and... ugh... John Romero). But PC games are tiny market compared to the video game market at large - afaict AAA tiles bank most of their sales from consoles and PC is just a fraction. It's one thing to try to bank your game sales on Chris Avellone or Tim Cain, it's a whole other thing on Kojima (Death Stranding) or Miyamoto (all Mario).

I do think it matters a bit for PC games (hence my "hundreds of sales" comment) - the fact that Avellone and Sawyer were on PoE1 was what first piqued my interest in kickstarter at all, since I recognized their names from Black Isle Studios, but I hardly doubt it matters to the degree that you can move mountains.

You compare them to D-list celebrities in Hollywood, but I would compare them to arthouse or cult filmmakers instead. Those who follow arthouse or cult films will immediately recognize who Michael Haneke, John Sayles or Alex Cox are, and will watch films by them just for the sake of their involvement. None of them are making nine figures with their films, they might not be making eight for that matter, but there still exists a niche that consumes their work and pays to see what they do. Pillars doesn't have to compete with Death Stranding, it was always a more niche product, a PC game to put it in your own terms, so being an icon of PC gaming sounds like a great way to start generating interest in a game for that niche.

Edited by algroth
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1 hour ago, algroth said:

He's an icon in the gaming industry for certain, what with being the main author behind two games often brought up as the best-written games of all time in Fallout 2 and Planescape: Torment (KOTOR 2 as well, I guess). Then again, so is Josh for that matter.

You know, this is exactly why CA's recent grog icon status baffles me. I mean, his Opus Magnum Planescape Torment is famous for being "That game with fantastic story and crap combat". Grogs don't give a toss about stories, but combat is god (only if exactly like in BG2, but still). Why then? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Fallout 2. Great game. Also, stylized pulpy sci-fi with its own turn=based system that looks and feels exactly like BG2 not. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

KOTOR2. Great game, combat isn't very BG2, plus it was released on those filthy consoles for filthy casuals. All the other stuff is very much products of collaboration.

Right now, the only plausible hypothesis I have is that Avellone's friction with Obsidian made public approximately around the same time codex types faced dawning realization that Obsidian, in fact, does not exactly strive to cater to their tastes up to tiniest details; ol' Chris just got picked up as a flag...in which case, dude gotta beware, because grogs are fickle mistresses -- like, weren't they praying at Sawyer's altar once too?

 

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2 minutes ago, bugarup said:

You know, this is exactly why CA's recent grog icon status baffles me. I mean, his Opus Magnum Planescape Torment is famous for being "That game with fantastic story and crap combat". Grogs don't give a toss about stories, but combat is god (only if exactly like in BG2, but still). Why then? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Fallout 2. Great game. Also, stylized pulpy sci-fi with its own turn=based system that looks and feels exactly like BG2 not. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

KOTOR2. Great game, combat isn't very BG2, plus it was released on those filthy consoles for filthy casuals. All the other stuff is very much products of collaboration.

Right now, the only plausible hypothesis I have is that Avellone's friction with Obsidian made public approximately around the same time codex types faced dawning realization that Obsidian, in fact, does not exactly strive to cater to their tastes up to tiniest details; ol' Chris just got picked up as a flag...in which case, dude gotta beware, because grogs are fickle mistresses -- like, weren't they praying at Sawyer's altar once too?

 

I'll say that the "grog" mindset is very much in the same category as the likes of hardcore Trekkies and Wookies. It's fun to poke around and attempt to decipher their own particular madness, but it is all at the end of the day senseless and arbitrary. :lol:


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56 minutes ago, bugarup said:

grogs are fickle mistresses -- like, weren't they praying at Sawyer's altar once too?

That was before they realized that he's a lefty. ;)

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2 hours ago, xzar_monty said:

I am asking why, because there must be a reason why somebody is called a legend. For instance, Pele is a legend in football/soccer for his extraordinary goal haul, his otheworldly skills and his world championships. Etc.

You haven't given any reason why Avellone should be regarded as a legend. Saying "He IS a legend" means nothing. Why is he a legend? In whose opinion? I don't think there's anything legendary about him. He writes quite well. But I haven't seen anything from him that would set him apart from other CRPG writers, and certainly not anything that I would ever consider to be of legendary quality.

He created one of the all times best games and RPG games fans recognize him and many developers wanted him to be a part of their games. Hence the many kickstarter games asked him to parricipate and fans backed those titles.

2 hours ago, xzar_monty said:

That's a fair point, but to continue on the line thelee brought up above: which percentage of gamers even know or care who wrote those games? This is not meant to bring Avellone down in any way whatsoever, but my sense still is that the number of people who hold him in extremely high regard is small, which makes the "legend" status somewhat dubious.

It's like saying Spielberg isn't a legend because how many moviegoers know or care who directed those movies. Just bonkers.

2 hours ago, Boeroer said:

It sold very well given that is was done by an independent developer and had lowish budget.  Which made it a nice financial success I guess. But the sales weren't astronomical.

The point is: if Avellone's name has any noticable impact on sales numbers (I don't know but it may be) it's still not a sufficient reason to explain Deadfire's very low sales numbers (compared to PoE). PoE wasn't advertised with "two characters written by Chris Avellone" either by the way. 

The reason why there aren't any "directed by your buddy Josh Sawyer" tags on games may be because Josh hates that (I presume - based on his tweets that evolve around such advertisement techniques. Recent: Death Stranding).

PoE was advertised as being made by CA. He left and PoE2 tanked. I'm sure there were other factors but if you have better explanations please provide.

As for Sawyer his stance on hating promoting the games by the famous name would bear some significance if there were anyone that would want to promote the game on his name. It's easy to reject something no one is proposing XD

1 hour ago, wih said:

I haven't played Planescape Torment, and the only work by Avellone I know is Durance and Grieving Mother. And I couldn't stand them, because of the excessive writing. Especially the introduction of Grieving Mother was awful. It was so long and there wasn't an option to say "Goodbye", I had to click on "Continue" again and again and the thing went on and on.

So for me Avellone is associated with pretentious writing, because when you write for a game you have to consider your audience is there to play a game, not sit and read your novels.  Nobody thinks movies should be filled with hours of monologues, why should this happen in games.

Incidentally, this is one of the ways in which PoE disappointed those 600k players that didn't buy Deadfire (just my opinion, of course :) ).

So basically your stance is I never watched Pele play so he is not a legend, never watched Spilberg movie so he is not a legend and I never played chess so Bobby Fisher is not a legends. Bonkers, just bonkers.


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FWIW, If you look at the Kickstarter it promotes Avellone, Sawyer and Cain - "Obsidian Entertainment and our legendary game designers Chris Avellone, Tim Cain, and Josh Sawyer are excited to bring you a new role-playing game for the PC. Project Eternity (working title) pays homage to the great Infinity Engine games of years past: Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment."

Its pretty clear that Obsidian felt that these three developers had name recognition amid the people who were going to pledge for the game to be made.

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It's a direct sequel, so it has to be better than the first game to succeed. While there were good improvements to the mechanics and the graphics, those aren't the types of changes that will increase sales significantly. If you look at BG2, you get to keep the levels you earned in BG, and the character interactions were more interesting. With PoE2, you got stripped off all you'd accomplished, and the character interactions were about the same. Plus it seems harder to become engaged in the main plot of PoE2; you're basically chasing down a deity for some other deities, with no real motivation to do so. I think the game would actually have worked better if you stripped out the deity plot until the very end, and let you just explore and deal with the factions.


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@Skarpen: it would be very nice if you didn't add "bonkers" to points and comparisons you make. We neither belittle your arguments nor you as a person and you don't need to belittle us and our arguments to make a point. If your reasoning is solid it will get acknowledged. Calling people names will just lead to the opposite.
The points that were made by the others are not bonkers in any ways but brought forth in a decent manner. Maybe they are wrong, maybe not. But bonkers? Hardly... Not everything or everyone one doesn't agree with is bonkers.

Concerning advertising games with Josh Sawyer: I don't have any numbers but I guess there are at least as many gamers that would call Sawyer a game developer "legend" as there are Avellone fans. And I also think there's a significant overlap. Josh may have lost some followers because he's quite outspoken when it comes to his political views though. 

But anyways: several things alleviate your argument that Avellone's departure caused a significant sales drop - or that the participation of Avellone automatically means that sales will go up tremendously:

  • Preorders of Deadfire were higher than those of PoE.
  • User reviews were great in general. If there would have been massive disappointment about Avellone leaving it would have had an impact on user reviews. I read a lot of the negative reviews on Steam and I don't recall any that said something about Avellone. They might exist but I doubt there are many.
  • Projects in which Avellone participated didn't experience a massive sales surge that comes near the sales drop of PoE-->Deadfire. In some cases the follow-up game with Avellone sold worse than the first one. Example: FTL (Avellone only participated in the free Enhanced Edition) --> Into the Breach. Obviously those are quite different games on several levels. But if the theory that Avellone's name alone has so much impact it shouldn't matter if the games are different (as long as they are comparably good).
  • I saw nobody on Twitter or in Discord addressing Obsidian developers or Obsidian themselves with that theory. 

Where one might read such a theory and where it might get fostered is the RPGCodex. But that's just a fraction of potential CRPG players and its views and opinions as a collective doesn't necessarily represent those of the majority.

All in all, lookig at all the known facts and numbers (good reviews both from users and critics, improved gameplay, incorporated player feedback etc.) I get the impression that deep disappointment or anger or frustration with Deadfire are not the cause. It rather seems that a lot of potential players (aka target audience) didn't really care about a PoE2. But those who cared mostly liked it. 

Edited by Boeroer
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21 minutes ago, Amentep said:

FWIW, If you look at the Kickstarter it promotes Avellone, Sawyer and Cain - "Obsidian Entertainment and our legendary game designers Chris Avellone, Tim Cain, and Josh Sawyer are excited to bring you a new role-playing game for the PC. Project Eternity (working title) pays homage to the great Infinity Engine games of years past: Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment."

Its pretty clear that Obsidian felt that these three developers had name recognition amid the people who were going to pledge for the game to be made.

is likewise notable pledges weren't a problem for deadfire in spite o' chrisA absence from obsidian and his friction with former employer. deadfire fig pledges show there were a substantial core following for poe and much anticipation for a sequel, in spite o' chrisA and his attempts at self-immolation-by-internet. am suspecting the problem for obsidian and deadfire were all those other folks, the more casual gamers who didn't know if fig were a fruit, flower or a crowdfunding campaign, folks who woulda' been less likely to know or care 'bout individual obsidian developers. 

the hardcore folks, divided by poe, nevertheless spent more on deadfire crowdfunding efforts in spite o' smaller numbers. sadly, obsidian did not recognize warning signs. 

what is clear is that many folks who bought poe1 did not buy poe2. assume chrisA were a major cause o' a massive falloff in sales is fanciful and correlative speciousness at its worst. that said, we don't have any clear evidence for any other theory o' sales drop off neither. doesn't make the chrisA theory any less ridiculous.

HA! Good Fun!

 

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"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

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12 minutes ago, Boeroer said:

Concerning advertising games with Josh Sawyer: I don't have any numbers but I guess there are at least as many gamers that would call Sawyer a game developer "legend" as there are Avellone fans. And I also think there's a significant overlap. Josh may have lost some followers because he's quite outspoken when it comes to his political views though. 

That's just bonkers. And I use bonkers when referring to a statement that is so outlandish no other word seems to fit. It's not personal, it's about the statement itself.

Quote

But anyways: several things alleviate your argument that Avellone's departure caused a significant sales drop - or that the participation of Avellone automatically means that sales will go up tremendously:

  • Preorders of Deadfire were higher than those of PoE.
  • User reviews were great in general. If there would have been massive disappointment about Avellone leaving it would hacve had an impact on unser reviews. I read a lot of the negative reviews on Steam and I don't recall any that said something about Avellone. They might exist but I doubt there are many.
  • Projects in which Avellone participated didn't experience a massive sales surge that comes near the sales drop of PoE-->Deadfire. In some cases the follow-up game with Avellone sold worse than the first one. Example: FTL (Avellone only participated in the free Enhanced Edition) --> Into the Breach. Obviously those are quite different games on several levels. But if the theory that Avellone's name allone has so much impact it shouldn't matter if the games are different (as long as they are comparably good).
  • I saw nobody on Twitter or in Discord addressing Obsidian developers or Obsidian themselves with that theory. 

Where one might read such a theory and where it might get fostered is the RPGCodex. But that's just a fraction of potential CRPG players and its views and opinions as a collective doesn't necessarily represent those of the majority.

All in all, lookig at all the known facts and numbers (good reviews both from users and critics, improved gameplay, incorporated player feedback etc.) I get the impression that deep disappointment or anger or frustration with Deadfire are not the cause. It rather seems that a lot of potential players (aka target audiance) didn't really care about a PoE2. But those who cared mostly liked it. 

So, to summarize you have no numbers but you throw such statements as just a fraction, not enough etc. And your analysis of the situation is Deadfire sold badly because people didn't bought the game? Is that right, or am I missing some crucial info there?


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On 11/12/2019 at 3:00 AM, Melusina said:

pirates setting, of course.

I think this is the most likely. It's the biggest reason I have seen cited by people who didn't buy the game but normally buy those types of games. 


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1 hour ago, Oerwinde said:

I think this is the most likely. It's the biggest reason I have seen cited by people who didn't buy the game but normally buy those types of games. 

I really don't get it. I don't think it's that big a part of the experience, there's pirates in it but you may as well accuse Baldur's Gate II of having a pirate setting because at one point you head over to Brynnlaw. It's really one faction and a few quests associated with them.

Mind, I'm not saying you're wrong in pointing it out, I've also seen such complaints levied a few times. I just think it's overblown and don't get why people have fixated so strongly on that aspect is all - or why they find it so objectionable either.

Edited by algroth

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3 hours ago, Gromnir said:

is likewise notable pledges weren't a problem for deadfire in spite o' chrisA absence from obsidian and his friction with former employer.

I just wanted to address the idea that Avellone wasn't 'well known' or used as a 'draw' for the first game.

My thoughts on Deadfire's performance is that a multitude of factors probably played into it. The biggest factor though was that it was a known quantity 2nd time around, for both good and bad. It couldn't be all things to all people anymore.

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Personally, I was a n00b scrub to CRPGs (POE 1 was my first one ever) when I first played POE 1 and A. I didn't fully understand how to appreciate the depth, complexity, and value of a good CRPG, especially compared to the rather derelict state in which most newer games find themselves, and B. I had no idea what was going on - I didn't know what all the names of in-game lore meant, how to level up my character, how to build my character, what stats on items actually meant, and the RTwP was very difficult as a n00b. Nevertheless, I thought POE 1 was awesome and it gave me a strong interest in CRPGs. I played some other CRPGs afterwards and delayed getting Deadfire since I thought that I'd feel the same way about it that I did for POE 1 despite the fact that it piqued my interest in CRPGs in the first place, however, that was not the case. I played Deadfire starting in May this year and I instantly fell completely in love with it, playing it nonstop until I beat it, while in the process looking up what everything meant and building my character in a way that I've never built a character in any other game before (crit/attack speed/perception with rapier with medium armor).

Since then, I've been fawning over the idea of another good RTwP CRPG (I have Pathfinder Kingmaker, but I personally see POE as superior and more enthralling, so it's difficult to downgrade in what I see as nearly every way besides choice-making, which is obviously a huge aspect of things, but what's it matter if I don't care much about Pathfinder's story?). As a result of this, I've gone back to POE I since about a week ago and have been playing consistently every day - with my newfound appreciation - and am really enjoying it.

Soo, a conclusion of mine is that perhaps POE was a lot of people's first go at a CRPG and their memories of it are full of struggle, confusion, and intrigue to try out other CRPGs. Perhaps others who were n00bs felt the same way that I did? In the end, of course, POE is by far my favorite CRPG series.

I don't know why Pathfinder was so successful, since it doesn't have turn based or multiplayer and that seems to attract a lot of people; it may simply be an aberration or an outlier, as we call it in statistics. I'll be honest, a reason why I decided to get Deadfire was because it added turn based, nevertheless, I quickly realized while playing it on turn based that RTwP is vastly superior.

On a side note, every time GOG has a sale, POE II is at or near the top of the list of most purchased games.

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4 hours ago, algroth said:

I really don't get it. I don't think it's that big a part of the experience, there's pirates in it but you may as well accuse Baldur's Gate II of having a pirate setting because at one point you head over to Brynnlaw. It's really one faction and a few quests associated with them.

Mind, I'm not saying you're wrong in pointing it out, I've also seen such complaints levied a few times. I just think it's overblown and don't get why people have fixated so strongly on that aspect is all - or why they find it so objectionable either.

 

Yeah, but BG2 still had fantasy setting and Brynnlaw is just an episode. POE2 just was too pirates.

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I figure it actually doesn't matter so much that the game itself isn't really a pirate game. What matters more is the impression potential players get when looking at trailers, scavenger hunt, ads, interviews, artwork prior to release. And if you only mention tropical biome + sloops + pirates then the ship has already sailed. :)

This obviously can only be a part of the explanation though. But I think it's a reasonable one. Like the "it's not BG3" and the "IE-style game with RTwP saturation" as well as the "PoE did disappoint players who didn't care for Deadfire" explanations. And also marketing. 

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7 minutes ago, Boeroer said:

I figure it actually doesn't matter so much that the game itself isn't really a pirate game. What matters more is the impression potential players get when looking at trailers, scavenger hunt, ads, interviews, artwork prior to release. And if you only mention tropical biome + sloops + pirates then the ship has already sailed. :)

This obviously can only be a part of the explanation though. But I think it's a reasonable one. Like the "it's not BG3" and the "IE-style game with RTwP saturation" as well as the "PoE did disappoint players who didn't care for Deadfire" explanations. And also marketing. 

I could see how many might see the trailers and think that it's merely a pirate CRPG, which might seem quite unusual. Perhaps it should have had a heavier emphasis on the Renaissance/colonial aspects of the game when it came to marketing, i.e. the Vailians, which is basically right after the Medieval period ended. I can see the conniption the developers might have had regarding this, as medieval themes are heavily overused in any type of fantasy game, yet any deviation (even moving into the more complex Renaissance period) from it has its risks.

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8 hours ago, Skarpen said:

That's just bonkers. And I use bonkers when referring to a statement that is so outlandish no other word seems to fit. It's not personal, it's about the statement itself.

That is your take on it. But to others who look at what you write, you use bonkers when others disagree with your opinion and resorting to strong language appears to be your only recourse. Please try to be a little less unpleasant. Even if you are completely right -- which has not been demonstrated at all -- it still makes no sense to treat other views as if they are senseless. I agree it would be bonkers to claim that the moon is made of cheese, but nobody has been anywhere near that category in this discussion.

Now, what I would like you to do is demonstrate somehow that Avellone's involvement in the game made a difference. I know that's impossible, but can you point us to any net sources, for instance, that show people actually cared about Avellone's involvement? For my part, I can say that I do not know a single person who either knew or cared that Avellone was involved in PoE. When we talked about the game, we were interested in the fact that a new "Baldur's Gate" type game was coming. For the record, we neither knew nor cared about who made Baldur's Gate, either. We did know the company, but not the names of the developers.

It appears to me that your perspective is wildly skewed, and you yourself are not aware of it.

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8 hours ago, Skarpen said:

That's just bonkers. And I use bonkers when referring to a statement that is so outlandish no other word seems to fit. It's not personal, it's about the statement itself.

So, to summarize you have no numbers but you throw such statements as just a fraction, not enough etc. And your analysis of the situation is Deadfire sold badly because people didn't bought the game? Is that right, or am I missing some crucial info there?

If you call a reasonably presented argument bonkers you are indirectly calling that person who made it bonkers. It's bad style and totally unneccessary since nobody attacked you or your arguments in the same way. As you can see with most other folks participating in this discussion it's perfectly doable to have a controversial discussion while stying decent.

Besides that, none of the points you attacked were outlandish to begin with. That might be your perception because you seem to have become obsessed by the Avellone theory. I made some points why I think that theory is not very convincing - or better: why this theory (Avellone leaves --> sales drop) might not be completely wrong but can't explain the massive sales drop. That's my whole point on this. Maybe several fans turned their back on Obsidian after that. But 600,000 Avellone fans boycotting Deadfire? That's a theory that I could call "bonkers" if I wished to attack you personally. Which I don't.
I presented no numbers because I don't have access to any that would show the impact of Avellone leaving Obsidian or writing for other games. However, I made some observations and draw logical conclusions that oppose your theory. You didn't present any numbers either and besides that not even one solid argument or even anecdotal evidence (which isn't strong but it's better than nothing), yet you are accusing me of fabricating stuff and call other people's reflective take on this "bonkers". 

My analysis of the situation is that we can't know really why Deadfire sold poorly, but when I look at all the points that were made I think that unseccessfull  marketing, disappointment with PoE, isometric RTwP CRPG saturation, alleged pirate setting and change of crowdfunding platform and narrowing down on the target audiance instead of trying to widen it are the main reasons. Yet I can't be sure - like you can't be sure. Therefore I choose to not to crusade for a certain reason. I only challange theories that I think are weaker than others. Since we can't know for sure (I mean not even the developers with telemetry and other tools do know) it's just for the sake of the discussion itself - so better keep it decent I'd say.    

 

Edited by Boeroer
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4 hours ago, Amentep said:

My thoughts on Deadfire's performance is that a multitude of factors probably played into it. The biggest factor though was that it was a known quantity 2nd time around, for both good and bad. It couldn't be all things to all people anymore.

Yep, this was probably a very big factor, in the sense that "nostalgia can only work once", as has been said. PoE was in the enviable position that gamers could project all their fantasies into it because none of them actually knew what was coming. With Deadfire, essentially all of that dreaming had been taken away.

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18 minutes ago, Jill7894 said:

 I can see the conniption the developers might have had regarding this

Aaand I learned an awesome new word today. Thanks for this! :)


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4 minutes ago, xzar_monty said:

Yep, this was probably a very big factor, in the sense that "nostalgia can only work once", as has been said. PoE was in the enviable position that gamers could project all their fantasies into it because none of them actually knew what was coming. With Deadfire, essentially all of that dreaming had been taken away.

Sounds right.


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2 minutes ago, Boeroer said:

Aaand I learned an awesome new word today. Thanks for this! :)

No problem, lol. :p to try something new or to stick to a tried, tested, and potentially overused formula?

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Deadfire was never going to have good word of mouth with such a garbage main plot. There were other issues, sure, but none of them killed my interest in the series like that did. Just dreadful.

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