Sunset developer Tale of Tales has taken to their blog (cached version, if the site is down) to announce it was “a complete commercial failure”, and that they will no longer be developing games.

Selling just over 4000 copies, the game appears to have financially ruined Tale of Tales. The development of the game cost more than what they have earned from it and been unable to help rectify the company’s debt situation. Tale of Tale’s financial situation has always been precarious at best:

In the end, we spent more money than we had on the production of Sunset. Because we wanted to make it really good and reach a wider audience. Compared to the ambitions we had for the game, the extra $40,000 seemed like a relatively small sum. “Surely we can make that amount back in the first month of sales!”

We were wrong.

So far a little over 4,000 copies of Sunset have changed hands. That includes the copies for our backers on Kickstarter. That includes the sale. There’s barely enough income to keep our company going while we look for ways to raise the funds to pay back our debts.”

Because of this, the developer has announced they will be shutting down, at least for the forseeable future:

We really did our best with Sunset, our very best. And we failed. So that’s one thing we never need to do again. Creativity still burns wildly in our hearts but we don’t think we will be making videogames after this. And if we do, definitely not commercial ones.”

In the blog post, Tale of Tales explain that all of their attempts to make the game commercially viable failed. From taking out advertisements on websites, to sprucing up their PR image, to making Sunset more appealing to a wider audience, none of it apparently helped Sunset succeed.

We don’t have to take advice from anybody anymore. We were wrong. Everybody whom we consulted with on Sunset was wrong.”

It’s a shame to see Tale of Tales shut up shop. I’ve not been a fan of their previous games such as The Path or The Graveyard, but Sunset seemed to really try something new and different. For that game specifically to be the final nail in the coffin for them is a massive shame.

About The Author

Former Managing Editor

Joe Parlock is an opinionated pop culture writer from the British midlands with 3 years of experience and a passion for being a general grump about games. Starting out before he could walk with a Sega Megadrive and a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, his favourite genres of games includes platformers, stealth, fighting, roguelites and the budding survival sim genre. Joe also writes not only about games, but also other areas of pop culture such as film and TV.

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  • Dan Lokemoen

    That game looked terrible. As far as I could tell, the idea was to clean an apartment and read newspaper articles and notes. I don’t need to slay dragons in every game I play, but holy crap what were they thinking? Cleaning an apartment?! And who were they consulting with? I could have clued them in on the commercial potential of this “game.” Buh-bye Tale of Tales, you will not be missed.

    • It looks wonderful, but yeah, I think it would’ve sold better if it was structured differently, and much less of a time sink for the way it works. But on the other hand I’m not sure it would work that way.

      ToT tried to make Sunset more approachable. One way to do that is to make it a 5+ hour game, since people expect that. But I think this may’ve backfired by making it seem like too much of a commitment for the sort of people who would buy/play it. When you make a game like this you are not competing with other games as much as you are competing with other media. I’m not sure ToT realized what it would mean if their wishes came true.

      BTW: Tale of Tales isn’t gone. Just regrouping and stopping the next project promotion train. I doubt Sunset “ruined” them. It sounds like it would’ve just broke even. Probably a little shy.

  • As other commentators have pointed out, there are some very successful “Ars Gratia Artis” games already on the market, that put gamers in some seriously challenging situations. And yet, they still sell. This strongly suggests that there is at least a viable submarket of non-philistine gamers out there.

    What Tale of Tales did was to construct a self-destructive and anti-empirical narrative about the ostensibly unjust and cruel world in their own minds, and then from almost the beginning, act out in ways that would guarantee validation of that narrative.

    The truth is, these developers have no passion for games. What they have, is a passion for some kind of artistic expression using the same toolset that others use to make games. Unfortunately, they aren’t self-aware enough to recognize the distinction. And the result is a subconscious monster that works overtime to “make the inside and outside match”.

    • Michael has a strong passion for games. He’s been available for discussion a lot lately, maybe he always has been. I think it would be more effective to do more subversive games myself, since there is a strong advocacy element to ToT, but ToT has a right to make the games that they want to make.

      He seems as interested in games as ever, but disillusioned with business as usual. I don’t blame him. Maybe they were born a decade too early for this.