Five years have passed since registering our company and here I collected our highlights of that time and what we’ve planned for the next 5 years.
It was the 20th of April 2018 when Sebastian and I went to the trade office to found our company. At that time I worked alone on our projects for ~5 years and way more years before that with changing people, including Sebastian as part of our modding team. Early in 2018 I was close to the release of Elemental War and so I had to found the company and Sebastian joined me even though he had another own company already.
Since then time passed even faster. We launched Elemental War into Steam Early Access in October 2018, our first commercial release ever. Before that we launched several Gothic 2 modifications and our launcher Spine, but those of course never had any commercial intend. So it was quite a new experience for me personally.
Early Access was an interesting experience as we got good feedback and got in touch with our players. Then in July 2019 we had our final release, which was good, but also not overwhelming.
During early access I also applied for console partnership so we could develop for Xbox and PlayStation as well as Switch. We got that approval which was a huge highlight for me again because not everybody can release on consoles and we as a new studio got that chance. Well, I then tried out Elemental War on Xbox and the results were devastating. Performance was so bad, it took me around a year to bring it on today’s level with major refactoring (and working on Tri6: Infinite already on the side). Meanwhile we also applied for funding for two games which we sadly didn’t get.
As already mentioned, while working on the console versions we also already worked on Tri6: Infinite. It had a way smaller scope than Elemental War to have less problems to break even. We finished the game and launched it in July 2020. It was actually my birthday and a pretty bad decision to launch there. For some unknown reason we got way less impressions and so clicks on Steam compared to Elemental War, never reached the 10 reviews (not even today, almost 3 years after launch!) and sales were super bad. It was a really devastating moment and at that point I was super frustrated and thought about shutting the company down.
But luckily I didn’t. A few months later we were able to finally launch Elemental War on Xbox. That was in December 2020 and that almost doubled our total sales within a month. Sadly Tri6: Infinite never got approved for ID@Xbox release for some unknown reason, so that stayed or worst project.
Anyway, given that huge success (for us) we decided to go with Elemental War 2 next. The goal there was to improve on the mechanics, strip all the additional bloat we had in Elemental War that nobody really cared about or we didn’t like anymore and make an overall better game. So in January 2021 we kicked off development of Elemental War while on the side porting Elemental War and Tri6: Infinite to consoles.
Then 2021 was our big porting year. We started with Tri6: Infinite on Nintendo Switch and that turned out to be very successful. Of course Tri6: Infinite was a perfect fit for the Switch and I always had that in mind during initial development, but the sales there did prove that I was right. Shortly after we launched Tri6: Infinite on PlayStation 4 and a little later also Elemental War for PlayStation 4. While Elemental War didn’t sell too good on PS4, Tri6: Infinite actually did.
Our learning after that year which already started with the Elemental War launch on Xbox was that consoles are the place where we can succeed way easier than on Steam. That also was an important learning for the development of Elemental War 2. While for Elemental War the console version got controller support added later on and simulates the mouse and stuff like that, for Elemental War 2 we designed everything with controller in mind so it is on the same level as mouse & keyboard controls.
2021 another for us very good thing happened: We got approved as Stadia partner and that turned out to be the most important piece of our current success story.
In 2022 we then launched Elemental War 2. The first time ever we launched on all platforms at once, that means Steam, Humble Store, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4 & 5 and Stadia. Given that I did the whole development (except for graphics and audio) alone that was quite a hassle. But while Elemental War and Tri6: Infinite took around 2 years to break even Elemental War 2 did so with the first month sales. And as it sold better on Stadia than on Steam we thought it would be a good idea to port our other games to Stadia as well for some additional revenue while working on CyberTD.
So 2022 we started with the CyberTD development in February or March (don’t quite remember) while finalizing Elemental War 2 and waiting for our funding approval for Tri6: Arena, the successor to Tri6: Infinite. We got the approval and then worked on the concept for Tri6: Arena for quite a while while also releasing and updating Elemental War 2, doing at least some work for CyberTD and porting the old games to Stadia, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S (because why just Stadia if we’re anyway working on them again, right?).
Then it was time to launch the ports. Tri6: Infinite was done earlier, so we launched it on Stadia (even Stadia Pro) and PlayStation 5 in September and just a few weeks later Stadia announced their shutdown. At that time Elemental War for Stadia also was done already and in certification and we were shocked first due to the wasted time. Luckily it turned out we got some compensation and that was a pretty nice amount of money for us (even though we would’ve earned it anyway if they didn’t had to shut down, well, even more than that in the future).
Through the Stadia community the Stadia version of Tri6: Infinite even won the Cloud game of the year 2022 award of Next Generation Gaming which we are super proud of. Especially as the PC version was already nominated for best audio and best developer at GDD Indie Game Awards 2021 and didn’t get the awards in the end.
Given that we were able to hire our first employee to help with development, move into an office and are still looking for another employee. We also participated in our first conventions now and will do a few more in the next months and years.
At the moment we’re in the final steps of development of CyberTD and will soon participate in several events (hopefully) and also have a demo for you. We’re also trying to get prototype funding for Tri6: Arena to realize our pretty cool concept and make it the game it deserves to be. And of course Elemental War 2 on Switch will release in just a few weeks. Didn’t mention it before because I actually forgot, but that was quite a challenge as well.
So, as we arrived in the present now, what about the next five years?
Of course we have a lot of plans and as usual a lot depends on the funding we get, either through some external funding like FFF Bavaria or the BMVI or as revenue from sales and platform deals. So far we almost only relied on our games revenue and haven’t reached super high numbers yet, so we have a lot of room for improvements here.
For this year our goal is to release CyberTD and get a bunch of the Tri6: Arena prototype done. Tri6: Arena is at the moment scheduled for release next year and we’ll keep you posted as soon as there are some informations.
We also want to check out the VR market with a first game, but that won’t be ready before next year and also depends on time constraints as it has no big priority at the moment. And we also want to start providing a porting and publishing service for consoles as we built up quite some experience there over the last years and especially small teams and solo devs can have a very hard time getting on there, porting their games and passing cert.
Another big goal for us is to come back to the cloud. We had a very good experience developing for Stadia – especially with the Stadia community – and are still in touch with many of them. At the moment we have no games in any cloud, but we’re constantly reaching out to some of the platform holders to find a way on at least some of them. It’s never easy for small devs as we tend to get ignored, but luckily that doesn’t hold us back from trying over and over again.
If we have the funding for it we’ll also further expand the team. We have so many ideas what we could (realistically) do, but we lack the manpower. The good news is that Sebastian will finally really join our team (which means working here way more hours than before). That will help a lot in the coming months and I’m really looking forward to it.
The bigger goal for the upcoming years is to finally be able to tackle Red Skies: Ascension. For our team size it’s not feasible yet, especially with the funding we have at the moment, but if we can steadily increase our revenue like during the last years we can absolutely manage that in the next five years. That will be our biggest project then. But we also want to keep doing smaller projects as well and have so many ideas there, for new franchises or games within our franchises as well as sequels (like Elemental War 3). What of those we’ll really do and when depends on a lot of things and we can’t say anything specific yet. But we won’t run out of ideas… ever.
In general we now have CyberTD, Tri6: Arena and some ports and VR things in the making and the big goal for the next five years is to finally do Red Skies: Ascension.
I hope you enjoyed this little recap and outlook. Share your opinions with us and I think I’ll do the same again in five years for our 10 years anniversary 🙂
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