Gamers flocked to "The Witness" in its first week on sale, a notable feat considering the release relied on the support of the indie community. Jonathan Blow, the game's developer, announced "The Witness" made $5 million in revenue and sold over 100,000 units across PS4 and PC in a blog post Tuesday.
"The Witness" was priced at $40, a level usually associated with larger titles from major developers. The game is an unconventional puzzler that takes place on an abandoned island. As a mysterious entity, players solve hundreds of puzzles that reveal what happened on the island. The story's conclusion is left up to the player to interpret.
In Tuesday's blog post, Blow compared the sales of "The Witness" to "Braid," his first game, released in 2007. "Braid" was an indie hit with a price of $14.99. Not only did "The Witness" have a higher revenue than "Braid," due in part to the higher price, it sold more units than Blow's beloved first title. "This is great because as price goes up, naturally the number of units sold goes down. So the fact that we beat Braid by units, more than doubly, is a really nice success."
Blow did not disclose the breakdown between units sold on PS4 or PC. Steamspy has an estimate of 57,631, but Blow states that number is lower than the actual figures.
The sales figures for "The Witness" would amount to a terribly disappointing launch for a major franchise. For comparison, "Call of Duty: Black Ops 3" made more than $550 million in sales within its first three days, according to an Activision press release in November 2015. Unlike "Call of Duty," "The Witness" was an independently financed game developed over the course of seven years by Blow and his team at Thekla Inc.
Blow said he has not broken even on development costs, but is optimistic "The Witness" will be profitable. "It is looking like, as time goes on, we should break even and make a comfortable safety margin on top of that, which will allow us to make more nice games in the future — unless some kind of world economic disaster happens," Blow said. "The Witness" could land on iOS and other platforms in the near future.