Developer Ninja Theory’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, a PlayStation 4 and PCgame that tackles mental health issues, has passed 500,000 sales in its first three months. The studio announced this on Twitter, also confirming that this makes the game profitable. Sales at this level, this fast, are ahead of Ninja Theory’s expectations.
To mark the occasion, Ninja Theory released an in-depth video in which key people from the UK studio discuss the game’s unique development process. For one, the studio said it was worried that Hellblade’s subject matter would be very controversial and overshadow what the team hoped to achieve. The studio did considerable research into mental health issues, and the game was praised for how it handled the incredibly sensitive subject.
What wasn’t so great for Hellblade were the bugs that players encountered, some of which prevented them from progressing. Ninja Theory released patches that fixed these bugs, and management says in the video above that basically all press is good press, because these issues got people talking and that led to more sales.
Overall, the studio says it was trying to make a game that exists between indie and AAA, and it worked. The game moved 250,000 copies in its first week. Also helping the game reach an audience was its $30 price point, which is about half of what you could expect to pay for a AAA game.
Here are some other key takeaways from the video:
- Hellblade has already brought in $13 million in revenue, and sales continue to be steady.
- They weren’t expecting to break even for nine months but instead did it in three.
- The game was funded in part by loans, grants, and Ninja Theory’s own coffers; they also received tax breaks.
- Ninja Theory owns the Hellblade IP, which meant that they controlled the key creative and commercial decisions.
- 75,000 people pre-ordered Hellblade; and some of that money went into a digitally focused marketing campaign.
- No new Hellblade games have been announced, but Ninja Theory says it wants the franchise’s legacy to live on.
GameSpot’s Hellblade review scored it an 8/10. Reviewer Alessandro Fillari said, “Hellblade’s most notable achievement is the handling of an incredibly sensitive subject matter within an engaging and well-crafted action/adventure game. At its heart, the story is about Senua’s struggle to come to terms with her illness. In the process, she learns to find the strength within herself to endure, and to make peace with her past. And in a profound and physical way, we go through those same struggles with her, and come away with a better understanding of a piece of something that many people in the world struggle with.”