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Why Hellblade doesn't need a $3M sales figure to justify its existence


Ninja Theory, developers of the upcoming Hellblade, released another development dairy which focuses on the business side of the game. As I've stated before, I am a big fan of Hellblade and its creators. I like Ninja Theory because they have the guts to develop a game exactly according to their passion, even though it might only appeal to a niche audience. It's not firstly about the sales figures, but about delivering a unique game, filled with art and wonder, and which is a true mirror of the vision they carry in their hearts.

"We believe there's a third way to develop and distribute games. Neither AAA nor Indie. Where games can take creative risks, can be made for a smaller audience, but still strive for AAA quality. And this is what Hellblade is all about."

Tameen Antoniades, Chief Creative Director for Hellblade, explains that like many niche games, Hellblade's focus is not "go big or go home". It doesn't need a $3 million sales figure to justify its existence. In order for Ninja Theory to create such an exceptionally unique game, they had to be completely independent, and completely free of pressure to produce something that would qualify as appealing to the masses.

Digital distribution and advanced creative tools make it possible for Ninja Theory to deliver an AAA looking game on a small budget. Up until a few years ago this would've been impossible. According to Ninja Theory they fall in that space between AAA and Indie, which allow them to:

  1. Deliver AAA quality
  2. Offer the game at a lower and more flexible price
  3. Have creative ownership
  4. To freedom to self-publish
  5. Make use of digital distribution
  6. Have a direct relationship with the players

Ninja Theory is not new to the video game industry, they've produces the acclaimed Heavenly Sword and DmC: Devil May Cry. Hellblade is their first game that's being developed under the "Independent AAA" banner.

Hellblade is not a game that will attempt to be "all things to all people." It's about what Ninja Theory feels passionate about, and I applaud them for that. Antoniades explains: "Hellblade isn't about world domination, it's about pushing ourselves creatively to make the kinds of games we feel strongly about. Hopefully, to find an audience who'll want to play our games, and if in the process we could earn a good living from it we'll have hit the sweet spot."

Ninja Theory's small budget, but AAA vision have forced them to be extremely inventive. They have had to rethink and recreate many of the tools used to make visually striking games. They have made their invention available to independent developers and universities. How's that for going out of your way to promoting video game development!

Hellblade will open its dark gates to players for testing. Ninja Theory will allow early access to players for feedback and play testing. More details on that to follow. Explore more of Hellblade with me in "Hellblade's female lead - a character of beauty, anger and history" and "Explore the radically different world of Hellblade."

Give me a unique game like Hellblade any day over a generic AAA blockbuster. What say you?

Hellblade will release on the PlayStation 4 first, with other platforms to follow. No release date has yet been confirmed.


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