By Joseph Leray
Introversion Software -- the indies behind real-time strategy gems like “Darwinia” and “Multiwinia” -- have announced that they’ve sold over $1 million worth of pre-orders for “Prison Architect,” their upcoming prison management sim.
Players who pre-order “Prison Architect” will gain access to the on-going alpha version of the game in addition to Windows, Mac, and Linux versions of the final release, similar to Klei’s own “Don’t Starve” campaign. Introversion have also included Kickstarter-esque reward tiers for players who give more than the $30.00 asking price. Notably, “Prison Architect”’s highest tier -- a $1000 donation to design one of the game’s unique wardens -- is sold out.
Overall, over 30,000 people have pre-ordered “Prison Architect,” which features a clean art style and multi-layered mechanics: successfully managing your prison will involve managing its budget, hiring security officers, and building enough cells to house prisoners. This is typical sim stuff, but you’ll also need to command the fire brigade should your mess hall go up in smoke, for example.
The game’s funny, personable marketing team of producer Mark Morris and designer Chris Delay doesn’t hurt either.
While the $1 million milestone is obviously a huge boon for the small team at Introversion, it also has broader implications. “With [the paid-alpha] we think we have produced another potential business model that will work for indie developers," Morris told GamesIndustry International.
"That's why we're being so open about the sales numbers... [Other indies] want to know if this alpha structure, the Kickstarter inspired tiers, did we get the price points right?"
“Prison Architect” is still in alpha, where it could remain for a while, according to the game’s trailer. Still, 30,000 would-be wardens can’t be wrong, and “Prison Architect” seems to be shaping up nicely.