The Hotline Miami sales story, and more

"I don't know what the f***'s going on in there but it's just amazing."

"We thought it would be interesting ... we had no idea it was going to catch this kind of Zeitgeist."

Exceptional top-down f***-'em-up Hotline Miami has sold 130,000 copies since launch seven weeks ago, publisher Devolver Digital told me today.

Project manager Graeme Struthers - "distinguished gentleman" to use his business card title - is "chuffed to bits" for the game's creators Jonatan "Cactus" Söderström and Dennis Wedin. "Those are some talented boys," he said.

But Struthers sighed windily about PC piracy, which ravaged Hotline Miami. "It has been torrented to such a staggering level, and given the file size of it, I mean, you can't really be surprised, right? You could pass this thing around on the world's smallest memory stick," he noted. "So it has been torrented to extraordinary levels."

He doesn't know exact piracy numbers and doesn't particularly care; it's a way of life on PC and everyone involved in Hotline Miami knew that. Jonatan Söderström even released a proper patch for pirated versions of the game.

"That's what he's like," Struthers said. "He just felt he didn't want people playing the buggy version of his game however they got it. He wanted them to get the patch. He basically said, 'I'm not going to criticise this, it's a fact of life. It would be nice if guys could find it within themselves to pay for it, but that's the world I'm in, so you know, you just have to take it for what it is.'"

Before a Steam sale at the end of October sales were much lower. But even now a figure of 130,000 looks modest, even minuscule, compared to sales-success stories that usually hit headlines. It's all relative though, because to Devolver and the game's creators it's "a great number", especially when you track back to the game's humble beginnings.

"If you think of it from a base level, six months ago this turned up at Rezzed and that was the first time outside of a few other indie developers and a few other well-informed people in that indie scene that people had seen it," recalled Struthers. "From that point to where it is, it's just been an awesome ride.

"I actually remember going out of Rezzed and sitting in a pub on the other side of the street with Caroline Miller [PR] and I was just like, 'I don't know what the f***'s going on in there but it's just amazing.' And I genuinely was just sitting there thinking this is just something I wasn't prepared for. And it just gave us such a level of confidence because it was feedback from people we trust, but also it was punters: people in there who were just smiling and playing and chatting about it. It was just like, 'Wow, this is more than we thought.'

"We thought it would be interesting, we knew it would be interesting, but we had no idea it was going to catch this kind of Zeitgeist.

"For me it validated that the best money I've ever spent in my life was saying 'let's do Rezzed'. Had we not done Rezzed, had we not turned up there, I don't know where it would have gone - it certainly wouldn't have gone where it did. I'm convinced of that."

Devolver originally didn't even know what kind of game it was that Söderström had planned. A recommendation from a friend was all Devolver needed to sign him up.

"We knew who Cactus [Söderström] was. If the guy wanted to make a chess game we would have said yes."

Graeme Struthers, Devolver Digital

"Essentially what happened was we did this game with Vlambeer about 18 months ago - in fact you've just written about it. We worked with them, it was really interesting and a lot of fun, and it was Rami [Ismail] from Vlambeer who said to Jonatan, 'You should talk to these guys,' because he was at that point where he needed to put a game out to make some money. So honestly we didn't even look at the game, we were just like, 'Yeah, whatever - if Rami says we should talk to them and they want to talk to us and we all like talking, we're up for this,'" recalled Struthers.

"It wasn't that we were sitting there looking at this game in any way shape or form about what it might be. It was like, 'OK!' We knew who Cactus [Söderström] was. If the guy wanted to make a chess game we would have said yes."

After the vindication of Rezzed, Hotline Miami took on a life of its own and appeared at the Eurogamer Expo and then at Gamescom in Germany. When it was released in October the plaudits flooded in, including a sparkling 10/10 review from Eurogamer's big boss Tom Bramwell. Now a sequel is planned and I expect everyone involved will have a lovely Christmas.

Leading up to release to the release of Hotline Miami, Devolver opened a phone line in actual Miami, where Will Smith goes, to receive voicemails and text messages from fans. The best messages were turned into a video that I've embedded below. (I've also embedded the live action Hotline Miami launch video below that, because it's ace.)

Hotline Miami is a bit cheaper on Get Games (£6.89) than on Steam (£6.99), presumably because Graeme Struthers also works for Get Games. Not that he doesn't like Steam, mind you. "Steam are like that handsome elder brother who gives you good advice, helps you out," he told me, "sometimes tells you off but generally speaking is lovely, really really lovely. They're one of the best - just one of the best businesses ever. They really are."

A Mac version of Hotline Miami is "almost done".

(Pictures in this article taken from a brilliantly grotesque fan-made Hotline Miami photo shoot.

Comments (82)

Comments for this article are now closed, but please feel free to continue chatting on the forum!