Currently, Braid is receiving excellent reception from game reviewers and critics. Both Metacritic and Gamerankings have Braid rated at 92/100:
That’s a pretty good score. In fact, Braid is the highest-rated Xbox Live Arcade game of all time (out of about 150 games!) Geometry Wars 2, released a week prior, is the second-highest. There are some strong games coming up in the next few weeks, so we’ll see if these positions hold.
But 92 is not just a good score for a Live Arcade game; it’s a good score for any game. In fact, Braid is currently the 10th highest-rated Xbox 360 game of all time — including all AAA high-budget games:
If Braid receives just one more Metacritic point, it will jump to 8th place on this list. (Eran and Alex: Let’s get ready to rumble!)
Of course, it’s possible that Braid’s rating will go down, too. Time will tell!
I don’t want any of this to seem like bragging. I do want it to serve as a clear and useful data point: an indie game made by a very small team can compete with giant games that had huge budgets at their disposal. (I don’t know how much Mass Effect cost, but it surely was a lot. Just licensing the Unreal Engine 3, before even hiring anyone or doing any work to create a game, cost probably 3x-5x Braid’s budget.)
This is important — I have been a proponent of indie and experimental game development for a while, but the attitude toward it always seems to be that they are interesting toys, but not real games. Well, perhaps that is changing. And perhaps some of the indie developers out there who are making cheap clones of PopCap games will realize that if, instead, they go out on a limb and do something interesting and different and important to people, their work will be recognized.
Now, about sales. They are surprisingly good!
I have noticed people on forums looking at the number of entires in the leaderboards and multiplying that out to get a total income for Braid. That doesn’t work, for a number of reasons. There are thousands of free copies of the game given out to the press, and once someone buys an XBLA game, other profiles can play from the same xbox and they get leaderboard entries. So the leaderboard is always an overestimate.
However, vgchartz.com has Braid at 28.5k sales currently, and that seems to be in the right neighborhood.
This is a very good sign, for a few reasons! First of all, it means that in addition to getting recognition from critics, Braid is also being played by a lot of people. We’ve all heard of games that are critically-acclaimed but that hardly anyone plays. That doesn’t seem to be happening with Braid so far. But, that could change — a lot depends on what happens to sales on Wednesday when Bionic Commando: Rearmed is released on XBLA. Will Braid’s sales keep up, as with Geometry Wars 2, or will they drop off?
But right now, Braid is selling as well or better than any massive highly-anticipated XBLA game by a major publisher. So, that is very cool. I would like to thank everyone out there who purchased a copy of Braid, for supporting independent and experimental game development.
People have asked me how many sales Braid needs in order to be profitable. The answer is, a lot more than it has gotten so far. (There are many reasons for this, which I may be motivated to talk about in the future). However, things are looking promising now — if Braid keeps selling, I’ll be able to afford to make the next game, and that will be good.