How EA's Surprise Release Destroyed an Indie Game's Sales

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Electronic Arts, Stumbling Cat 

How EA's Surprise Release Destroyed an Indie Game's Sales

Vignesh Raghuram
Updated On: 
Highlights
EA's surprise game releases on Steam hurt sales of indie game Potions: A Curious Tale by Stumbling Cat, moving it down in visibility.
Stumbling Cat's lead developer, Renee Gittins, highlighted financial and strategic setbacks due to EA's unannounced launch.
The incident prompts discussion on Steam's policy for "new and trending" placements, questioning its impact on indie developers.

It is no secret that in the video game industry, small indie developers often find themselves at the mercy of larger publishers. A recent event that highlights the David versus Goliath battles these developers face occurred when Stumbling Cat, an indie game studio, released its game Potions: A Curious Tale on Steam. Launched on March 7th 2024, the game quickly climbed its way into the "new and trending games" list on Steam, a coveted spot that can significantly boost a game's visibility and sales.

'Potions: A Curious Tale' and the Impact of EA's Release

However, the game's upward trajectory faced an unexpected challenge when Electronic Arts (EA), a major player in the video game industry, chose to surprise players by releasing a collection of its classic titles on Steam.. This unexpected release included beloved games like Populous, Dungeon Keeper, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, The Saboteur, and a massive bundle dubbed Command and Conquer: The Ultimate Collection. Notably, the only way to acquire individual Command and Conquer titles on Steam is through the purchase of this comprehensive bundle.

While the reintroduction of these classics was undoubtedly a treat for gamers, the manner of their release had unintended consequences for indie developers like Stumbling Cat. Each game in EA's bundle, despite being re-releases, secured its own spot in the "new and trending" section of Steam. This policy pushed down newer titles, such as "Potions: A Curious Tale," diluting their visibility and potentially impacting their sales.

Renee Gittins, the lead developer at Stumbling Cat, voiced her frustrations on social media. In a tweet, she revealed that the shadow drop of EA's titles directly impacted her studio's sales estimates, jeopardizing plans to port the game to consoles due to financial constraints. Gittins highlighted the timing of EA's release as a significant factor, noting that the "new and trending" list is date-ranked, and EA's games only appeared ahead because they were released immediately after Potions: A Curious Tale. The lack of announcement for EA's shadow drop left no room for smaller developers such as herself to strategize their releases to avoid such clashes.

This situation sparks a broader debate on whether Steam should allow re-releases to occupy slots in the "new and trending" category. As it stands, the policy can undermine the efforts of indie developers, who rely heavily on platform visibility to drive sales and sustain their operations.

Amid this flurry of obstacles and hiccups, we are really rooting for 'Potions' to triumph over adversity, as it is an engaging and worthwhile experience for casual gamers. It captivates players with its adorable art, witty writing, and accessible gameplay, promising a delightful experience for those looking to unwind on a lazy Saturday evening.

With a demo offering over two hours of free gameplay and a price point of $16.99 — mindful of regional pricing differences to boot — it serves as a genuine call to those of us eager to support the indie scene.


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Vignesh has been covering the esports industry for nearly 5 years starting with the early days of the DPC. His industry expertise includes experience in Dota 2, CS:GO and Mobile Esports coverage.

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