This past March marked Space Budgie’s third year as a studio. And what an incredible three years it’s been. Looking back, it’s crazy just how fast the industry has changed around us, and how we managed to achieve what we did in such an uncertain commercial landscape.
Over the course of these three years, as a studio we looked to make games that were more than just entertainment alone. Collectively, our vision was about tackling unexplored and difficult topics through play.
With very few exceptions, we can confidently say that this vision was achieved with all of our work. On a creative level, both 9.03m and Glitchspace achieved this goal in their own unique ways and then some.
Commercially however, Space Budgie has also always existed on the fringes of financial sustainability. With Glitchspace in particular, this was a game that took us three years to make. As a result, you can begin to appreciate the sort of implications that a protracted development cycle like this game had can have.
Admittedly, it can be difficult to go in depth about money or sales for something like this. Not because we can’t, but more importantly it’s not how we measured our success, and it’s certainly not what we want Space Budgie to be remembered for. However, as it does affect our future, and as a big believer in transparency, it’s certainly something that we can at least touch bases on.
Long story short, Glitchspace didn’t have the sort of return that we were anticipating. Since its release back in May, the game has just sold over 4,500 copies. Even that figure includes the sales and at this rate, we won’t break even on our development costs.
With three years of development behind it, you can see how the budget for a game like this can quickly bloat. And whilst Glitchspace sold over 9000 copies in early access, the majority of that was achieved at much lower price points and all of that money was fed back into development.
Partly as a result of all of this, Space Budgie will no longer be making any games and we’ve decided to close our doors.
This was a really difficult decision to make. We consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have been in a position of making original work in such a challenging market. And whilst our vision may not have translated into a commercially viable studio, it most certainly provided us with a set of games that we can be enormously proud of.
Overall though, we want to stress that this decision is not a disaster. Yes we didn’t make a lot of money. But for over three years we were able to make the games that we wanted to make, on our own terms and with our own creative vision. That is a huge achievement in itself and something that we’ll always be able to look fondly back on.
Admittedly, we have never been interested in having Space Budgie purely as a money making machine. For us it has always been about producing creatively engaging work that could be enjoyed and learned from by others.
On the other hand, our experiences demonstrate that trying to juggle a creative vision with paying rent is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges in independent games development. In some ways, balancing this sort of autonomy with money can feel mutually exclusive. Perhaps this is a subject that we’ll delve into further someday, and the sort of financial implications that this can bring. Ultimately for us, this raised the question of having to live game to game. And thinking long term, that’s just not a sustainable way to live.
It’s certainly the case that the outlined commercial performance of Glitchspace was a factor in this change. However, the game selling poorly was not the only reason. In fact, this was a decision that we collectively made some months ago for a multitude of reasons. This includes wider commercial pressures; uncertainty, market saturation and a desire to pursue other independent interests as examples. There were possibly ways for Space Budgie to continue, but as the numbers came in, it felt like it was the right time for us all to move on.
And that brings us to where we’re all at now!
As for the company itself, Space Budgie isn’t being dissolved, and our games will still be available to buy. Overall, it’s very likely that you’ll still see us kicking around in games development in our own ways too.
A special thanks has to go out to Gaz and Ian for helping us out on the tech side, and for when the going got tough. It would’ve been an even bigger struggle without their support, let alone in finishing Glitchspace.
This might seem like a sad day, but we leave Space Budgie with a bunch of rewarding takeaways and memories. We won and were nominated for a bunch of awards, and had our games shown in a variety of festivals, museums and exhibits. Glitchspace was even used in schools! Most importantly though, we made games that were played by people all over the world, whilst pursuing a uniquely bold creative vision: tackling unexplored and difficult topics through play.
Thanks to everyone who ever played our games and helped us out along the way. In big or small moves, you helped make our vision a reality. Achieving that will always be our biggest success from all of this.