Jonathan Blow, from the small indie studio Thekla Inc., has taken to his blog to roll through some of the numbers for the company's new first-person puzzle game, The Witness. According to Blow, The Witness has sold 100,000 copies in one week and has made $5 million in revenue.
IGN picked up the news from over on the The Witness' official website where Blow does a step-by-step walkthrough of the game's sales. He explains how much they sold, what they made and how it compared to his previous game, Braid, writing...
Across all platforms, The Witness has totalled over $5 million USD gross revenue in the first week, and it has sold substantially more than 100,000 units.
Blow can't give specific unit measures due to NDAs signed with the platform holders, in this case that would be Sony, since The Witness is available on the PS4 and PC. Valve is far less stringent when it comes to unit sales and you can even get an idea of how much The Witness has sold on PS4 based on the units that it's moved on PC.
If you take a quick visit to Steam Spy, you'll see that as of the writing of this article, the game has moved 57,631 units in its first week of being made available on Steam. Blow doesn't give an exact approximation of the game's total sales, so it could be anywhere between 105,000 copies or 115,000 copies – but since they said they made $5 million in revenue and if we minus the PC sales at $40 and 57k units, then that would mean the PS4 version made $2.69 million, meaning it moved about 67,369 copies at $40. So technically, they could have sold about 125,000 copies in total between both systems.
Anyway, it's a shame that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo don't allow developers to give exact sales figures. It forces gamers to have to rely on a lot of third-party sources and quote rough approximations.
Regardless, The Witness has managed to move enough to keep Thekla Inc., in business. According to Blow, the report they did on the sales figures wasn't to brag about money but to let people know that as a studio they can keep making games, writing in the blog post...
I want to make clear that we did not make this game in order to make money. We were trying to build a beautiful / interesting / intricate thing, first and foremost. The money just helps us stay in business in order to build new things. It is very easy on the Internet to read a financial posting like this cynically, so I urge folks out there not to do that.
Technically they didn't actually walk away with all $5 million in the pot. From the Steam sales – the 57k figure – that comes up to $2.3 million. Now we don't know exactly what platform percentage Sony takes on the PS4 but it's been rumored to be about 12%, and we know for sure that Valve takes 30% off the revenue in digital sales on Steam. So in actual profit, Thekla made about $1.6 million in Steam sales and maybe $2.36 million in PS4 sales, so they get to walk away with $3.96 million at the end of the day, which is not bad at all.
The Witness is available right now on PC and PS4 and, according to Blow's post, the game could be coming to the Xbox One, iOS and OSX sometime in the near future.