Indie Gem ‘Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice’ Has Sold 500,000 Copies Since August

Credit: Mitch Wallace/Ninja Theory

Breathtaking scenes like this are ridiculously common in Hellblade.

Let’s be honest: It’s a cynical time to be a gamer. Between all of this year’s loot box and microtransaction controversies, it can often feel like the industry we all know and love is imploding around us. But don’t fret, fellow gamers, for good things do still happen in this mad world, and today’s news is a refreshing blast of crisp, Fall air.

Independent developer Ninja Theory announced today that since the launch of its self-proclaimed ‘indie AAA’ game back in early August of this year, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice has already sold a whopping 500,000 copies. According to Gamasutra, that number has the studio breaking even and moving into profit much sooner than initially planned (the original forecast was 6 months). Not too shabby for an ambitious title created on a rather modest budget. And the best part? Hellblade’s success happened all without the help of a vampiric publisher. Gasp! Shock! Awe!

To put things in perspective, Microsoft-published indie darling Cuphead reached 1 million in sales after only two weeks on the market back in September. Good on them, but the 1930s-inspired platformer was obviously backed by a conglomerate marketing machine with considerable reach, so the numbers in that case—while still incredibly impressive—aren’t nearly as surprising. Hellblade, on the other hand, still managed to achieve half that enormous number in one single quarter almost exclusively by way of solid reviews and word-of-mouth. Grassroots, baby.

Credit: Mitch Wallace/ Ninja Theory

I probably spent a good five minutes gawking at this area after taking the screenshot.

To Ninja Theory’s well-deserved credit, the experience they created is, in my humble opinion, a masterpiece. So in that regard, I’m not blindsided in the least by its success. Overjoyed for the team? Absolutely, and also for what this represents in an industry obsessed with bloated budgets and bottom lines.

What is Hellblade, you ask? A deep dive into the horrors of psychosis, backed by extensive mental health research and a respect for the subject that I’ve yet to and probably will never again see in a video game. And it’s all done in around 10 hours without loot boxes or microtransactions. So yes, you can absolutely create a beautiful, well-playing game without stuffing it full of monetary exploitation and have it sell well. Who would have thought?

If you’d like, you can check out my full review of Hellblade and read my detailed thoughts. If you haven’t played it yet, I’d highly recommend doing so. It’s a really special game, and with any luck, it will go on to sell another 500,000 copies. Congrats, Ninja Theory. Keep making amazing things.

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