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Some people actually bought that Steam game's £27 PDF certificate DLC

"A couple of people got angry, but there wasn't much market for outrage."

Last week we reported on Steam game Hadean Lands, which released a PDF certificate as £27 DLC.

Hadean Lands, from Boston-based indie developer Andrew Plotkin, is an interactive fiction game done in the old adventure game style. There are no graphics. You simply type your commands and read what happens next.

It's important to note that Hadean Lands does not come with hints or a walkthrough, because that's what this DLC revolves around.

The £26.99 DLC is a certificate that says you, the player, promise to finish Hadean Lands without looking at any hints or walkthroughs on the Steam forums or anywhere else on the internet.

Most took the DLC as a joke on the part of Andrew Plotkin. Some took it seriously. Here's one Steam user's take:

"It wouldn't have been funny if I didn't mean it seriously," Plotkin told Eurogamer over email.

"Or, put it this way: it's really up to the player whether to take it seriously. If you put down money, then you're being serious about the notion of playing without hints. And then it doesn't *matter* whether I meant it as a joke."

A cursory glance at comments on Eurogamer's report suggests most were on board with the DLC. Here's a snippet:

There was the odd dissenting voice:

"A couple of people got angry," Plotkin said of the reaction, "but there wasn't much market for outrage. I've been completely up-front about how the DLC works; nearly everybody respects that."

The DLC was picked up by a number of outlets, including, obviously, Eurogamer, which shone a light on Hadean Labs. I had thought, as some have suggested, this was the entire point of the DLC.

"Obviously I hoped that the idea would catch people's interest," Plotkin explained. "Nobody has done it before, as far as I can tell.

"But I didn't expect to get more articles about the DLC than about the game! I figured it would be good for 'that was clever' mentions at the tail-end of a few reviews.

"Well, the articles all mentioned that _Hadean Lands_ is a good game. So I'm happy."

What I wanted to know, however, was whether anyone actually dropped £27 for the DLC PDF certificate. I had thought no-one would, but Plotkin, while keeping his cards close to his chest, confirmed he's had at least one sale.

"I can't talk about sales figures," he said, "but it is safe to say that a non-zero number of people have bought the certificate."

So, what's next? Plotkin plans to release a minor update for Hadean Lands this weekend, but his focus is on the launch of the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation.

Once both are up and running, Plotkin will return to a game idea called The Flashpaper War.

"That's an unconventional IF idea which I started working on last year," he said. "My first draft didn't really hold together, so I trashed it and started from scratch."

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Wesley Yin-Poole avatar

Wesley Yin-Poole


Wesley worked at Eurogamer from 2010 to 2023. He liked news, interviews, and more news. He also liked Street Fighter more than anyone could get him to shut up about it.