Prison Architect Developers Admit Latest Game ‘Bombed’

Prison Architect Developers Admit Latest Game ‘Bombed’

You’ve come off the back of a game that’s sold over two million copies, so you must be doing something correct. Sweet, you can do it again, right? Yes, that could happen… or, your next project could sell a pittance in comparison. Such is the case with Introversion, the studio behind Early Access poster-child Prison Architect and its less, less, less, less successful followup, Scanner Sombre.

In a straight-shooting video, producer Mark Morris and designer Chris Delay waste no time putting out the lacklustre numbers for Introversion’s latest outing, Scanner Sombre:

[Scanner Sombre] hasn’t done very well, has it? No it’s bombed. It’s bombed in a big way. How many units have we shipped now? I don’t know… 6000 copies or something?

The pair go on to say that while they didn’t believe Scanner Sombre would fly off the digital shelves in the same way Prison Architect did, they — wrongly — predicted the popularity of PA and the Introversion name would guarantee the game a much bigger cash pie:

I didn’t think that was possible. It’s not that I arrogantly believe we’re the best people in the world or anything, it’s that our last game sold over 2 million. So I kind of wrongly assumed that would just give us a minimum number of people looking at our game.

So, if you’re wondering just how hard it’s gotten for indies, even established ones, to make a living, well… it’s really, really hard. Having just released a well-received game myself on Steam, I can attest to the difficulty of making a crumb in the industry right now.

I should probably write about that at some point, but for now, Introversion’s video is a sobering watch for any developer.

Scanner Sombre VR mode released (beta) [YouTube, via Gamasutra]


  • Wow… So, instead of going to them to interview them, you just quoted there PA Dev Vid? So, whats new that you added, other than you’re own opinion, to the discussion? Nothing. And you call your self journalists…

    • The video was published over the weekend. Logan’s posting about the video so people get to see it in case they didn’t some other way. There’s nothing preventing a follow-up interview down the road, but in the meantime everyone can see the developers’ own words first. Interviews don’t come together in the blink of an eye – especially on a day where it’s more or less a weekend everywhere in the world, and people aren’t that likely to answer their emails.

  • I’m not too surprised. While it had a somewhat neat gimmick, most of the publicity for this game was done through youtubers – sorry, I meant, “game influencers” to use EA’s nauseating term – who, to be fair, didn’t do a great job marketing this game. Most of them out-right told viewers that the game was a one-trick pony that lasted 3 hours and that it wasn’t worth the price.

    Prison architect sold 2 million copies because it was a good game that deserved to sell two million copies. Scanner Sombre is a far worse game. It’s not surprising that it sold poorly. I know bad games can sell a lot of units – but usually only if the publisher/developer sinks a ton into marketing and even then it usually only works if it leeches of the good will of a previous title. Scanner Sombre was a poor game with no marketing and with no connection to prison architect.

  • This is actually kind of arrogant – assuming your game should sell just because you made a good game and you’re an indie dev. You’re already competing with a sea of noise with gems floating on top. If your game isn’t good, nobody will play it.

    We have an abundance of games – and they’re all fairly cheap in the indie sector and there are a lot of clones. If your game isn’t gripping, entertaining, or otherwise worth playing, it won’t sell. People are particularly wary of devs trying to trade off past glory: look at the damage Double Fine has sustained post-Kickstarter. We are well past the era when being an indie dev was special and fostered sympathy – perhaps Introversion, having been there from the start, haven’t realised that yet. Excuses and concessions have run out in the indie sector and the expected standard of quality is much higher. That’s the nature of progress.

    Feel sort of bad for them that they’re disappointed because they’re a good developer, but if you produce something that isn’t very entertaining, what do you expect?

  • The game they released couldn’t have been more different from Prison Architect if they tried.

    If they thought that their 2 million sandbox simulation fans might enjoy a bit of walking simulator/horror action they need a new marketing guy.

  • weird timing i was thinking about picking up Scanner Sombre and i actually purchased zafehouse diaries 2.. loved the first game 🙂

    • loved the first game

      You should probably go leave them a positive review on Steam if you haven’t, I think the first game’s only at 56%.

    • Wasn’t there a zafehouse or similar sounding game released on here by some dude that was making a game a week? I think he managed 3. The zafehouse one has a bug that made it impossible at release and I didn’t try it again after it was patched.

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