Exactly one year ago, fledgling independent studio Clifftop Games, headed by Joel Staaf Hästö, released its first game—Kathy Rain. This was a momentous occasion for all of us involved. For Joel, it was the end of a four year journey and the beginning of him finally getting to share his special project with the world. For Raw Fury, it was only the second game we had launched and the last title signed before we had even released, well, anything. Why, oh why, would you trust your studio to an unproven publisher? And yet, that’s what Joel did in the spring of 2015 and we can’t thank him enough for it.
A couple of weeks after Kathy Rain released in May 2016, we wrote a blog post called The Measure of Success that was largely inspired by the small amount of sales Kathy Rain had at the time. We noticed that we were getting a bunch of “better luck next time” vibes from some outside parties, while internally we felt that the game was a success.
So we decided to talk about how we deemed Kathy Rain’s launch a success despite the small amount of sales, because of the obvious quality of the game and its ability to live on and do well over an extended period of time. But we also felt that it was important to address another thing.
At that moment in time it was clear that the sales wouldn’t be enough to further Joel’s endeavor to continue being an independent studio. With that in mind, we decided to do something that seemed a bit unorthodox for a publisher—we announced that we’d fund Joel for 12 months, no strings attached, until the revenues from Kathy Rain were enough to make the dream of independent development sustainable for Clifftop Games.
This decision was easy for us to make and it ultimately proved successful, as Clifftop Games has received revenue for Kathy Rain since November 2016.
We got a lot of questions about the decision to fund Clifftop Games with no guarantee of a return. Some folks out there really mulled over the validity of our business sense, but we never looked back. Joel, being like family to us for giving us a chance in our early days, deserved to continue creating, and now here we are talking about how it was the best decision we could have made.
Today marks Kathy Rain’s first anniversary, and here is what the scene looks like for her today:
- Kathy Rain has been released on both iOS and Android, and on both platforms it maintains a 4.5 (out of 5) star rating from players
- Kathy Rain is still above a 90% positive rating on Steam, currently 93% overall at the time of this writing
- Kathy Rain won a slew of player’s choice awards in both the Aggie Awards by AdventureGamers and the AGS Awards 2016 by the Adventure Game Studio community, both prominent among adventure game enthusiasts
- Aggie Awards Reader’s Choice wins include Best Adventure, Best Story, Best Character, Best Gameplay, and more
- AGS Awards 2016 wins include Best Game, Best Character, Best Puzzles, and more
- Kathy Rain is currently owned by over 100,000 individuals
Joel is working on a new project called Whispers of a Machine alongside another highly regarded adventure game developer in Faravid Interactive. After playing an early build of it, we can honestly say that it’s shaping up to be pretty great and is doing stuff with the adventure game genre that we’ve never seen before (and that is saying something considering how long adventure games have been around). We don’t want to spoil too much but if you’d like to delve deeper into the project’s status you can check out its progress on the AGS forums.
To celebrate the anniversary, Joel is streaming a playthrough of Kathy Rain TODAY at 19:00 CEST / 10am PDT. Be sure to tune in on the official Clifftop Games Twitch channel , and poke him with any questions about Kathy Rain or Whispers of a Machine! And we’ll be in the chat as well to hand out copies of Kathy Rain.
Success is an award-winning developer getting to stay independent, developing something that combines their raw talent with the experience that comes with releasing a game to create a new experience for fans to enjoy. Success is treating each other like humans and not assets or the bottom line. Success is forging your own path and not caring if people think the decision you made wasn’t good business sense—it made sense to us, and one year later we can prove it has paid us back in spades.
Happy birthday, Kathy. Thank you for this wild ride.