As you know, the last Eastside release was via digital download. At the time, people complained about this as a distribution method, but it was the only one open to us - the first version of Eastside did very well in Scandinavia, pretty well in Europe and just about OK in the US & Canada. The second also did just about OK in the US and Canada, just about OK in Europe, but despite great review scores and decent pre-orders, the sales in Scandinavia, that had pretty much kept the game going, dropped heavily, from our analysis of the situation, mainly due to the game getting hacked before release, and pirated. Because of this, a retail release wasn't worthwhile with the pre-orders that we were going to get from retail, so we thought we'd go digi download, and encourage people to buy that way, whilst having a lower break even point due to retail not taking their cut.
So the game came out to glowing reviews, and decent online pre-orders, and we sat and waited to see the numbers going up and up. The forums were full of people constructively criticising, and praising (just the way we like it) and we were all pretty buoyant. We had more licenses than any other hockey game in history, it was the best Hockey management game in the history of gaming ever, and Riz and his team had done an amazing job. So, despite Hockey being a bit less popular post the hiatus of the sport in the US in 2004, we still couldn't fail, right?
Wrong. The orders came in a drizzle, rather than a flood. We scratched our heads trying to work out what had gone wrong. And then someone pointed out that the game was being pirated, and was available as a torrent from lots of different pirating sites. Then sat there and watched as the claimed amount of downloads on those sites went up and up, as sales stayed static.
Basically, the game did not bring in enough money to cover the development costs, let alone the license fees on top of that. So we've had to make the decision to stop development on the game for now - it doesn't mean that it'll never come back, but for the foreseeable future, there will not be another version of Eastside Hockey Manager.
The good news is that the amazing talented people on the Eastside team have all decided to stay with Sports Interactive. Riz, Ed & Phil are going to be working on Football Manager moving forward, and Graeme has joined our R&D department to work on developing a new idea forward, which we'll be announcing later in the year.
Thank you to all of you out there who supported the Eastside Hockey Manager project by buying the game, and especially those who helped with testing and research. And to those of you who pirated it, this is what happens when you steal. There are no excuses you can give that are valid for stealing - you have lead to the demise of a game that you enjoyed playing.
Sports Interactive MD