I just finished Hyrophobia on Xbox Live Arcade. I really enjoyed the game! It had a few things that could have been improved to enhance my play experience, but I liked it enough to play completely through the game which is more than I can say for most games.
The sad thing is that this game did very poorly on Xbox Live Arcade. According to Wikipedia, only selling 17,000 copies by the end of October 2010.
It appears that the main reason for this is that many people were disappointed in the game when it was initially released at the end of September 2010. You can see some reviews here on MetaCritic.
Dark Energy did an update to the game about a week ago that addressed numerous issues the people found with the game (see the list here).
Had the studio made these updates to the game before release, I have no doubt it would have done much better in the market.
Based on Dark Energy’s initial reaction to the feedback, I think the problem was that they either didn’t do enough external play testing or just ignored people’s feedback. It’s difficult to keep an open mind about a game you’ve been working on for quite some time. Fresh players are an invaluable source for a clear perspective on the game experience and you discount what they say at your own risk. Obviously you should not change your game to adapt to every whim of every play tester, but if someone is getting frustrated or confused while playing your game, that’s a clear sign that something should change.
I’m sure they’ve learned their lesson, but what a price to pay!
So like I said, I really enjoyed the game and I hope they will release a sequel. But this time, I hope it’s after addressing play test feedback.