Unless you are Larian's finance manager I don't see how you can be so sure that they squeezed every penny they have. "Clearly" so! No one knows and no one should care unless they've invested money in the company somehow. What we should care about as players is the final product, and the final product is, imho, very good. As I said, if one's problem is the voiced narrartor or the voiced characters in genereal , they can very easily be muted. If one cares about the game being voiced, like I am, I don't think they'll be dissapointed at all.
What I mostly see, tbh, in this forum, is people being against VO because. There are, clearly, solutions to that and the budget-expert talks by fans are pure speculations if not just self-assurance that thank God our precious game won't be voiced.
Personal opinion, the voices of DOS 2 are way better than Pillars' - still I wouldn't have muted Pillars even if there was an option; I like voice in games where there can be - it makes their world more alive for me.
I always find it a little annoying when people make pronouncements about what a developer has or hasn't done, how much something costs, what is possible and isn't possible in a given game, etc. If someone is an experienced developer they may be able to make some educated guesses, but unless you are in a position within a dev team to really know chances are a lot of the ideas a given end user may have are wrong, sometimes comically so.
That being said Swen Vincke talked about some of the stuff they did to fund the first Divinity game, and they did put all their money into it from the Kickstarter, from the money raised through a company they created to hold and license their IP that investors could then invest in, with their IP as collateral, and when they felt they needed even more money to make the game as complete and polished as they felt it should be they did Early Access and put that money into the game as well. So at least according to Swen for the DOS 1 they put all available funds they could into the game.
What I find interesting is that after launch when the game was received well and sold well they decided to make further improvements and release on console with the "Enhanced Edition." What did they do? Well one of the things they did was add full, high quality voice acting. They added controller support for the console version and the PC. They expanded the game, adding new quests, areas, characters, and reworking some existing dialogue. They added new gameplay features, new game modes, and general polish improvements to the entire game.
They did that for a game that they had already released and had already seen most of the sales it was going to. Of course the console sales would hopefully pay for this and then some but they probably could have gotten away with doing less. Swen's talk is very interesting and I think a lot of people here would be interested in it.
Looking at the sales numbers (which is always really tricky for us end users with no access to hard sales data) it would seem all of that paid off for Larian. I'll be using the best tools I have but I can never know exactly how accurate this information is.
SteamSpy shows roughly 1.5 million owners. That sounds accurate, as in 2014 three months after DOS "Classic" was released but well before the enhanced edition, Swen Vincke said the following:
“It has sold well over half a million units by now, mostly from Steam, with 10% from retail,” said Vincke. “Break even has been reached, our debts have been paid, and we are now in the profitable zone.
“While not all of the money is for us as we had private investors on board, the game did sufficiently well for us to envision funding our next endeavors with it, meaning we’re pretty happy about its performance.”
I don't know what their average unit price was and frankly I don't think I have even enough info to guess. If I was to throw out something wild I might say $20 average unit price, meaning gross revenue would be around $30m from all PC sales digital+retail of the base game and EE. That's a tidy sum even if you are giving half the profits to investors.
Console numbers are again difficult to find. If I look at VGChartz I get ~410,000 units, but I have heard that VGChartz is not that reliable and does not track digital sales, a problem today when I'm sure plenty of people on console bought the game as a digital download. I've read other reports that it sold closer to 900k on console but there was no attribution to that number. Let's be what I feel is conservative (but again, I have no idea) and say 500k units at an average unit price of $20. Now you are looking at another $10 million in revenue.
Of course platform holders take their cut and investors take their returns, but to me it seems like a pretty good return. They leveraged everything they could, including crowdfunding money, investor's money with IP as collateral, they repacked their older games and resold them for more revenue there, then Early Access for even more money to continue getting the game to the point they thought it needed to be to be a quality release. And you know what? It was their highest rated game, both critically and by users, in their history, though I have a feeling DOS 2 will edge it out now.
Pillars didn't move quite as many copies on PC I believe and I'm not sure how many units they'll move on the consoles. But I think Larian and Swen really showed that investing the time and money into your game to make it as good as you possibly can does pay off. At launch "as good as you possibly can" didn't include full voice acting, but after launch when the game was successful and well received and they decided to release on consoles they decided that full VO now was part of "as good as you possibly can." I believe their word count is significantly less than POE's, so I'm not saying this is necessarily something Obsidian can do with Deadfire.
One point Swen makes in his talk about this is that by giving extra to your community, like making all the enhanced edition improvements free to people who already owned the game, or releasing free DLC like the Bairdotr and Wolgraff characters, you really go a long way towards building loyalty and trust in your community.
This really went off on a tangent but I find this kind of stuff almost as interesting as the games themselves.
Edited by Mygaffer, 17 September 2017 - 08:10 PM.