Journey development bankrupted studio

Creator Jenova Chen says creation of critically applauded game bankrupted ThatGameCompany.


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Adventure game Journey was well received and even broke PlayStation Network sales records. However, its development bankrupted creator ThatGameCompany.

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"I wouldn't say that the development of Journey was a successful example of game development," Journey creator Jenova Chen told Polygon. "We bankrupted the company."

Chen noted ThatGameCompany did make its money back from Journey--plus some--but its release as a PlayStation 3-exclusive hurt the game's overall sales.

"I think to have a financial success, that is going to change everyone, it has to be much bigger than a game on the Playstation platform," he said.

The next game from ThatGameCompany, which Chen would not talk about, is aiming to release on multiple platforms. The developer last June secured $5.5 million in venture capital funding for this game.

According to a job advertisement at ThatGameCompany, the studio is planning a "full-scale online service" for its next game that will accommodate hundreds of thousands of users.

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Avatar image for arcangelgold

I'm getting really tired of reading stories about companies that male millions of profit going "bankrupt". Especially when it's clear they have money and can afford to continue.

Avatar image for deactivated-597794cd74015

@arcangelgold You really think a PS3 exclusive is going get you rich ? Something like Uncharted gets only marginal profits compared to investments.

Avatar image for xtrazyx

You have what you deserve making a PS3 exclusive. And you knew it since the beginning.

Avatar image for The_Gaming_Baby


Avatar image for franzito

Sad but what to expect of the Captalism? Life is expensive, gaming is expensive, one day even breathing is gonna cost us...

Avatar image for numairahmed89

@franzito true.... breed!ng !s already cost!ng... breath!ng w!ll too..:P

Avatar image for nisgos

This is sony's mistake , they should buy the company and keep them as in house devs , journey is fantastic

Avatar image for John_Read

in other words Sony ate all the profits :P

Avatar image for zulwalks

@HipHopBeats Because they may not be so lucky next time...

Avatar image for premier024

@zulwalks If it wouldnt have sold as well as it did the company would have gone under. Ask THQ about what happens when you dump a majority of your cash flow into something that doesn't go over well.

Avatar image for cephas90

Im interested, just not interested in buying a ps3.

Avatar image for sugarboy79

Dear TGC, port it to PC and I will buy your game.

Avatar image for Morphic

Its too bad. They made unforgettable game.

Avatar image for Phrykshun

Would've liked to check it out, but I'm not buying a PS3 for anything.

Avatar image for Rattlesnake_8

It won numerous GOTY awards.. if the game was that great they should have been able to get the return on it.

Avatar image for amvivin

Serves you right. You should'nt have sold your soul to sony. Rather than making it console exclusive if you had released it with PC. The sales would have risen much above expectations. Besides with all the awards, its gaining massive publicity. Sad that only those who own a PS3 can experience such a fine game.

Avatar image for Lpedraja2002

They should port the game to PC and sell it on Steam, that looks like a game I'll gladly pay $5 to $10 to play.

Avatar image for prismtech


Avatar image for Rat_King

@ZexionLuv I unno, maybe if you stop playing games for a month, you'll realize how great some of today's games are so they can "caught your spirit."

Avatar image for DeadlyMustard

This industry is really starting to shit on the little guys.

Avatar image for Anamon

Yeah, platform exclusivity is a bit a thing of the '00s. It was very rare before the mid-90s, apart from first-party games, and I think it will become a rarity again. Cross-platform development has become so much simpler that it's really not worth ignoring such large parts of your potential market, unless you're paid off for the exclusivity by the platform manufacturer.

Avatar image for Hurvl

That's what you get for thinking outside the box! Now sell your soul and die a little inside, so that can actually make something that's profitable.

Ranting aside, this is just another example of the difficulty of making an innovative, emotional and, above all, different game that still sells well enough to let you make another game. Not that I think that any non-indie company would make something like Journey, but this is just another reason for them not to do so. There are others, though, who are willing to do what ThatGameCompany did in terms of ambitions.

Avatar image for mboettcher

@Hurvl I bet if they had released this game multi-platform it wouldn't have bankrupted them. I for one and so bummed I can't play this game since I don't have a PS3.

Avatar image for chaosbrigade

@mboettcher @Hurvl

It was the costs the development that bankrupted them, not the sales of the game. Releasing the game on multi-platforms wouldn't change the development costs.

Avatar image for amvivin

@chaosbrigade @mboettcher @Hurvl Think about how much more they could earn if it were'nt console restricted. If it were released for the PC alone it would have seen figures higher than expected

Avatar image for maddog123

so their bankrupt but not out of business? chapter 11 restructuring maybe? who knows, as long as they are still around, I will continue to buy their games, as I currently own all of them.

Avatar image for onionking108

"Journey development bankrupted studio" says headline. Article says "ThatGameCompany did make its money back from Journey--and then some..."


Avatar image for Anamon

@onionking108 They used up all their money in creating the game, and barely got it released, after which it turned a profit. They didn't actually go bankrupt, they just would have if they couldn't have released the game when they did. It's your basic reader-luring dramatic headline.

Avatar image for onionking108

@Anamon @onionking108 haha indeed.

Avatar image for Minishdriveby

@Anamon @onionking108 Sony was financing them though...

Avatar image for ibonedyourmom

They made a profit but bankrupted the company? How does that work exactly?

Avatar image for brothersinarmsb

\Lol. I remember when they said "only ps3 gamers enjoy art games." I guess that enjoyment had really paid off. Am i right !?!?

Avatar image for ZoTrAcK

I remember a time where games were made by a hand of people from A to Z includind the graphic engine... Credits at the end would last 30 second!. The golden age of gaming. Creativity and quality were at their peaks, no need for marketing when you have that!

There's just too many people over the developpers that want to makes money with gaming... 15-20 minutes credits at the end of a game says it all.

Avatar image for da_nibbler

bankrupted the company yet they made all the money back and then some????? *confused*

Avatar image for Rat_King

@da_nibbler I THINK the problem was that it was too little, too late...

Avatar image for SamuraiSeven

It seems, based on all the reports I read on game company financials, making video games requires a large team of highly paid individuals with very specific skill sets. It seems most company's lose money unless it is a AAA title. Then after it becomes a AAA title, the company's expand and eventually lose money after they "get too big for their breeches." Making games appears to be a gamble. This is eveidence by the countless companies downsizing and closing down studios.

Avatar image for Rat_King

@SamuraiSeven I absolutely agree for the most part, but I think it ultimately comes down to the quality of the game. The Witcher series is a great example. Small, unknown dev makes a great game and success ensued. The problem is a lot of these super expensive games are only coming out to be "pretty good." So moral of the story is a large, expensive dev team isn't required to maintain a developer. A focused, and CARING team is most important.

You're right about them getting too big for their breeches though. They fix what's not broken and collapse when it's done. Bioware went down the same path, they just happened to have a few titles to fall back on...

Avatar image for kourosh_riahi

how is that possible , its a good game

Avatar image for DAP2010

all i have to say is, im sad that as an xbox user i wont be able to play this game. im a student so i my laptop isnt powerful enough to play games anyway

Avatar image for warhawk-geeby

@ZexionLuv @MatrixGamer78 I'll half agree but then what abou games like Uncharted? Metal Gear Solid 4? Killzone?

There's a whole batch of games exclusive to the PS3 that wouldn't necessarily work on the 360 or Wii. Each platform has it's own strengths.

Avatar image for warhawk-geeby

Admittedly as a die hard Sony gamer even I wouldn't mind seeing Journey available on other platforms, the company deserves all the sales it can get.

The only thing that bothers me slightly is that their next project will supposedly be aimed at tablet and smartphone users.. Yes it's reaching a mass audience, but it upsets me to think developers are just 'selling out'.

I'll stay committed to consoles for the time being.. Little fiddly touch screen controls on a small screen do sweet f all to grab my interest. I'd much rather be sitting in a gaming chair, holding a controller and enjoying surround sound and a massive screen.

Avatar image for Rat_King

@warhawk-geeby So with all due respect, how is an indie dev decision to make a few mobile games mean they sold out? Because they might make money from it? You accuse a bankrupted company of selling out?

It's great you prefer console gaming, but because a developer decides to also please a, like you said, mass audience, does not mean they betrayed you or their promises in any way.

Avatar image for warhawk-geeby

@Rat_King @warhawk-geeby I'm not talking about breaking any promises, more the fact that developers are just going for the easier option.. ThatGameCompany has probably achieved more than it thought was possible with Journey, and they've received huge amounts of praise, recognition and awards.

Given the fact they're no longer tied to Sony I'd have liked to have thought they'd be branching out on to the other consoles, going multi-plat, using the extra resources and money to their benefit. Not just using the first opportunity to make cheap games aimed at the casual market.

The developers have a huge fan base now, one which is rightfully deserved. They could also have a potential console audience of more than double what they did before. But what do they do with it? Throw it all away.. disregard it.. and make little games for mobile phones.

I was just hoping to play another game of there's on my PlayStation in full glorious HD with surround sound, sadly that looks like it may take a while, if ever.

Avatar image for warhawk-geeby

@Rat_King @warhawk-geeby Geez.. I'll reply to this properly when i'm on my lunch break at work on Monday!

Avatar image for Rat_King

@warhawk-geeby @Rat_King Oh and slapping together a game and putting it in the app store DOES NOT mean instant $$$$. Go ahead and take a look at how many mobile games are out there. And how many do you know off the top of your head? 3? 4? 5?

This isn't Activision. They can't just move from one project to another. There's A LOT of money involved. These guys have no money. The console games you describe usually require hundreds if not thousands of workers on a single project.

I'd be willing to bet they moved to the mobile market to make a little more cash to add what they have, hopefully resurrect ThatGameStudio, and develop another AAA title. Let's have some faith in our devs for a change. Especially one that radiates good intentions.

Avatar image for Rat_King

@warhawk-geeby @Rat_King Well accusing a bankrupted company of selling out means they had an obligation to please you but then moved away from that obligation for more money.

The truth is they never had an obligation to please you. They WANTED to so they did their best to....and it looks like they succeeded. Now they want to please others, so they are making a mobile game.

Nowhere does it say they are exclusively making mobile games for the rest of your life. Besides are you a game developer? Do you know what it takes to develop a mobile game? You realize there are tons of smartphone OS's out there, right? Tablets and phones? Different systems. Maybe it's not as difficult as a PS3 game, but it's by no means the "easy path."

I just think it's unfair to accuse a hard working and now bakrupt company who made one great game of selling out when all they want to do is please their customers. Just because they aren't giving you what YOU wanted, aka more console games, in the immediate future is not grounds to accuse them of doing something so heinous. I am friends with several game devs, and if only you knew what it took to create just the eye of your favorite NPC, I think you'd regret your words.

Avatar image for h1221292h

@ZexionLuv I unno wat ar yo takin bout.

translation: I don't know what are you talking about.

Avatar image for DAP2010

@h1221292h @ZexionLuv loools