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The problems with being a console launch title

The problems with being a console launch title

August 20, 2013 | By Mike Rose

August 20, 2013 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing, GDC Europe

Although being a launch title for the Nintendo Wii U secured Chasing Aurora plenty of press coverage, the team behind the title now wish that they had waited a few extra months before releasing the game.

The Broken Rules team was working on a flight exploration game called Secrets of Raetikon when Nintendo asked them if they'd be up for creating a launch title for the Wii U.

Felix Bohatsch and his team had previously been working on a multiplayer prototype based on Raetikon, and decided that the Wii U GamePad would work great with this prototype. This eventually became Chasing Aurora, and was released at Wii U launch after just five months of development.

But in a postmortem at GDC Europe today, Bohatsch admitted that releasing the game at the Wii U launch had bad points alongside the good.

"There is a lot of press coverage for launch games," he said. "As there aren't that many games around at the start, your game will be covered on every major gaming site."

Yet despite the huge amount of press that Chasing Aurora received, the game didn't get a sales spike at launch at all -- in fact sales of the game at launch were around the same as sales throughout the game's life.

That was even with a lengthy feature on the eShop storefront. As it turns out, the majority of people who bought a Wii U at launch were so focused on playing the larger retail games, that Chasing Aurora didn't get a massive look-in.

Notably, Bohatsch said that "people thought $15 was pricey" for a downloadable title, especially after they had bought a couple of big retail titles.

In hindsight, the Broken Rules team now wishes that it had spent a couple more months working on the game to polish it up more. "We rushed Chasing Aurora for release," admitted Bohatsch. "It would have been a better game with one or two extra months of development."

And he reckons that if they had launched a couple of months after the Wii U launch, the game may have even received more downloads at release as a result.

He reasoned that a couple of months after the Wii U launch, gamers had exhausted the larger games, and were now looking for smaller downloadable games to grab. Therefore releasing during the launch window, rather than on launch day, would have probably been more beneficial.

Notably Secrets of Raetikon, the larger game that Chasing Aurora was based on, will not be coming to Wii U when the game launches later this year. Bohatsch says that looking back, the team now regrets launching on Wii U exclusively and using the Wii U GamePad features so heavily, since it made porting the game to other platforms impossible.

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