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November 11th, 2017, 09:52
Official word is that PB has a burn rate of 160k€ per month. Or was it 140k? Elex took 3.5 years to make. Then add loca, marketing, distribution and console tax.

So 5.5M$ can't even be close.
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November 11th, 2017, 11:05
Originally Posted by Damian View Post
I think if they toned down the difficulty of the start, it would be a betrayal of their long time fans and Bjorn in that twitch stream with Gamasutra said they didnt want to do that.

As for the total sales, Risen 3 sold 90k total on MS Windows(physical copies) according to VG Chartz, another 150k on consoles but I cant get steam sales on Risen 3. So Risen 3 has about 250k sales excluding Steam and GoG. Elex already has more reviews on Steam than Risen 3 even though IIRC you dont even have to own the game on Steam to make the review back then. So the likelihood of Elex selling over a million overall is pretty much guaranteed. I think they would be very happy with that.
Steamspy says 500k for Risen 3. If Elex only sells 150k, it is a major flop for PB…
This is likely to put them at risk.
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November 11th, 2017, 12:43
Originally Posted by Damian View Post
It shouldnt be too much more than the cost of Risen 3 if it indeed costs more at all. Risen 3 took 3 an a bit years to make and Elex took 2 and a bit.
This is not correct. Elex took the same "3 an a bit" because Risen 3 came out in August 2014 and Elex on 10/17/2017.

With regard to the sales numbers they are pretty good compared to Risen 2 and 3 as far as I can tell. Both latter Risens took much longer to reach the 100K barrier (they only crossed it months after release when the games went on sale).

There is no reason why GOG should be a super-popular choice in Elex' case so the ratio is probably about 80% Steam vs. 20% GOG at best.

As for platforms, Elex as a PB game is especially popular in Germany and Eastern Europe which are still PC strongholds as well as PS4 territory. I would guess at a rough platform distribution of about 50% PC, 35% PS4 and 15% Xbone.

Every PC retail copy appears on Steam since it is tied to Steam.

So my uneducated guess based on this kitchen math would be:

- 110K PC owners on Steam (includes retail)
- plus another 25K to 30K on GOG
- plus a negligible amount of copies on Origin
- plus another 100K to 150K console copies

So, yes, we are probably somewhere between 200K and 300K copies at the moment. If you deduct all the usual costs and expenses like Valve's 30% cut for digital copies or the distribution costs, retailer margins for the retail copies etc. then THQ Nordic should receive approximately $25 for every copy sold, i.e. they most likely raked in $5 to $7 million up to now.

The budget for Elex is anyone's guess but I would put it just about in that range… it was probably somewhere between €6 million to €8 million. My guess is that they might have had less than for the Risens and were not able to do as much outsourcing as in the past.
Björn Pankratz even did the music himself this time (plus vision keeping, project management, story, writing, game/audio/sound design etc.). His wife also worked on the game and contributed story, writing and game design.
This means is has most likely broken even already or even made a small profit so far.

Anyway, all of this is pretty moot since Elex 2 has already been confirmed. The only difference between a very successful Elex 1 and a less successful Elex 1 is probably just how generous THQ Nordic is going to be with the budget and whether the Pankratz family is going to have to make "half the game" all by themselves again or whether they can outsource more work again for the next one (like getting higher quality cutscenes made or better animations etc.).
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November 11th, 2017, 12:53
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
Steamspy says 500k for Risen 3. If Elex only sells 150k, it is a major flop for PB…
This is likely to put them at risk.
These 500K are lifetime sales and owners of the game. The Risen series has been sold in the form of bundles (up to $1 bundles for Risen 2) on Humble, Bundle Stars etc. dozens upon dozens of times.

I monitored the Risen 3 numbers for a while after launch, and when it was selling at full price, it sat at 60K to 80K owners for a long, long time. It is a safe bet that the vast majority of those 500K Risen 3 copies are $5 to $10 sales.

Elex is already vastly more successful in terms of sales than Risen 3 was and will probably far surpass those 500K owners in 3+ years from now.
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November 11th, 2017, 17:21
Originally Posted by Gorath View Post
Official word is that PB has a burn rate of 160k€ per month. Or was it 140k? Elex took 3.5 years to make. Then add loca, marketing, distribution and console tax.

So 5.5M$ can't even be close.
Can you link the official word of PB's burn rate? For a 60 hour week of 29 people, it would mean everyone there got 80 Euro per hour per month.
Last edited by Damian; November 11th, 2017 at 18:47.
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November 11th, 2017, 19:04
Originally Posted by Moriendor View Post
This is not correct. Elex took the same "3 an a bit" because Risen 3 came out in August 2014 and Elex on 10/17/2017.
My bad, I was taking the "enhanced edition" of risen for the PS4. So Risen 3 took 2 and something years and Elex took 3 and something years.


Every PC retail copy appears on Steam since it is tied to Steam.
Do you have any sources for this, none of the sites with the requirements says you need steam for it?
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November 11th, 2017, 19:14
Originally Posted by Damian View Post
Can you link the official word of PB's burn rate? For a 60 hour week of 29 people, it would mean everyone there got 80 Euro per hour per month.
The salary of people is only a part of the burn rate. There are other costs like office space, insurances, IT, taxes and a load of other things. Besides that I don’t think they do 60 hours a week, but more likely 40 hours a week and probably not all 29 are full-time employed. I believe Moriendor pointed out in another thread that PB mentioned not to do any overtime and crunch time.
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November 11th, 2017, 20:02
Originally Posted by Damian View Post
Do you have any sources for this, none of the sites with the requirements says you need steam for it?
If you look around on Amazon, you will notice that barely any game mentions the Steam requirement anymore even if the retail is tied to Steam. It's the same for Elex. If you must have a source then here's a German newsbit about it.

And the link for PB's 140K/month burn rate is here. Pankratz said literally that a "shack" (in his Ruhrpott German ) like Piranha Bytes costs €140,000/month with a head count of 27 employees.

He did not specify whether this is only employee costs or the gross costs for running the gig but from the context of the question I think it was the latter because he was asked about crowdfunding and it seemed like he gave the fixed base costs of running the whole company in his reply.

They definitely have higher expenses when they are working with a publisher on a project like Elex, i.e. if you factor in the outsourcing, the freelancers etc.
He was referring to the bare minimum costs of just keeping the lights on and the 27 guys and gals employed. That's what the 140K is about.
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November 11th, 2017, 20:03
Originally Posted by Damian View Post
Can you link the official word of PB's burn rate? For a 60 hour week of 29 people, it would mean everyone there got 80 Euro per hour per month.
Björn mentioned their burn rate in the Gamestar stream close to release. He is a shareholder, so he should know.

He said PB no longer does 60 hour weeks and long crunches. Nowadays they even insist their people take all their extra hours off later.
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November 11th, 2017, 21:44
And from what I heard, THQNordic is one of the "good guys" in publishing. Apparently they publish a lot of odd and creative games and passion projects. So by confirming ELEX 2, they must really believe in PB and what they are doing with ELEX. So I take that as a great sign.

PB also got a grant from a European arts group (?) for I think 150,000 Euro. So that's cool, too.

Thanks for the info, @Moriendor!
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November 11th, 2017, 22:28
Originally Posted by Fluent View Post
Hey man, I'm with you! Please read my "solutions" and see if you agree.

Although I will stay far, far away from the retraining camp, thank you.

Oh, I think the part you mention about it being so different is an important one, too, because gamers likely have a certain idea of how it SHOULD play when they go in. I.e., the game is a 3rd person action RPG, open-world, you fight monsters, do quests, okay, good, got it! Then they go in and die in the tutorial.

So that is what leads me to believe that better in-game tutorials could go a long way to at least give newbies a chance to possibly enjoy the game, rather than it becoming a quick refund and negative review…
Indeed, education in a form of proper turorials could be the key for piranha bytes. I think people have forgotten how to play these kind of games. When a videogame is labeled as an action rpg, it is often expected that it can be cruised through. The staggering ammount of handholding most videogames contain these days have taught gamers wrong kind of responses. If game doesn't give in or say what to do, they begin thinking that the game is some way broken instead of thinking what am I doing wrong.
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November 11th, 2017, 22:34
Originally Posted by Fluent View Post
PB also got a grant from a European arts group (?) for I think 150,000 Euro. So that's cool, too.
Yes. In absence of any official announcement, that is exactly how the existence of a project called 'Elex 2' was confirmed/leaked (thanks, EU ).
The news story originated here and it includes a screenshot from the European Union PDF doc (which is also publicly available). AWins GmbH is a Pluto 13/PB daughter company.

However, cheeky ole Björn was quick to point out in another German interview at around launch that, yes, they have pitched a new project but that Elex 2 is not to be considered a certainty.

Well, I guess he simply has to say this before the game is officially announced.
So, given this little caveat we could say that Elex 2 is only about 99.999997% confirmed .
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November 11th, 2017, 22:38
Originally Posted by Dez View Post
I think these guys have become so used to winning in games that they become frustrated when you just can't do that.
loading…
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November 11th, 2017, 23:07
Thanks for the info guys. 140k a month for 3 years and 3 months is 5.5 million Euro still. It seems my estimates came out to more than what PB really uses a month(I estimated the use 180k a month). I made a mistake thinking the 140k Euro was per week.

EDIT: But that is purely for the German version and no marketing. But considering how poor the translations are and how little marketing there is for the game, it surely cant add another 1 million on top of that? I guess we will only know when THQ Nordic says something.
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November 12th, 2017, 01:09
Originally Posted by Damian View Post
Thanks for the info guys. 140k a month for 3 years and 3 months is 5.5 million Euro still. It seems my estimates came out to more than what PB really uses a month(I estimated the use 180k a month). I made a mistake thinking the 140k Euro was per week.

EDIT: But that is purely for the German version and no marketing. But considering how poor the translations are and how little marketing there is for the game, it surely cant add another 1 million on top of that? I guess we will only know when THQ Nordic says something.
Add probably 3 million for marketing and interest (that's cheap - often marketing exceeds other development costs and you just can't avoid interest costs aka present value of monies spent over a 3.25 year time) -- then convert the 5.5 Euros to 6.4 million dollars for a total dollar cost of approx 9-10 million dollars -- or there about…

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November 12th, 2017, 02:01
I would be shocked if their marketing budget was anywhere near $3 million. I don't know details but that seems very high for a project like ELEX.

@Moriendor seems to know a lot about them. Any ideas on that, Moriendor?
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November 12th, 2017, 02:03
Originally Posted by Dez View Post
Indeed, education in a form of proper turorials could be the key for piranha bytes. I think people have forgotten how to play these kind of games. When a videogame is labeled as an action rpg, it is often expected that it can be cruised through. The staggering ammount of handholding most videogames contain these days have taught gamers wrong kind of responses. If game doesn't give in or say what to do, they begin thinking that the game is some way broken instead of thinking what am I doing wrong.
Yeah, that's what I was getting at. Glad you agree!

There is evidence of that, too, like the IGN reviewer who said it took him 2 hours to defeat a "boss" because his strikes were barely doing any damage. I don't mention that to shame or diss the reviewer, but it's clear there is a lack of understanding from even professional game reviewers on how ELEX and other PB games actually work. Education could really help there.
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November 12th, 2017, 02:13
Don't forget the console tax. 100k retail copies on consoles should costs ca. 1M€. In advance.
Translation is cheap, but voice actors aren't. So full voice overs in a couple of languages should also be a few hundred k.
Marketing also includes trade shows - VERY expensive - and press junkets.
And there's also a lot of outsourcing which goes extra.

My guess would be the project costs THQ Nordic ca. 10-12M€, which has to be recouped before PB makes royalties (in a classic publisher-developer model). Elex 2 could be significantly cheaper though due to recycled assets, tech and game mechanics.

For comparison:
Deck 13 had 60-70 people on The Surge. They said their game has to pass the 1M units mark within reasonable time to be considered a success. This means while the game still costs more than a certain amount in the shops. They also said initial sales were better than expected and the game was on track, as of a couple of months ago.
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November 12th, 2017, 03:42
Originally Posted by Gorath View Post
For comparison:

Deck 13 had 60-70 people on The Surge. They said their game has to pass the 1M units mark within reasonable time to be considered a success. This means while the game still costs more than a certain amount in the shops. They also said initial sales were better than expected and the game was on track, as of a couple of months ago.
This is really making me wonder about the accuracy of SteamSpy in this specific case. SteamSpy is generally supposed to be fairly accurate (also according to devs) but that may not be the case with The Surge(?).

According to SteamSpy, they only have 86K owners of the game on Steam so quite a bit less than Elex, even though The Surge came out in May already. Did they really sell that much more on consoles? One million copies seems far, far away…

As for Elex marketing, it was probably pretty inexpensive except for the Gamescom presentations. The rest was mostly YouTube Let's Plays and dozens of interviews with Björn on various YT channels and gaming sites. Then a couple of short non-fancy, rather simplistic trailers, some screenshots and that was pretty much it.

It seems to me that THQ/Nordic is relying more on social media and word of mouth than huge ad campaigns etc. - They also seem to have deliberately assigned the job to PB themselves instead of having their producer or a marketing clown do most of the talking.

I can only remember two presentations or so where anyone from THQ Nordic was even present. Everything else was all Björn himself, soloing the marketing "campaign" or sometimes with his wife Jenny at his side but she gave birth to a baby recently so that's why we haven't seen her much since Gamescom .
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November 12th, 2017, 04:20
Bjorn and Jenny's baby, i.e. the Last RPG Developer Jedi!

I think it would be cool to work with PB on their games. For a developer that is 20 years deep in the industry they really have stuck to their guns. Most developers are either out of business by that time or have been bought by EA. It's cool to see PB still doing their thing and doing it their own way.

If I had some sort of technical skills to offer I'd inquire about a job. Until then I guess it's an ELEX Let's Play on YouTube for me and random online admiration for the work they're doing.
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