As we built up to the release of the “first-person asymmetrical multiplayer thriller” The Flock, many were excited about the game’s fairly odd concept. The Flock had a certain number which represented player population, as players competed for the Light Artefact, died and respawned, that number would eventually deplete. Once it hit zero, that was it, the game was over forever.
In theory, the game offered something not many games offer, a sense of risk. And by that I don’t mean risk that you’ll be dead for a bit, lose your inventory or character, and that’s it, but an actual risk that a game would no longer be on sale if players were a little too careless, a little too often (players with the game would move on to the ending phase of the game). However, a little over a month after launch, things aren’t going so well for The Flock, and that risk became all too real for Vogelsap.
Speaking at the 2015 Control Conference, Jeroen van Hasselt, Creative Director & Game Designer for The Flock revealed some pretty disappointing numbers for the game, a game which I personally believe had a lot of promise.
Despite the game getting a lot of praise right from the beginning, van Hasselt revealed, the team couldn’t keep up with the pace and enthusiasm. Because of this, a little over a month after launch things don’t look great.
At the event, van Hasselt revealed that the game currently has very mixed reviews on Steam, Metacritic has the game down at a score of 33, and the game has really only sold around 3,000 copies. Because of this, he also noted, the game didn’t make enough money, and now the player base is pretty dead, something that’s reflected in a handful of the game’s latest reviews on Steam.
— Eline Muijres (@ElineMuijres) September 30, 2015
It seems despite getting great exposure with the decision to limit population, around 75 per cent of players responded negatively to this. van Hasselt also called the launch “empty and dead,” with little press coverage, around 20 negative reviews on Steam in just an hour, The Flock has sadly become a bit of a wasteland and the counter has since halted to an almost stop.
Van Hasselt explained that a number of things really didn’t help with the game’s launch, such as the massive amounts of press coverage focusing on the population, pushing the gameplay aside a little, the team themselves adding too much before launch, and the release of Windows 10, which many gamers had upgraded to, causing the game to be unplayable.
“Playing it safe isn’t playing it safe at all. There are 100s of indie games out there. We had to do something different,” said van Hasselt during the event. Unfortunately that risk didn’t quite pay off. With that however, van Hasselt still recommends to take risks, but advises that research on design & market is integral.
We had the chance to catch up with Jeroen a little while after the event to see what the future holds for Vogelsap and it seems despite the game’s shortcomings, they’re pushing on to further improve the game and have plans for a Halloween update that’ll come with a price drop, additional content absolutely free for existing players, and more bug fixes, something they hope will spark a little more interest in The Flock, providing they can get everything done in time, something they’re hoping for.