Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood of Venice Post Mortem - What Went Wrong part III


Originally, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood of Venice was only planned to be available in English and French. Pressure from some backers to have a version of the game in their language finally convinced us to offer a language pack for 3 new languages: German, Spanish and Italian.

Each pack includes the 707 cards and the 5 booklets of the core box and the 3 expansions, for a total of about 65,000 words and a weight of over 5lbs! The price of this pack was set at CA$20 on the Pledge Manager in the hope of maximizing the success of the game. It turned out the manufacturing of each pack cost more than CA$40, notably because we had to strongly reduce the quantities to be manufactured. And that is only the manufacturing costs!

Update #73 - we indicated that we would need at least 700 Spanish/Italian backers to create a pack in those languages (the German language being already close to this number). As we were far from the count at the end of the Kickstarter campaign, we continued to count these backers in the Pledge Manager and share the numbers in each Update.

Update #80 - Here is where we were the last time we shared the numbers: 

Update #81 - At that point, it would have made sense to cancel these 2 languages, but we were hoping that these packs would help sell the game after its release. So we announced that we would start the translation and production of 3 additional languages anyway.

We didn't keep track of the time our team spent on these 3 languages, but we each spent several weeks on them. Laurence, Fabrice and I had sufficient knowledge in each of these 3 languages to be able to compare word for word each card and sentence in the booklets with the original text and ask for corrections where necessary. For some languages, there were too many errors and we decided to call in other translators/proofreaders to do a second pass, so the bill doubled for some languages. Finally, Shannon, our graphic designer, reworked the layout of all the cards and booklets in these 3 languages, that is 2,547 cards and 15 booklets! She was helped in her task by the Redokun software which saved us a lot of time, including for the translation, but for the not insignificant cost of CA$2,500 at the time.

In the end, we produced 750 packs in German, 350 in Spanish and 200 in Italian, which is an aberration: no publisher/distributor would undertake the translation of a game to produce such small quantities! Here are the combined sales figures from the Kickstarter campaign and the Pledge manager: 554 German packs (85% of German backers having finalized their order), 240 Spanish packs (99% of backers having finalized their order) and 130 Italian packs (83% of backers having finalized their order). These remaining language packs have been available on our online store since the release of the game at a price of CA$69 (to break even) in the months since the campaign ended. At the time of writing this article, there are still about 10% of packs of each language in our warehouse.

In conclusion, we spent about CA$75,000 on manufacturing, translation, proofreading and layout for about CA$37,000 in sales assuming we manage to sell ALL the remaining packs. That's a net loss of CA$38,000 in the best case scenario. Although the presence of these language packs may have allowed some to pledge when they would not have done so in their absence, the overall economics of these languages is not sustainable for a small structure like Triton Noir. That means that unfortunately, there is very little chance that Triton Noir will be involved in game translation again (besides English and French), unless we reach reasonable numbers, i.e. about 2,000 backers per language. The classic solution to translate a game is usually to find publishers/distributors interested in translating and distributing the game in their country. The publishers/distributors will then sell the games to the stores in their countries. This is absolutely not possible for Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood of Venice Collector's Edition which would cost more than CA$500 in stores and would not make sense.