Looking at the success of Introversion's just-out-of-Early-Access Prison Architect, you might be under the impression the developer has always enjoyed a smooth ride on the indie game rollercoaster. Not so — at one point the company was down to just two employees and staring its demise in the face.
Fortunately, a few things went the developer's way. As MCV UK's Alex Calvin writes, the first was convincing Humble Bundle to do an Introversion-only bundle, which brought in a cool million to keep the company going. Work then started on Prison Architect and while development was (intentionally) prolonged, it has become one of Early Access' biggest success stories.
Not that EA was an easy decision. When your development cycle doesn't necessarily have a defined end, it can be hard to keep expectations under control, as Introversion's Mark Morris explains:
“At the start we were very cautious about what we said and the language we used. We never promised anybody monthly updates for instance, we just settled into that pattern. To begin with, we didn’t know if we were going to be able to build in meaningful features every four weeks, alongside ensuring we weren’t breaking old builds and weren’t releasing a version that would just crash on launch. We were very careful to be clear about what people were actually paying for at the start, which was a very buggy and broken version of a game. We didn’t want people coming back and saying they couldn’t play it.
Hopefully with Prison Architect at version 1.0, the team can get back onto Subversion. Gosh that game was looking fantastic.