|Subnautica at a very early development stage|
But could we offer Subnautica for sale before this date? Charlie and I had an interesting discussion about this option today. Might Subnautica be made available for pre-order? After all, like every game developer, selling stuff is how Unknown Worlds wheels keep turning. Surely selling more stuff earlier is a win?
|Look, don't touch.|
If a customer purchases Subnautica later this year, on Steam Early Access or another platform, we want them to be thrilled by it, enjoy playing it, want to talk about it, be delighted by it. We then want to update and build upon the game regularly, consistently and inexorably until it is ready for release. What we are selling is therefore twofold: A great gameplay experience, and joyride of updates improving and growing the game all the time.
This is the guiding principle. Make customers happy, and everything else follows. Marketing, public-relations, trailers, reviews, they all become a side-show that could very well help, but are not the core of what it means to be a good game developer.
|Spot the Jumper...|
Comments like this are humbling, exciting, and morale-boosting for us. By offering Subnautica for pre-order, we might well make a few very excited people happy by giving the opportunity to turn that comment into a purchase. But we would not be doing right by them: We would be selling a promise we have not yet fulfilled. Unknown Worlds would have their money, and they would have a confirmation email. That is not a fair exchange of value, and not an exchange that is likely to induce real happiness in a customer.
This is not the state Unknown Worlds finds itself in now. Natural Selection 2 was a very successful game. Enough people found challenge and joy in it to fund not just its own development, but Unknown Worlds' future projects, including Subnautica, for a reasonable (but not infinite!) amount of time. Anyone pre-ordering Subnautica would not be purchasing the chance for the project to happen. While we can't be sure we can develop the game fast enough for this to stay true, we think we can.
Instead of offering pre-orders, we are going to double down on making sure that later this year, anyone that purchases Subnautica is absolutely delighted with what they find beneath the waves.