Ninja Theory: We lost money on Heavenly Sword

Let me first say that I respect Ninja Theory and thought Heavenly Sword was a great game for the PlayStation 3 (one of my favorites). I also plan on buying Enslaved when it comes out, however, the company has a very misinformed outlook on how the console industry’s marketshare is currently played out.

In a recent discussion with CVG, Ninja Theory co-founder Tameem Antoniades claimed that the fact the Xbox owns over 50% of the marketshare this generation is one of the reasons why the company has chosen to go multiplatform.

“It’s just that when so many people have Xbox – I mean over half the market or more has Xbox 360s – why limit yourself to one platform?” commented Antoniades.

I’m not sure which market he’s looking at, but no console has over 50% of the marketshare this generation and if any company is close to doing so, it’s the Nintendo Wii — not Microsoft (or Sony for that matter). It makes perfect sense to go multiplatform as an independent developer in order to reach a wider audience and gaming install base, but at least be knowledgeable about the installed base you’re trying to discuss.

Furthermore, Antoniades goes into how Ninja Theory didn’t make money on Heavenly Sword, but expects that Sony definitely broke even.

“It’s difficult. Heavenly Sword came out pretty early on the PS3, and we sold, I think, a million and a half copies, and that’s still not enough as an independent studio to break even,” said co-founder Tameem Antoniades. “The publisher potentially breaks even at that point, but the developers don’t,” he added, and it’s for this reason that the developer chose to go multi-platform with its latest upcoming quest, Enslaved.”

This is something I find hard to believe. At 1.5 million copies, that’s roughly $90 Million in total sales. How expensive exactly was Heavenly Sword to develop? I understand that the retailer and publisher each get their cut, but surely with 1+ million in sales, the developer isn’t exactly being forced out of its offices, right?

Readers Comments (17)

  1. yea, i can see what you mean
    theres a litle BS in those statments, its almost as if youre listening to Molyneux or Valve

  2. I think they’re exaggerating a little.

  3. Playstation MGS March 29, 2010 @ 10:51

    yh i think ther exaggrating also

  4. well if they released a game at the start of the ps3 life cycle and sold 1.5 million then they are bound to exceed that today when the ps3 is having strong growth. i understand though why they went multiplatform and i as well think they are exaggerating a bit in terms of their loss.

  5. If it means anything to Ninja Theory, I think Heavenly Sword was a wonderful game and surprisingly one of the best PS3 games, so early into its life cycle. The story and art design can give games released this year a run for their money! I just hope nothing was lost in the transtion to multiplatform.

  6. Gotta do what’s best for them. No one can really blame them.

    Next time, try making a game that will last a little bit longer since it seems like that’s the only gripe on HS.

  7. I think we can’t judge their situation but there’s BS in what he said. but then again, All I hope for is for them not to lose quality just because of the Multiplat trans.

  8. Moocows111111 March 29, 2010 @ 15:40

    They released a game at the Ps3’s launch I mean back then the Ps3 was a joke, and now its crushing out sales all over the world. I respect Ninja Theory’s logic but what they don’t know is that the majority of Gamers on the 360 LIKE FPS’s. I don’t really care if they go multiplatform as Heavenly Sword wasn’t great IMO

  9. Ninja what?, I rest my case. Jokes aside, let them do what is best for them, but I don’t really care on what they have to bring anyways.

  10. I think they are finding a good excuse to go multi-plat because they messed up on Heavenly Sword

  11. Tokyo_GorePolice March 29, 2010 @ 16:42

    Well I think we can all agree that it’s not an exaggeration to say that PS3 owners don’t buy their exclusives, so companies will jump ship to a bigger market. We should blame ourselves, not Ninja Theory or others who will follow suit.

  12. The one thing I have to disagree w/ this post is when Ninja Theory is talking about the sales figures for the consoles.
    Actually Nintendo owns 60% of the market. (Includes Wii/DS.)
    Sony owns 30% of the market. (Includes PS2/PSP/PS3.)
    Microsoft owns 10% of the market. (Xbox 360.)

    Xbox 360 only has a 4M lead on PS3. (How the f*** is that 50% of the market?)
    Nintendo Wii owns everything right now.
    PS3 is slowly catching up to Xbox 360.

    Game sales are damn near exactly the same across PS3/360 now.
    Some games sell more on certain consoles but for the most part is equal.

    Honestly I just think Ninja Theory are making excuses to justify themselves in going multiplatform.
    (Only real reason Ninja Theory doesn’t want to stay exclusive is because it’s too much work. That’s the real reason.)

    Also another reason that could contribute to lack of sales is that fact that Heavenly Sword still is $60 even though it has been out for 3 years.

    Explain that to me.

  13. It is not a stretch to say that Heavenly Sword was one of the best games out this generation. It’s always a shame to see a developer as talented as this move multiplatform. They had such an immediate grasp of the Playstation 3’s technology, and so early on in its lifecycle, it’s a shame we don’t get to see where they could have gone from there.

    I suppose not all developers can be trusted as much as Naughty Dog, Insomniac Games, and Santa Monica Studios, to push their skills to the limit and use what the Playstation has to offer.

    #12, you’re right, there. Of the console market, a 4m lead on installed base, and 8m sales from Halo 3 does not make up 50% of the money. I’m not suggesting some kind of money hand-over, but it has definitely made me see Ninja Theory in a slightly different light. The question is, which system will it be ported from?

  14. They’re right, but their lack of sales was due to the lack of success of HS, although it was a very good game. Bought it when it launched.

  15. Moocows111111 March 30, 2010 @ 15:51

    “It is not a stretch to say that Heavenly Sword was one of the best games out this generation. It’s always a shame to see a developer as talented as this move multiplatform. They had such an immediate grasp of the Playstation 3’s technology, and so early on in its lifecycle, it’s a shame we don’t get to see where they could have gone from there.”

    I don’t agree with this at all, because Heavenly sword played like a late Ps2 game, The visuals were just a bit better then Shadow of the Colossus and the gameplay was pretty repetitive and quite Mediocre. The grasp in terms of technology on the Ps3 was very weak In my Opinion. About a few years later, we see title such as God of War 3 and Uncharted 2, which put Heavenly Sword to shame. Besides the reason Heavenly Sword didn’t sell well is be of the Huge overly priced Ps3’s.

  16. Ninja got their theory wrong, it sounds like MS PR talking, or they paid NT to cook up this BS. Heavenly sword was a good game, if u want to go multi platform just do it stop making excuses. i wish some other sony 1st party studio takes over HS2 and but NT to shame.

  17. @taus90: they MAY have been paid off to say such things…but the thing is that they’ve lost money on HB. So taking some extra cash from MS wouldnt hurt either

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