Ninja Theory Made No Money on Heavenly Sword

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Ninja Theory Made No Money on Heavenly Sword

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Despite being one of the supposedly major exclusives for the PS3 early in its life, "martial arts drama" Heavenly Sword didn't even make enough money for its developer to make even.

Sony's PlayStation 3 may have plenty of good games these days, but that wasn't the case once upon a time. In fact, there was a time when pretty much every game hyped as being the Big Game for the console (before MGS4, that is) - the game that would finally justify its existence and $600 price tag - ended up releasing to a big fat "eh."

Heavenly Sword(s) was one of those games, a "martial arts drama" whose ambition overextended its execution, and whose one real distinction was having its demo as the very first Zero Punctuation review here on The Escapist.

But it was a high-profile PS3 title in the Premetalgearian eon, which is why it's slightly surprising that developer Ninja Theory is going multiplatform with its next title, Enslaved. It wouldn't be surprising if we had a look at the balance books, though - as Ninja Theory co-founder Tameem Antoniades told CVG, exclusivity can be very difficult for smaller developers.

"It's difficult. Heavenly Sword came out pretty early on the PS3, and we sold, I think, a million and a half copies, and that's still not enough as an independent studio to break even," said Antoniades. "The publisher potentially breaks even at that point, but the developers don't ... It's just that when so many people have Xbox - I mean over half the market or more has Xbox 360s - why limit yourself to one platform?"

It is a very good point - why intentionally limit yourself so heavily? Ignoring a potential audience should never be done without good reason. Hopefully the company will actually be able to turn a profit on its next game, because getting to pay your employees is probably really awesome.

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Shit...I played a demo and didn't think it was THAT bad.

To put it another way: If I had a PS3, I would have likely bought it at some point.

Onyx Oblivion:
Shit...I played a demo and didn't think it was THAT bad.

To put it another way: If I had a PS3, I would have likely bought it at some point.

It's not a quality issue. There just weren't enough PS3 owners out there at the time, I believe he's saying.

John Funk:

Onyx Oblivion:
Shit...I played a demo and didn't think it was THAT bad.

To put it another way: If I had a PS3, I would have likely bought it at some point.

It's not a quality issue. There just weren't enough PS3 owners out there at the time, I believe he's saying.

What were the development costs?

I played the demo and didn't find the game fun at all. Even though I hated Dante's Inferno, at least I knew what I was doing. I was reduced to mashing buttons like crazy when playing HS.

Hopefully the next title will be better.

Honestly, I'm really not surprised by this. After all, they chose to make a game for what was considered a ridiculously expensive console in a market dominated by the Xbox 360.

There's no way they didn't foresee any problems with this.

I agree with their logic, at least from the stand point of when the game was released. PS3 exclusives had it pretty bad at the start. As for now, its fine to look at only a single console. I wish the games had done a bit better though. At least the concept of it looked really interesting.

Onyx Oblivion:

John Funk:

Onyx Oblivion:
Shit...I played a demo and didn't think it was THAT bad.

To put it another way: If I had a PS3, I would have likely bought it at some point.

It's not a quality issue. There just weren't enough PS3 owners out there at the time, I believe he's saying.

What were the development costs?

Hell if I know, I don't work at Ninja Theory.

Should have came out after MGS or after a few exclusives came out.

I mean it never looked like the sort of game to carry a console.

I played the game and found it pretty good except for the "twing twang" parts. The motion controls drag the game down considerably. I hope Enslaved promises a more interesting experience minus the lame motion controls.

John Funk:

Onyx Oblivion:

John Funk:

Onyx Oblivion:
Shit...I played a demo and didn't think it was THAT bad.

To put it another way: If I had a PS3, I would have likely bought it at some point.

It's not a quality issue. There just weren't enough PS3 owners out there at the time, I believe he's saying.

What were the development costs?

Hell if I know, I don't work at Ninja Theory.

You do now!

*gives you Ninja Theory ID badge*

anyway...to the internet!

The internet failed me...

That is the problem with exclusives. Unless they are sure to be big, NEVER make them.

HG131:
That is the problem with exclusives the gaming industry. Unless they are sure to be big, NEVER make them.

Fixed that for ya.

Personally, I don't like exclusives (as a 360 owner and PC sympathizer). Exclusives hurt the customer AND the developer; customers are limited in choice and developers are limited demographically.

John Funk:
...because getting to pay your employees is probably really awesome.

I'm sure the employees find it quite awesome as well.

I wonder if the developers for X Blades broke earn a profit in the end?

the antithesis:

John Funk:
...because getting to pay your employees is probably really awesome.

I'm sure the employees find it quite awesome as well.

I wonder if the developers for X Blades broke earn a profit in the end?

I got a feeling that might be a big fat no...lol.

But, its a shame. I hope they do better next time as its never fun to tell people after all the hard work it basically didnt do well at all...real downer

John Funk:

Onyx Oblivion:
Shit...I played a demo and didn't think it was THAT bad.

To put it another way: If I had a PS3, I would have likely bought it at some point.

It's not a quality issue. There just weren't enough PS3 owners out there at the time, I believe he's saying.

This is the sort of thing I've gone on about for at least a year. Exclusitivity is one of the scourges of gaming right now. If it's a situation where a game can only be fully enjoyed on one platform then fine. Example - Heavy Rain on PS3. Though I'd be more than happy to play it on 20 discs on Xbox 360 (since I don't have a PS3) to get that sort of quality, most gamers won't.

Recently though, Square Enix proved that exclusive titles don't have to, in fact, be exclusive. FF XIII was released on Xbox 360 as wel, despite the FF series being predominantly Sony territory in the past. And most gamers regard that as a good thing, the new move. What annoys me as well is when developers release one game for one platform, then a different title in the same series for a different platform. For example, Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days is a Nintendo DS title. That's great, and I can play that since I have a DS. But KH: Birth By Sleep? PSP exclusive. So despite being a Kingdom Hearts fan from the very start, I need to fork out money I don't have for a PSP to play a key installment in the series, or pirate it for a PSP emulator (which I don't want to do). What was stopping Disney/Square Enix from releasing both games on both DS and PSP, and making everyone happy (as well as scoring more revenue in the process)?

If developers and publishers want to get the most sales, revenue and profit out of their products, they need to stop being so single minded about platform and stop with the exclustivity. If Heavenly Sword was released for Xbox 360 I would buy it, as I think it looks like a great game. But it wasn't. So if Ninja Theory are complaining now about their losses, then tough luck. I would have bought it, but couldn't. They get no sympathy from me.

Onyx Oblivion:
Shit...I played a demo and didn't think it was THAT bad.

To put it another way: If I had a PS3, I would have likely bought it at some point.

There's the problem, you don't have a PS3, and neither do so many other people who think like you do.

Deef:

Onyx Oblivion:
Shit...I played a demo and didn't think it was THAT bad.

To put it another way: If I had a PS3, I would have likely bought it at some point.

There's the problem, you don't have a PS3, and neither do so many other people who think like you do.

it was a fuckton of money back then!

sooo, we wont see nariko again?
i want more of her, even if the game is bad.

Wait, they sold 1.5 million and didn't break even? How much fucking money did they spend developing it?

How can you call yourself a 'small developer' if you blow that kind of cash? The new game looks a lot better, though I still wouldn't buy it.

If these companies want games to be like Hollywood then we are going to end up with the same deal where the only truly creative and successful people are the accountants.

Onyx Oblivion:
Shit...I played a demo and didn't think it was THAT bad..

The trouble is that whilst it's not that bad it's not that good either. The demo of this was one of the first things I tried on my PS3, and really, it was just bland.

Onyx Oblivion:

Deef:

Onyx Oblivion:
Shit...I played a demo and didn't think it was THAT bad.

To put it another way: If I had a PS3, I would have likely bought it at some point.

There's the problem, you don't have a PS3, and neither do so many other people who think like you do.

it was a fuckton of money back then!

That's for sure, and that's what I'm saying. No one bought the PS3 cause it costed too much, and now the developers are feeling the repercussions.

I'm still glad I bought an xbox over a PS3 though.

Brotherofwill:
Wait, they sold 1.5 million and didn't break even? How much fucking money did they spend developing it?

How can you call yourself a 'small developer' if you blow that kind of cash? The new game looks a lot better, though I still wouldn't buy it.

My guess is they had to spend a whole lot of money because it was an early PS3 title and one of the first to try and use it to its relatively high potential.

This is quite troubling news, though. If selling 1.5 million units is no longer a guarantee of profit on an HD system, companies could be in a lot more trouble than we though. It makes me wonder just what high-profile games from this gen really weren't that profitable.

They shouldn't have used so much money developing it.

I mean, come on. Graphics aren't everything. That's the problem with exclusive games nowadays.

*Tries not to laugh*

Well, thats too bad.

John Funk:

Onyx Oblivion:
Shit...I played a demo and didn't think it was THAT bad.

To put it another way: If I had a PS3, I would have likely bought it at some point.

It's not a quality issue. There just weren't enough PS3 owners out there at the time, I believe he's saying.

I played heavenly sword and I would reckon that it's a bit of both.

Eh, I've played the game. It wasn't bad, it was pretty good actually.

Just short. Very, very short...

Wasn't the worst of games, was pretty decent. Could have refined things up a little bit more, but it was by no means bad. Eh, I'd go as far as to say a little bit better than Dante's Inferno--well, about the same, really.

I enjoyed it, even if last boss was a bit cheap. Only cost me 15 dollars so worth that at least.

Le Tueur:
*Tries not to laugh*

Well, thats too bad.

That's fair, they should've made a better game.

On a side note, may I commend you on a truly excellent avatar. "Why do you guys with swords always have to explain where they're from before you kill someone?"

maybe thats why its still like 49.99 at EB Games... It's certainly not a bad game. But it was really really short, like so short that I beat in 3hrs on my first playthrough. Sadly, there isn't enough 'game' to justify the price.

Nice Graphics though... Aaannd Flying Fox was quite possibly one of the most hilarious characters ever.

I think this is a quality issue wrapped up in the trapping of an excusivity problem. Cause you know making a short and lackluster game clearly couldn't have had that effect or anything.

I enjoyed that game enough for two playthroughs. Hell I'd play it anyday of the week over Modern Warfare 2. I hope this doesn't mean they won't make a sequal.

I really liked Heavenly Sword but it was short.

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