That Dragon, Cancer is a deeply affecting indie game which told the story of two parents losing their child to cancer. Recently, lead developer Ryan Green has come forward to say that they haven’t seen a “single dollar from sales” and Let’s Plays may be partially to blame.
For those who might not be aware, Ryan Green actually based That Dragon, Cancer on his own personal experience – his 5 year old boy Joel Green passed away after a battle with the disease.
Now, in a blog post, Ryan has discussed the thorny issue of Let’s Plays.
We decided to pay off all of our debt as soon as possible. But we underestimated how many people would be satisfied with only watching the game instead of playing it themselves.
And so yes, Let’s Play person, I agree with you, it does suck to have someone else making revenue off your work.
Green cited SteamSpy data, which shows That Dragon, Cancer has sold around 14,500 copies on Steam.
The number of people who have watched footage of the game on YouTube is in the millions. You certainly can’t blame the guy for thinking Let’s Plays have eaten at the sales of his game somewhat – especially considering it is very much a story driven effort.
We have seen many people post our entire game on YouTube with little to no commentary. We’ve seen people decompile our game and post our soundtrack on YouTube.
We’ve also seen many, many Let’s Players post entire playthroughs of our game, posting links to all of their own social channels and all of their own merchandising and leaving out a link to our site.
Still, Green is hardly waging war against the Let’s Play community. He was sure to stress that he believes for the most part the culture is “vibrant and really cool”.
Green suggested that if everyone who watched footage of his game on YouTube left just a small tip of $1, sales could have been very different.
He hopes that in future, fans will continue to share his work, but acknowledge the time and effort the developers put into the game.
Finally, he asks that going forward, all streamers add a link to That Dragon, Cancer website to encourage viewers to donate to the studio, if they can.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.