DevLog #31 – Why Skycliffs development is on hold for now
Let’s talk today about my first game Skycliffs. It is an action shooter roguelike with the unique hook of mixing top-down dungeon-crawling and verticality mechanics. The game has been out in Early Access on Steam for a couple months now. So I feel this is a good time to assess what happened and clarify what to expect for the future of the game.
Development on hold
I want to be honest and transparent: Skycliffs sales have been very disappointing so far. The Winter Steam sales and the recent week-long deal did not change the situation much. The sad truth is that, as a solo developer having already spent 18+ months on this project, I cannot afford to keep working on it. I am of course quite sad about this. I was hoping to add more game content during the Early Access phase, as well as refine the difficulty balance and continue polishing the existing. But making and marketing games is hard and time consuming, and it can result in very little payoff. It is sometimes best to let go of a project and move on, although it is a tough decision.
Hence I am not planning any more content update and v1.0 release for Skycliffs for now and I hope for your understanding. Still, I am very happy of the current state of the game. It fits what I had envisioned and I’m proud to have released it commercially. I also believe the current version contains enough content and replayability to allow for 10+ hours of entertainment. More if you like secret quests and seek 100% completion. So, if you enjoy this kind of game, please do give it a try, you may like it! Also, I am NOT dropping support for the game. I will continue to fix bugs. So please do report any issue you encounter and I will do my best to patch them.
Marketing a game is as hard as making it
You may wonder what hindered sales and so did I. This is a good question and it is difficult to pinpoint a single root cause. I could write an entire analysis devlog but this is not the point of this post so let’s simply mention a few elements. The market is quite saturated with dozens of games coming out each week, making it hard to stand out. Journalists, streamers and youtubers have to be picky as they do not have enough time to feature everything. Shooter dungeon-crawlers are also not very popular anymore, the current trends encourage arena survivors-like gameplay. Maybe mixing top-down fast-paced action and verticality platforming only appeal to a niche audience.
I also probably didn’t spent enough effort on marketing as I was mainly focusing on learning how to make a good game. Contrary to what highly publicized success stories would want us to believe, success doesn’t happen overnight and the early stages of any creative career almost always yield mixed results. We have to accept external factors out of our control and continue to work on what we can control and improve for the future.
If you have Skycliffs in your wishlist but have not bought it yet, I would be very curious to know your reasons. So please do not hesitate to reach out if you feel like sharing your take on this. It is always super valuable for a solo dev to read community feedback 🙂
To end this post, I would like to thank everyone who played Skycliffs and supported its development in any way, shape or form. Making a video game fully alone, from programming and art to music and writing, is a lot of work and takes a lot of time. The process can even feel a bit lonely every now and then. So thank your for being part of this journey, I appreciate your support and it was a great experience.
Releasing my first game was indeed a dream come true. I enjoyed it a lot and learnt so much. I can’t wait to use this knowledge to keep making games. Actually, I am already working on a new project… It is called Destroy The Monoliths and it is a real-time strategy tower offense roguelike. There is no Steam page yet, but you can play the free alpha here! Please share your feedback if you give it a shot!
See you next time 😉