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Prison Architect dev Introversion reflects upon Scanner Sombre, which "bombed in a big way"

"We didn't think it was going to be that niche."

Eerie, colour-spraying exploration game Scanner Sombre has "bombed". "It's bombed in a big way," said Introversion's head game maker, Chris Delay.

Scanner Sombre was released in April and was Introversion's first new game in years, Prison Architect having engulfed the small British studio since 2011. But the two-million-plus-sales success of Prison Architect skewed expectations about what Scanner Sombre would sell. It sold, Introversion said, around 6000 copies.

"I didn't think that was possible after [Prison Architect]," said Delay in a video chat with other Introversion boss, Mark Morris.

"It's not the best game we've ever made - we knew it wasn't - and we knew it was niche but we didn't think it was going to be that niche - crazy, crazy, nobody's-interested-in-this-game niche.

"We'd hoped for better."

Scanner Sombre was built much more quickly than Prison Architect, in around nine months, as a kind of creative palette-cleanser for Introversion. We were fond of Scanner Sombre but did say it was "insubstantial" in our review. It's that fleeting sense of entertainment - a few hours next to Prison Architect's endless replayability - Delay believes might have put people off.

"There's something about the nature of the game itself, how it's very weird looking and very short and a one-time only thing, that made a lot of people pass on it," he said.

"We took a punt, it didn't work out for us but it's not the end of the world," added Mark Morris. "But in the olden days it would have been. We would have been out again on our ear, we wouldn't have any money.

"What the true stupidity would have been is if we'd stopped working on [Prison Architect]. That would be the height of folly, to leave it now. To continue to keep it going: that's the bread and butter, and it enables us to take risks and do more interesting work that gamers are ready for or are not ready for."

In other words this can relatively comfortably be chalked up to experience.

The final update for Scanner Sombre will be the new virtual reality mode, demonstrated in the video above, before the team moves onto making something new - in addition to continued support for Prison Architect.

Scanner Sombre is currently half-price - £4.50 - in the Steam Summer Sale.

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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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