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Firewatch sells half a million copies, ships a thousand sets of photos (correction)

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Indie gamble pays off for publisher Panic and studio Campo Santo

Firewatch, the narrative indie video game whose developers felt was a great risk given the time spent making it, has sold half a million copies, easily recovering its publisher's investment.

Panic, the publisher who partnered with developing studio Campo Santo, announced the sales total in a retrospective post on its blog yesterday. Firewatch had been the top-selling downloadable game on PlayStation Store in February (its only console presence). But at 500,000 copies sold, "Firewatch can be considered a sales success," wrote Cabel Sasser, Panic's co-founder.

"Panic's metric for Firewatch's success was probably calibrated a little bit differently than Campo Santo's," Sasser said. "Of course we wanted to make the best possible game we could, but we also had made an investment we really hoped to recoup."


Firewatch is $19.99 on both PSN and Steam, so it has made at least $10 million in sales so far, before the stores and others take their cut, of course. Additionally, Sasser noted that the quirky feature —€” on PC versions only — where photographs taken with a disposable camera found in-game can be "developed" and mailed to players, has sold roughly 1,000 sets. That's good for another $15,000 in revenue. Sasser and designer Neven Mrgan even invented a fictitious one-hour photo company from 1989 to handle the service, calling it "Fotodome" and even instructing Cissy Jones, who voiced the protagonist's radio companion in Firewatch, to reference it in game.

Firewatch is available on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Mac. Polygon scored it an 8.5, adding "if there can be such a thing as a page-turner in video games, this is one."

Correction: An earlier version of this story featured a headline that said the game recovered its investment after one month. It sold enough to cover Panic's investment in its first day on sale. The post has been revised to reflect this. Also, an earlier version incorrectly gave Neven Mrgan's title within Panic. He is a designer.