Today, I am announcing that development on Stable Orbit has ended. There, I’ve said it. I wish things were different and that I could – if not personally then at least as a company – keep supporting Stable Orbit for years to come. Alas, that will not be the case.
Why? I have tried several ways to spin it, but it all boils down to one thing: money. While contracts bar me from sharing actual sales or revenue numbers, it is probably no secret that Stable Orbit hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. To give you some idea of how the game has done: a year after release, the total profits earned from Stable Orbit are just about enough to keep me in business for two months. Alternatively, I could have paid a half-decent contractor to work on the game for just 10 days – or only 5, if I’d had to pay my own contracting rate.
That said, I am not actually complaining about how many (or few) copies Stable Orbit has sold. It has outperformed my worst-case projections by some margin and, in the end, it did turn a profit – most games released today never do. However, Stable Orbit’s modest performance has severely limited my options. I haven’t been able to work on the game myself, because I have been doing contract work to stay afloat. At the same time, I lacked the financial means to outsource development of Stable Orbit to another studio.
With my publisher, Green Man Gaming, I have explored options like localizing the game into Chinese, which is an increasingly lucrative market (at least it was until the recent game freeze). Sadly, we couldn’t figure out a way to make the cost/benefit projections work to our advantage. There is an incredible amount of text in the game and I never got around to implementing localization support. The fact of the matter is that once a game is out, there is only so much you can do to increase sales.
After a year of trying to make it work, I can only conclude that it doesn’t. At least not for Stable Orbit. So, it is time for me to leave LEO behind and plant my feet firmly back into the ground.