Outriders developer People Can Fly says it doesn’t know how many copies the game has sold, and hasn’t earned any royalties from the game, suggesting it hasn’t yet been profitable for publisher Square Enix.
Announced on the developer’s investor website, People Can Fly explained that the agreement with Square Enix meant it would receive any royalties for the game’s first quarter on sale by August 16, 2021. No funds were transferred, which People Can Fly suggests means that, “according to the Publisher, the revenues from the sale of the game are lower than the total costs of its production (including Quality Assurance), distribution and promotion.”
People Can Fly executive Sebastian Wojciechowski (per a machine translation) added that the company had no firm data for copies sold: “We don’t have any sales figures for Outriders – we estimate it at between 2 and 3 million units and assumed that this was a result that would ensure profitability for this project in the first quarter of sales. The lack of payment by the Publisher probably means that, according to Square Enix, this is not the case.”
Wojciechowski also suggests that a lack of profitability could be caused by the publisher, including distribution partnerships (the game was launched into Xbox Game Pass, for example), or that Square Enix spent more than expected on releasing the game. It wouldn’t be a unique situation for Square Enix – last year, the publisher announced that Marvel’s Avengers had failed to recoup its development costs a few months after launch.
Wojciechowski added that the game was still being worked on, People Can Fly expects more promotional work from Square Enix, and that “the sales tail of the Outriders game is ahead of us.” As a result, the company expects royalties to begin later this year. We’ve contacted Square Enix for comment.
People Can Fly is currently working on new games for both Square Enix and Take-Two, but Wojciechowski says a third new game is in the planning stages, with the developer intending to self-publish it. That seems to come down, in part, to situations like that of Outriders:
“Working with the Publisher has many advantages, but also its disadvantages,” Wojciechowski explained, “one of them is the low impact of [People Can Fly] on sales activities and the incompleteness or – as in this case – the lack of data obtained from the Publisher in this regard. This is one of the reasons why, apart from working with Publishers, we have decided to develop projects whose IP will remain the property of the Company and which will be published by the Company.”
Outriders was launched in April, and we gave it a 7/10 review, saying that its “blend of wickedly fun sci-fi shooting & looting is well worth enduring its lackluster story and rough edges.” In its first month, it passed 3.5 million players, but it’s unknown how many of those players acquired the game through a Game Pass subscription, as opposed to a regular sale.