The reason is the genre, budget, and price. First, price is a huge factor. If you're $20 most people will let it slide. Have you played Factorio? While I personally like it, if it had been priced at $49.99 it would have gotten murdered in reviews.
I hadn't considered this. Now your earlier comment that you wish Ashes was $39.99 makes sense, and I agree. That feels like the correct price point. Thanks for your response.
I appreciate your comments and responses.
When making a modern game, there are so many variables involved, especially new IP. I have a really really long gamasutra article coming up that will go into extensive depth on these things.
For example, when we budgeted Ashes, I didn't expect the game to be successful at all. It was funded so that Stardock would have access to a 4th generation game engine for future games like Star Control and other titles we have in development that are using it.
Remember, when we started Ashes there was no DirectX 12 or Mantle.
It wasn't until last Summer that we realized that Ashes was turning into an actual, pretty damn good game. But it was all theory craft until then.
Contrast that to say Offworld Trading Company. It was a fully playable, fun game a year ago. It gets released next week and it has both a bigger budget and bigger staff than Ashes had and has been prototyped over a period of 8 years.
Game development is our business. We have finite resources and have to make our best guesses on how much money something is likely to make. Offworld Trading Company will be the 5th 1.0 game I've shipped in the last year. And in recent history, the most polished one, Sorcerer King, is by far, the weakest one.
Now, I'll put out there that Offworld Trading Company is the best game we've ever released. It's the game that has every checkbox you guys mention in it. $39.99, great campaign, great single player, great UI, truly unique, low system requirements, super fun, good multiplayer, weekly challenge modes, etc. And it'll probably end up with an amazing metacritic score.
OTC was our "safe bet" and Ashes was our "risky bet". And we budgeted accordingly.
Now that Ashes is out and successful, we can iterate on it. If people are currently turned off by it for some reason, that's fine. There's always sequels or what have you. Unless someone else shows up with a next generation RTS engine, it's unlikely anything is going to overtake it.