In 2012, the then newly formed Stoic Studio—a trio of former BioWare devs—asked would-be Kickstarter backers for $100,000 to make a lovely-looking single-player tactical RPG named The Banner Saga. Interest poured in and prospective players successfully funded the project to the tune of $723,886—a figure which in turn forced Stoic to expand the scope of its original idea. Stoic did, and its game was well received.
With The Banner Saga's sequel—the second of a planned trilogy—Stoic decided to sidestep crowdfunding and work behind closed doors, safe in the assumption that interested players would return down the line to resume the game's ongoing tale.
"Let's just close the doors, close the curtains, spend our own money and do it our own way, without having to answer to anybody. And that's what we did," Stoic's co-founder and technical director John Watson tells gamesindustry.biz. "About halfway through, when the money starts getting tight, we started thinking, 'why the hell didn't we get a Kickstarter?'
"I think we dropped the ball there. We thought that audience would still just be there. We really neglected our community during the development of Banner Saga 2, because we were focusing on our work. I think that was a mistake. We all agree that was a mistake."
To this end, after landing last April The Banner Saga 2 sold just a third of what its forerunner managed to shift in its first few months on Steam. Watson does however note that while the first game launched alongside 70 or so titles, the sequel was competing against over 400 which may be partly responsible for the slump, yet he is however cautious to blame external factors absolutely.
Moving forward, Watson highlights the fact the launch of The Banner Saga 2 boosted sales of The Banner Saga—something he and his team hope reoccurs upon the release of the third game.
"If you look at The Banner Saga as a franchise—all the platforms and both the games - it's generating about the same revenue," adds Watson. "It's like building a wedge. Banner Saga 3 might sell a third of what Banner Saga 2 did, but it should lift up the other games. That's what we're betting on."
John Watson's interview can be read in full over on gamesindustry.biz.