So, what the hell happened last Friday?
Friday (Feb 14th) we launched Eschalon: Book III early in the morning. The web traffic was already starting to affect our site even before the launch, but we went ahead and announced it anyway. While we waited on the game files to be mirrored on to other sites, we had put local copies up for the first customers to be able to get (big mistake).
The demand was too great. You animals began grabbing the files like they were the last bottles of water and the world was about to end.
The traffic crushed our website.
We called GoDaddy and were given some very bad advice: we were told that in order to fix this problem, we needed to upgrade our hosting platform (they should have just reset our connection and let us take the files offline). We were told the switch would take a couple hours, and that it would be transparent. This was misinformation by the GoDaddy "sales and support" staff. Here's a helpful tip: anytime a company combines "sales" and "support", you are going to get horrible advice. We later found out migrations actually take 24-72 hours, and it wasn't transparent...we'd be down the entire time.
Worse, the GoDaddy first-tier support technicians did not know what they were doing. We were moved from our Linux server to a Windows server. This caused the migration to fail and have to be restarted. After the first move to the new Windows server, we needed to switch again back to Linux, which is another migration of 24-72 hours.Did this downtime hurt the launch of Book 3?
Without a doubt, yes. We may never know the full extent of the damage. How many potential day-one "impulse buys" did we lose? How many potential customers saw the "just released" announcement on a gaming site but were put off by our
broken website, never to return? I can say for sure that Book III's day-one direct sales where far less than Book II's. Is that because more people bought from Steam or GoG, or because of the website problems? Certainly it's a little bit of both, but the early numbers seem to suggest that our broken website significantly hurt us. Only time will tell if we can recover the sales that we lost.What is Basilisk Games going to do now?
Unsure. We've talked about maybe trying a special "re-launch" celebration in the coming days. Updating Book III and releasing the tools would certainly help keep the "new game excitement" going a bit longer, which should entice curious gamers to take another look at our products.
It will likely take two or three months before we can get an accurate projection of Book 3 long-term sales, and to determine how bad the bungled launch hurt us.How can I help?
As always, we rely on our fans for support. Tell others how much you like our games. Tweet it. Post it. Spread the word. Email your favorite game bundler and tell them you'd love to see the Eschalon trilogy in their next bundle.What about Kickstarter for your next game, or a donation button?
Kickstarter is a great service for a lot of devs and startups to get their project off the ground, but it's not really our thing. If we take your money under the promise of a game and then fail to deliver, we ruin our reputation with our customers and within the industry. It's just not something we want to get in to.
We have been asked many, many times to put up a donation button to help fund the next game. This is a slightly better solution. In the past we've had many individuals buy multiple copies of the games to help support us (the record being one person who bought 93 Book II registration codes...thanks, stranger!) but then we have to share that money with our payment processor or distributor. It would be more efficient to just offer a donation button to anyone that wants to throw us a few dollars to help us with our next game- and so, there is now a Donate button
on our front page. We can promise that the money gathered from donations will go directly towards the production of our next game. We will even try to let you know when we spend money from the donation account and what we bought with it.Is that all you have to say?
Nope, one last thing: thank you to all our fans who supported us, who bought a copy of the game, and who were patient through this ordeal. Seriously, the only thing that kept us from curling up into the fetal position for 3 days were your awesome emails and messages. Thank you, thank you, thank you.