Jonathan Blow’s mesmerising, maddening open-world puzzler The Witness has shifted “substantially more than 100,000 units” in a week.
The developer made the announcement in a blog post where he noted that his follow-up to Braid has already grossed over $5m.
Blow said that this is “a good chunk more revenue in one week than Braid made in its entire first year.” Of course, one must bear in mind that Braid only launched on one platform initially before coming to Steam eight months later. It also cost much less to buy at $14.99 (£10ish) rather than The Witness’ somewhat controversial price point of £29.99 / $39.99.
Yet it wasn’t just that The Witness made hand over first more than Braid; it sold doubly as many units in its first week. Part of this is due to its multi-platform launch, but even taking that into consideration The Witness sold more copies by “a decent margin” on both PS4 and PC individually than Braid did during its Xbox 360 launch week.
“This is great because as price goes up, naturally the number of units sold goes down,” Blow said. “So the fact that we beat Braid by units, more than doubly, is a really nice success.”
Blow couldn’t give detailed figures, as he’s under contract not to, but he did note that neither PC nor PS4 dominated sales and both audiences had a strong appetite for his seven-year passion project.
It’s worth noting that even though The Witness has exceeded the dev’s week one sales expectations, the game still has a ways to go before it can turn a profit as Blow blew more than $5m to bring his puzzling digital dreamscape to fruition.
“It is looking like, as time goes on, we should break even and make a comfortable safety margin on top of that, which will allow us to make more nice games in the future – unless some kind of world economic disaster happens,” Blow said.
He further clarified that he didn’t make The Witness to make money, though he does intend stay in business as a full-time game developer. “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.”
As for what’s next for Blow and his company Thekla, the developer said he’d like to bring The Witness to more platforms and is seriously considering ports for Xbox One, Mac, iOS and Android. But one thing at a time. First he needs to fix bugs on the PC version and add “configurable controls and rendering options” to the game so it won’t make certain people sick.
Our take on The Witness was very positive with our Oli Welsh proclaiming that Blow “so beautifully and so successfully made art out of puzzles” in his glowing The Witness review.