Underwater horror game SOMA has sold just over 250,000 units since going on sale last September, developer Frictional Games has announced, with sales continuing to tick over at around 125 units per day.
But while the game's sales are "a good result" for the studio, they are "by no means earth shattering", Frictional says, highlighting Firewatch's 500,000 sales in just 1/6 of the time. SOMA will break-even after just 20-30,000 more sales, the developer adds.
One thing that may have put people off of buying SOMA, however, is the merge of sci-fi and horror, Frictional speculates. "What this means is that the game might feel a bit too sci-fi for someone looking for a pure horror experience and vice-versa," it said. "While we think the mix works very well for the game, it seems quite possible that this has put off potential buyers."
It continued: "Not only has this probably led to lost sales, it's also most likely the reason why SOMA cannibalized the Amnesia sales. The moment that SOMA came out, sales of Amnesia: The Dark Descent went down too, and has stayed down ever since. We saw the same happening when we released Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs, but since SOMA is in many ways quite different from Amnesia, we thought it wouldn't happen this time. But it did, and the reason seems to be that people lump both titles under a 'Current Horror From Frictional Games' label."
To stop the same thing happening again, the developer says that it's considering "differentiating the games we make a bit more. So if we make another sci-fi game, we'll probably tone down the horror elements and make the sci-fi narrative more prominent," it says. " The reverse would be true if we made a new horror game. The idea is that this'll not only let us reach a new and wider audience, but also minimize the risk that people will mix up our games, and instead they'll see them as separate entities.
"With SOMA it feels we've made it clear that Frictional Games is not just about pure horror, and we want to take advantage of that and diversify the experiences we craft."
The studio also intends to grow its team to allow it to develop two projects simultaneously, meaning it won't have to "rely as much on each new game being a big money generator". "We're still in the early phases of this transition, but it's shaping up really well so far," it says.
SOMA launched on PS4 and PC in September 2015, and sees players exploring an abandoned underwater research facility to uncover the truth behind its human-like machinery. The game scored 8/10 in our review, where Tom praised it for its "amazing atmosphere" and "incredible sense of tension".