Speaking at the recent GameHorizon business conference in Newcastle, England, Lionhead’s Peter Molyneux has detailed a few of the developer’s goals for the upcoming RPG, Fable III, as well as revealing that following the game’s launch at retail, it will be released as a series of downloadable episodes.
Molyneux’s sales goals for Fable III are ambitious, but not crazy:
“We are driving to sell more than five million units and to make a profit in excess of $150 million,” Molyneux said. “We have to do that because if a franchise doesn’t reach that level it will inevitably wither.”
This grand sales scheme is to be supported, Molyneux says, by splitting up Fable III into downloadable chapters and selling each one individually, much like the strategy used with Fable II, which garnered $15 million in profit, and 1.6 million downloads of the first episode:
“Soon after the retail launch we’re doing episodic. We break [Fable III] down in chapters. We give away the first chapter entirely free, the first hour. When you reach a certain point in the game it says ‘thank you for playing the pilot of Fable 3, do you want to spend an extra 2-5 or whatever dollars to buy the next episode, or buy the whole lot?’ Press ‘yes’ and you will immediately continue playing.”
Molyneux insists that this technique of providing interested players with a slice of content is a much better method than providing a limited demo of any kind ‒ a concept which he describes as “horrible”:
“It supports this freemium idea,” Molyneux continued. “It gets around this horrible concept of demos. Anyone out there who thinks a demo is a good idea is crazy.
“It’s never a good idea, because demos are usually done at the end of a game and they require an enormous amount of design talent to make a demo. The other thing is you’re more likely to satisfying the curiosity of a user rather than entice them to play more.”
(Mental Note: Never ask Peter Molyneux if there’s going to be a demo for one of his games.)