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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessIndie Game Sales Figures and Postmortems
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Author Topic: Indie Game Sales Figures and Postmortems  (Read 73557 times)
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« Reply #20 on: September 01, 2013, 07:01:31 am »

it depends on your costs of living. teegee lives in poland, so 40k is like living like a king there. 100k is only sad if you live in a very high cost of living area, like san francisco or something
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Sean Han Tani / seagaia
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« Reply #21 on: September 01, 2013, 08:32:14 am »

yeah...chicago for me is 20k/year tops (perhaps even less), so the money from anodyne goes a really long way. not so much if I want to try a new city out though. new york's great buuutttt

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« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2013, 09:13:53 am »

it depends on your costs of living. teegee lives in poland, so 40k is like living like a king there.
Man. I wish. Cheesy

I'm still on the level of borderline poverty, unable to afford health care or even do a basic refit of my apartment. I'm able to just barely survive to the next release, and in time our passive income may grow to reasonable levels, but so far it's less than my last job.

You have to remember that we split profits between me and the artist, and also that before Cinders was out, I had to live for a year and a half on savings alone. $40k after 1.5 year of development and 9 months of sales is really not that much. I also don't know why you assume costs of living are that much lower here (unless you want to compare with the likes of New York or San Francisco). EU countries tend to be more expensive than the US, even if a thing or two may be cheaper in Poland.

good to see cinders did so well teegee -- you beat immortal defense's sales already. i'll have to beat you again with SD
Haha! This time you wish! It's gonna be hard to top a game done in 1.5 year with one that took over 4. Especially as our next VN is close to completion and may top Cinders.  Cheesy
« Last Edit: September 01, 2013, 09:37:44 am by TeeGee » Logged

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« Reply #23 on: September 01, 2013, 09:17:17 am »

6 years, not just over 4. i started SD in june of 2007
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« Reply #24 on: September 01, 2013, 09:29:59 am »

Cool topic, also feel like this will become manbaby central.

Yeah, I'm going to refrain from posting stats on poor-selling iOS games unless there's a pretty nice postmortem attached to it. Otherwise the ratio of them to everything else is going to be 99:1.

People can feel free to join up and post them in the thread, of course. I just might not include them in the master list unless there's more detail to go along with it.
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« Reply #25 on: September 01, 2013, 09:34:34 am »

6 years, not just over 4. i started SD in june of 2007
Oh, it's no contest then. You may even not bother coming to the ring.  Shrug

On a more serious note, I'm really curious how SD will do. I think it could be a hit just a few years ago, but now the situation is vastly different, the market more difficult, and I have my doubts. I think all depends on if you can get on Steam or not.
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Tom Grochowiak
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« Reply #26 on: September 01, 2013, 10:52:13 am »

@derek - but shouldn't we want the list to be realistic? it's not a good idea to make people think that the average indie game sells like 200k units when it's like 2k units. people need to know what to expect

@teegee - i tend not to trust ideas about market trends. i think there will always be a market for good games. it's the games that are released that determine those trends anyway. it seems like 'oh now i'll make a hidden object game because hidden object games are hot right now' is the wrong mentality to have; you should make what you are best at and most interested in and then create the market for that if that market doesn't exist, and expand it if it does exist
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« Reply #27 on: September 01, 2013, 11:25:17 am »

@derek - but shouldn't we want the list to be realistic? it's not a good idea to make people think that the average indie game sells like 200k units when it's like 2k units. people need to know what to expect

I'd like there to be at least some information about the game - a postmortem or a DevLog. I don't think a figure by itself is very useful, and it will just clutter the list.

I made a bit of an exception with Anodyne because the game has a DevLog here and the devs did some interesting things with marketing, like putting the game on Pirate Bay. I should have been more careful about that because now people are joining just to link their game.

An actual graph that collected thousands of sales numbers so you could really see how much the average indie makes would be cool, but that's not really my aim here. I'll rename the thread to make that more clear.
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« Reply #28 on: September 01, 2013, 12:33:09 pm »

@teegee - i tend not to trust ideas about market trends. i think there will always be a market for good games. it's the games that are released that determine those trends anyway. it seems like 'oh now i'll make a hidden object game because hidden object games are hot right now' is the wrong mentality to have; you should make what you are best at and most interested in and then create the market for that if that market doesn't exist, and expand it if it does exist

Sure. But that has little to do with the fact that the market has changed as a whole.

It's not that there's suddenly no need for great games or that only one genre sells or whatever. But direct sales are increasingly hard to maintain and people moved into buying only from gatekeepers like Steam. If you get there depends on many factors external from quality. Initial fanbase, your skill at marketing, game's virality, other titles coming out at the same time, etc.

Your game won't create a new market or a trend if no one hears about it. For example, I'm almost sure if I released Magi today, I wouldn't sell more than 10 copies.
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« Reply #29 on: September 01, 2013, 01:19:59 pm »

Starseed Pilgrim(2012)$6PC, Max, Linux (Steam + direct)~20k copies/ 11 months

This doesn't include purchases of Probability 0 & Friends, which number at 1.5k for $10 over the same period. I figure the difference between 20k and 22k isn't too significant.

EDIT ah whoops, I missed the 'postmortems' bit (I just got the call from seagaia). I actually have one halfway through in progress, so I'll post again when I post it.
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« Reply #30 on: September 01, 2013, 01:35:03 pm »

I'll play.

Ending(2013)$1/$2iOS, Android$2,430, $38192.5 months

Bear in mind I put the price up right before an article in Der Spiegel appeared on the web. There were a lot of sales on the day that article landed. Before the article however I made the iOS app free for a day. It had 18,000 downloads and then dropped back to its usual crawl. But that massive bulk of free copies may have resulted in that article being written.

This is contrary to the argument of bundles devaluing titles. The dev is still free to put the price sky high after a special offer and reap the benefits of the press that promotional period generated.

I honestly didn't expect a chunk of change after putting the price up. I just felt that the free rides should stop for now. But I sure as hell rubbed my hands with glee when I saw £500 worth of sales for a day on Android. That could have been only £250.
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Sean Han Tani / seagaia
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« Reply #31 on: September 01, 2013, 02:07:46 pm »

yea i needaget around to doing a postmortem but we still have a few big sales planned. steam is easily the most sales though.
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« Reply #32 on: September 01, 2013, 02:23:14 pm »

steam is easily the most sales though.

Yeah, for me too.
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« Reply #33 on: September 01, 2013, 05:50:10 pm »

Sure. But that has little to do with the fact that the market has changed as a whole.

It's not that there's suddenly no need for great games or that only one genre sells or whatever. But direct sales are increasingly hard to maintain and people moved into buying only from gatekeepers like Steam. If you get there depends on many factors external from quality. Initial fanbase, your skill at marketing, game's virality, other titles coming out at the same time, etc.

Your game won't create a new market or a trend if no one hears about it. For example, I'm almost sure if I released Magi today, I wouldn't sell more than 10 copies.

this sounds wrong. you released cinders for direct sales and did way better than magi did

i have heard no indication that direct sales are worse now than in 2007. what is your evidence for this? the only evidence for this that i can think of is jeff vogel saying that it's hard to do direct sales on his site and he needed steam to survive, despite doing direct sales for much of his life prior to that and doing well. but one single case isn't enough evidence of a large trend, especially considering there are still plenty of people using direct sales and doing pretty well (such as cliffski, hanako, amaranthia, etc.)
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« Reply #34 on: September 02, 2013, 01:23:47 am »

Well, it's obvious that veteran developers with established fan bases still manage to maintain healthy direct sales. But don't take these few exceptional success stories for the norm. Besides, I know these developers too noticed that getting coverage and selling direct has become more difficult and are now mainly interested in Steam.

Cinders is a bad example too, as it's a game in a niche genre, with audience still used to buying direct and at "old" prices. I have to say that I find 2500 copies for a very well received VN to be pretty sad, though. What's worse -- it's still among the top direct sellers within the genre. When you compare it to Analogue, which sold over 20k through Steam, it's a pretty big difference.

Bonfire is a more fitting example. I think it's much better than Magi. I'm also a much more recognized developer now than I was 7 years ago. Still, the game is a complete flop so far. Nobody wants to review it or play it, when there are so many cool roguelike-likes available through Steam. Another good one would be MouseCraft by a few friends of mine. These guys did everything right. Produced a very cool and polished puzzle game, made a great website, did some really solid marketing, and launched the game at pay-what-you-want to get more attention. It flopped. It's not that they did something wrong, it's that the market has become much more competitive.

Saturated Dreamers is also more of a "Steam game" to me, and after six years, you can't really talk about being an established developer anymore, hence my doubts.

Also, maybe we should move with our discussion elsewhere? I'm not sure it fits this thread.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2013, 01:36:21 am by TeeGee » Logged

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« Reply #35 on: September 02, 2013, 01:57:07 am »

bonfire isn't released yet though; it's still in preorder status. there isn't even a demo or anything, right? i think it's premature to compare it to magi when you haven't even finished the game yet. magi had poor sales before you finished it too

you still haven't provided much evidence of this claim, it still feels like an arbitrary interpretation to me. is there any actual hard data to show that direct sales have declined? it just seems too anecdotal, and you can find anecdotes in either direction. games doing better on steam than on a site isn't really evidence of a decline because that has always been the case; even in 2007 or earlier, if a game was on steam it got about 10x its direct sales there. also remember how important casual portals were back then, too. even in 2007 i remember developers saying that direct sales were impossible compared to portals.
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« Reply #36 on: September 02, 2013, 02:15:42 am »

bonfire isn't released yet though; it's still in preorder status. there isn't even a demo or anything, right? i think it's premature to compare it to magi when you haven't even finished the game yet. magi had poor sales before you finished it too
It's been released 4.5 months ago. It's publicly available on the site. It's been sent to the press. There's a demo available. Technically, it's still a paid alpha, but it makes little difference. Cinders earned much more in a month of pre-orders (no public demo or anything) than this game through 4.5 months of full availability.

Quote
You still haven't provided much evidence of this claim, it still feels like an arbitrary interpretation to me. is there any actual hard data to show that direct sales have declined? it just seems too anecdotal, and you can find anecdotes in either direction.
It's a bit problematic as most of my data comes from talking to other developers and discussions/stats on closed forums, which I can't really share or point to. Of course, that may make it anecdotal evidence. Or your game may be the exception and sell like crazy (which I hope it will). For me, it's just something obvious to anyone who's been active in the video game industry in the past few years.

I guess the only way to find out is to wait for SD's release. I hope you'll prove me wrong. Unless of course you beat me by far, in which case you are a sellout bastard!  Wink
« Last Edit: September 02, 2013, 02:20:46 am by TeeGee » Logged

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« Reply #37 on: September 02, 2013, 02:18:45 am »

that would still just be anecdotal evidence. whether SD does well or poorly would say absolutely nothing about how good indie direct sales are in general, or whether they've declined. real evidence requires a lot of data, not just individual games

also, perhaps the problem is that nobody knew bonfire was out? i don't remember a 'bonfire released' thread, for example. what have you done to market it, besides send it to people for review? i also remember you explicitly telling me *not* to review it until it's out of alpha (which hasn't happened yet)
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« Reply #38 on: September 02, 2013, 02:32:56 am »

also, perhaps the problem is that nobody knew bonfire was out? i don't remember a 'bonfire released' thread, for example. what have you done to market it, besides send it to people for review? i also remember you explicitly telling me *not* to review it until it's out of alpha (which hasn't happened yet)

I told you to wait for a video and endless mode update's release. It's an actively developed game, so it's hard to tell when it's 100% done Wink.

In any case, I did the same thing I usually do. Pushed it through my social networks (where I got most of the sales), sent it to the press, posted it on forums, reddit, etc. It was enough in Cinders' case. The game stood out among others in the genre, so it quickly gathered some hype in the VN community. It also got a lot of positive reviews and features, which lead to more reviews and features, which lead to more forums and social network posts, and so on. Most of its marketing was happening by itself. I just gave the initial push. Bonfire was largely ignored, so it never got to that critical mass and the traffic soon died out. Admittedly, I did less to promote it as I was busy with Solstice, and it may still catch on after some future update, but it certainly won't reach Cinders. By the way -- Solstice gets more traffic despite me not doing anything outside of keeping a few devlogs and pushing news through our networks.
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« Reply #39 on: September 02, 2013, 03:08:38 am »

hmm, will see if i can review it then. i already played through most of it so that's relatively easy. but perhaps part of the reason is the lower production values and devtime of bonfire vs cinders, though? bonfire's graphics don't look as good as cinder's, it isn't animated at all (the sprites just are warped and stretched), etc. -- you spent like 2 years or something on cinders, and only less than a year on bonfire so far, right? it doesn't look as good in screenshots. and does it even have a trailer? i don't recall one
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