Why did Freespace 2 sell much less the Freespace one?

THis is something I can’t really understand. Freespace 1 think I sold over 100,000 copies in the US. However Freespace 2 didn’t even sell half of that. Why didn’t the people who bought Freespace 1 buy 2? In fact most people I know who bought 2 didn’t even play part 1. Was the first one bad or something and that turned off people from buying part 2?

Marketing takes the most frequent blame.

Yep. Over here at least it pretty much just popped onto the shelves and that was that.

Frankly, while FS2 had a better online component, FS1 was a better singleplayer game. Still, I agree that marketing was a big part of it. Freespace was just amazing, and had the strength of the Descent name. All sorts of magazines and websites made a big deal out of it. By the time Freespace 2 came out, it was really more of the same and the Descent name wasn’t as good anymore.

FS1 really did some incredible things with EAX sound that no one was really doing at that point too.

They didn’t use the Descent brand over here. The first one was called Conflict: Freespace - The Great War, the second just Freespace 2. I don’t think I remember seeing anyone talk about multiplayer at the time - certainly not our magazines.

  1. Marketing.
  2. People don’t buy space sims at the moment.

With 1, you could potentially fix 2, but so far that hasn’t worked for Starlancer, Freelancer, I War (my fave of the bunch)…

Hopefully we’ll see general consumer interest in them rekindle as it did for RPGs in the late 90’s.

I will once again trot out the conspiracy theory that it was the atrocious box cover design that doomed FS2. Could it get any more bland than that?


  1. space sims = dead, for now.
  2. there was no hook that was apparent to differentiate it from the first one. It was MOTS. In my case, I resisted buying it at $49 simply because it looked like a cookie cutter sequel. $29 was when I caved…

There’s your answer, blackwolf, it was all Kool Moe Dee’s fault.

"With 1, you could potentially fix 2, but so far that hasn’t worked for Starlancer, Freelancer, I War (my fave of the bunch)… "

Anybody know what Freelancer has done in sales?

I’m sure Derek would know… :)

I think Freelancer was one of the top selling games when it first came out but dropped quickly due to bad word of mouth. However due to the very high initial sales it looks like there’s some demand for a space-sim out there

I preferred FS2 to 1 but both are IMO the best space sims ever made. I think freelancer fell apart because its just not fun once you reach a certain point. Its not dynamic enough…now a neverwinter nights type of setup in space would be cool.


I think the reason Freespace 2 tanked started with the need for a joystick and ended with the lack of marketing. I think the reason Freelancer tanked was that it was a lousy game that didn’t need a joystick. Now if Freelancer had been a sequel (and I mean a true sequel, not one of those “set in the same universe as another flop” kind of games), I suspect its sales would have been better. I need look no further than Warcraft 3 to back that up (which is not to say Warcraft 3 sucks, but it does disappoint IMO).

That having been said, had they made a killer accessible space mercenary game (and IMO this has yet to be done better than 1984’s Sundog which says it all) with an amazingly fluid and clear interface (kinda like Rise of Nations managed in the RTS genre hint hint), I suspect it would have reached a wider audience. I respect what Freelancer attempted, but Ed Wood used to try really hard too. The talent just wasn’t there.

What currently amazes me is the lack of a Colony Wars clone on the XBox and PS2. The controllers on both those machines have plenty of buttons to do a decent simplified space shooter (as the Starfighter games have demonstrated).

So what’s my point: simple, game companies are chickenshit lemmings and the only people innovating are the auteurs who mostly make even worse crap and exacerbate the problem by providing evidence against innovation.

But lemme say a big thank you to Big Huge Games for actually doing all the commonsense things with the interface to Rise of Nations as opposed to losing all the game settings between rounds, farms that need periodic micromanagement, peons too stupid to find something to do when you don’t order them around, trade routes that must be physically established, factories too dumb to just keep on producing lost units, and well I could go on, but here’s my second point: as long as the kind of people who think the above screwball interface decisions are good ones are the guys in charge of making the next big space opera, don’t expect change anytime soon.

Aye Carumba I thank the gods I only paid $20 for Age of Empires II and that I played a friend’s copy of Warcraft 3. Yes I’m off topic a bit, but I think I’m addressing the core problem of this genre through use of another genre. Am I the only person in the universe neurotic enough to think that the crappy interfaces in these games ought to be a bigger issue in their reviews? There’s so much right about them that gets hideously disfigured by interfaces from 1988 or so…

Uh, if it’s because of the joystick, how come Freespace 1 sold?

Simpler times?

Maybe the name Descent: Freespace helped too.

I bought the first game (and enjoyed it a lot) but I didn’t buy the second one. Honestly, I don’t remember anyone making a big deal about it at the time. So I didn’t pick it up and only MUCH later did everyone tell me it was the “greatest evar!” Now I can’t find it anywhere.

Ah Trebeekkk, I’ll have to take butter marketing for 100, just like I buttered your mother last night…

Because it came out first, and joystick games have done successively worse? Seriously, marketing was a big cause of FS2’s poor commercial performance, but what joystick games since FS1, in 1998, have sold more than 100,000 copies? I’m not sure there’s any, other than Microsoft’s flight sim series.

MS Freelancer Microsoft CD Win 95 3/2003 Games 66,293 .3% $3,172,827