Oddworld: Soulstorm developer lead Oddworld Inhabitants expresses his frustration with the game’s launch on PS Plus, calling it “devastating”.
PlayStation Plus is basically Sony’s answer to Xbox Game Pass. PS Plus gives subscribers two free games per month and can significantly help small and medium-sized studios that may not have the marketing budget to release their games. However, not all studios benefit from the arrangement, as Oddworld: Soulstorm illustrated.
According to studio head Lorne Lanning, the deal was obviously a disaster for Oddworld developer Inhabitants. He described the decision to bring Oddworld: Soulstorm to PS Plus as “devastating”, costing the studio a significant amount of money.
Lanning recently went on the Xbox Expansion Pass Podcast. During the interview, he explained how the studio lost tens of millions of dollars due to the PS Plus deal. According to Lanning, Oddworld Inhabitants suffered financial difficulties for Oddworld: Soulstormdevelopment. The studio agreed to offer the game free for one month via PlayStation plus in exchange for an undisclosed sum. The inhabitants of Oddworld have negotiated the payment in the meantime storm soul sell between 50,000 and 100,000 copies at launch. However, it eventually moved over 4 million units in the month it was free with PlayStation Plus.
The COVID-19 pandemic has played a significant role in the problem. The outbreak has forced developers to work from home, pushing the release of Oddworld: Soulstorm back to April 2021. While COVID delays were common during this time, it also meant the PS5 had been on the market for another three months. This allowed the game to have many more potential PS5 players than either Sony or Oddworld Inhabitants expected during their negotiations. As a result, Oddworld: Soulstorm saw more than 40 times more sales than the developer’s most optimistic estimate. That would usually be fantastic, but in this case it meant the studio lost a staggering amount of money.
You could argue that this situation wasn’t really PS Plus’s fault. Developers have vastly underestimated Soulstorm’s popularity, and no one at the time could have predicted the impact of COVID-19. There is also no guarantee that Oddworld: Soulstorm would have been so successful if the developer had released it at full price. However, it’s understandable that Lanning was more than a little frustrated with this turn of events.
It is unknown how these events will influence the inhabitants of Oddworld from now on. However, it might be a while before the studio plans to work with PS Plus again. Whether that means it will stay away from Xbox Game Pass as well is anyone’s guess. Lanning did not say if or how the circumstances of Oddworld: Soulstorm’s the release could impact the studio’s decision-making. However, it would be surprising if this did not become a concern in the future.
Oddworld: Soulstorm is available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.
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