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500,000 sales in 3 months: the risk Ninja Theory took with Hellblade paid off

"We're now ready to face the next set of challenges."

The creative and commercial risk British studio Ninja Theory took by making and self-publishing Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, an action game with a deeply researched focus on mental illness, has paid off.

In three months the game has sold more than half-a-million copies and broken even and moved into profit, far quicker than Ninja Theory had originally hoped (the prediction was six months).

In that time, this £25 downloadable PC and PS4 game - which our Hellblade review deemed Essential by the way - raked in more than $13m. Not bad for a game which took 20 people three years to make - and that's precisely the point.

Three years ago Ninja Theory set out to do something different, something in between indie and triple-A - something half the price and length of a blockbuster but the same quality. It made something unusual, not something safe - and it worked.

In an age where the world's biggest gaming companies milk us for more money with risk-averse games made by armies, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice shines like a beacon, and Ninja Theory hopes other developers follow suit.

"The escalating stakes in the triple-A retail publishing model have killed off countless independent studios like us, many smaller publishers, and are now straining even the largest of publishers," said Ninja Theory co-founder Tameem Antoniades in a statement. "This isn't survival of the fittest but a routing of the creative base upon which this industry was built."

In a 30th developer diary charting Ninja Theory's journey with Hellblade, commercial director Dominic Matthews said: "We're not the biggest, the richest or even the most popular of developers, but with your help we made the Hellblade project work. There's no reason other developers can't do the same. If you're a developer like us, searching for independence and with a track record, then get in touch. We've been through this journey and perhaps we can help."

"In terms of what's coming in the future," Tameem Antoniades, in the video, added, "we haven't made any concrete plans yet, but we want Hellblade's legacy to live on."

Matthews concluded: "Hellblade has opened new doors for us here at Ninja Theory and it's given us the confidence to be bold and open in the future. We've all taken a good break and we're now ready to face the next set of challenges."

Bravo, Ninja Theory, bravo.

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Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.


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