We Happy Few, the game about getting high and being happy in a not-quite-right alt-'60s England, has been available on Steam Early Access and GOG In Development (opens in new tab) for more than a year now. Full release is coming next year, Gearbox Publishing announced today, on April 13, 2018. But the good news of the launch date comes the bad news of a price hike, which in this case has seen the cost double from $30 to $60.
Anyone who purchased We Happy Few prior to the increase will get the standard edition of the game, and the "Jolly Brolly" parasol weapon preorder bonus, for no extra cost. Tier 1 Kickstarter backers will also get the standard edition (but no preorder bonus), while Tier 2 (and higher) backers will get the preorder bonus and the season pass. (Yes, there will be one of those.) At Tier 10 and higher, all the physical swag included with the $150 Collector's Set will also be thrown in.
The price increase is a kick in the knackers, but developer Compulsion Games said in a lengthy statement that it reflects an increase in the game's scope, from a small "roguelite" to a "full sized, retail game"—which is why it's going to stay in early access for so long.
"The stories of our three characters were rewritten, the quality of our encounters and world has been dramatically increased (that’s what the Clockwork Update was all about - refactoring to make sure we could begin to deliver on that increased quality), and the remnants of that little sandbox game at PAX 2015 were slowly overtaken by a much larger, story-driven experience," Compulsion said.
"To do this, we sought additional funding, based on the enthusiasm showed by everyone at E3, and grew the team to make the game you wanted. We’re now a fantastic team of 40 people, up from the ~10 we were at PAX. The game that we’re planning to ship in April is roughly 2.5x the size of the Life in Technicolour Update (which has just gone live)in terms of pure content, and we’re confident that we will meet the quality and scope expectations that you guys have."
The studio also addressed what it apparently sees as the inevitable complaints about DLC and the season pass, pointing out that months will pass between "content lock" and the actual release of the game—a period when a significant part of the team, including designers, artists, and animators, have nothing to do.
"DLC for us is not 'carving out existing content'; it’s building new content that we wouldn’t have been able to do as part of the main game," it explained. "It’s risky, because now that we’ve announced it we’ve committed to it. It’s our first time doing it, so maybe in a year we’ll have a different opinion. In the meantime, once work on the game finishes up, we’ll have a bit of a rest, and then dive into the wacky world of DLC."
Risky it may be, but I think the price increase is the real roll of the dice here, at least in the short term. Come early next year, the price will probably seem unremarkable to people hearing about We Happy Few for the first time, but for right now it's bound to be a stinger—although full credit to Compulsion for being open and up-front about it. Find out more at wehappyfewgame.com.