Legend of Grimrock has already made back its development cost "many times over."
Sometimes, in an industry in which selling more than a million copies is often seen as a sign of failure, it's nice to hear about developers who find success by just going out and making the game they want to make. So let's talk a bit about Legend of Grimrock, the dungeon-crawling RPG recently released by Finnish studio Almost Human Games. Legend of Grimrock is an unwaveringly old-school experience, with sparse graphics, vicious puzzles and enemies who will swat you like a fly. It also seems to be a pretty big hit.
Review scores and forum feedback alike have been positive, but what really counts is that the game is apparently turning a handy profit. Almost Human declined to provide specifics but told Gamasutra that less than a week after launch, Grimrock had already made back its development costs "many times over" and that "the company seems pretty secure now" as a result. The game hit the top of the Steam sales chart soon after it came out and now sits in second place, muscled out of the throne by yesterday's release of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition.
Almost Human Games joins Frictional Games, which had a hit in 2011 with the horror title Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and thechineseroom, which established itself earlier this year with the semi-surprising success of Dear Esther, as studios that have become viable without relying on the conventional developer/publisher/consumer dynamic. First-person perspective notwithstanding, the three games have almost nothing in common aside from being low-cost PC exclusives aimed at niche audiences, and yet while none of them are putting up Call of Duty-like numbers, all three are relatively big successes that have made their respective studios profitable, long-term enterprises. I can't help but think that there's something to be learned in that.