Turns out the new guy that Xavi Canal, the creator of Towns, hired to work on the game has canceled future development due to a lack of sales. I suppose that makes sense, especially since the new guy was to be paid by royalties… but, everyone’s wondering: where has all the money gone that people paid to support the game thus far?
The game was released in 2012, and, according to news posts by Xavi on the Towns forums, the game has sold 200,000 copies in two years. At $15 / pop, even with fees and taxes, we’re still looking at well over a million dollars in the bank.
Is this cut and run?
I’m not so sure. Xavi is exhibiting signs of intense burn-out and the community response isn’t helping. It takes two to tango, and too much success all at once has been known to really negatively affect indie developers.
In my opinion, the best thing for Xavi to do is completely hand the project over to the new guy and remove himself from any part of development or leadership of it for 12 months. Then he can come back as a developer to help out at a low level, building his passion back.
Both Xavi and the new guy have discussed open sourcing Towns. I don’t think that’s a good idea. What I’d rather see them do is create a voting system where players can vote up or down the features and bug fixes they want to see, and the dev team can implement them. This way, the customers that have paid are being listened to and respected, the dev team gets to work on an improving product, and sales will grow.
Whatever goodwill the new developer had built in the past month or so quickly evaporated when, in the same post that he announced Towns 1 was cancelled, Towns 2 might become a reality.
That was probably not a good idea.
Thing is, he didn’t mention that it would cost existing customers anything. The community is flipping out about the idea of having to pay again for a new product from a team that hasn’t delivered the old one yet. But, if they were to scrap the design of the old Towns and rebuild it as Towns 2, then release it, giving free access to all that purchased the game beforehand, they might be able to salvage the situation.
The future is unclear.
What are your thoughts? Did you buy Towns? Would you be okay with them scrapping it and starting over, if you were to get a free copy? Do you want them to open source it?