My little Indie game has grossed $2,000,000! I’m completely blown away! Thank you so much to all those players out there that bought the game!.
Where did all that money come from? Read on, I’ll show you.
I recently did an ‘Ask Me Anything’ on Reddit (You can read it here) and the most asked question from budding Indie Devs was, ‘How much money have you made?’. I remember having difficulty finding sales data for Indie games when I started out, so I thought I’d share mine now.
For those that aren’t familiar with Beat Hazard, it a music driven twin stick shooter. It takes tracks from your music collection and uses the power of that music to drive game play. It looks a something like this:
I’m a 1 man indie developer. I was made redundant a few years ago after 15 years working for main stream studios. At that point I wanted to give indie development a go. So far it’s gone amazingly well!
Beat Hazard is coming up on its 3rd birthday and is now available on XBLIG, PC, Mac, PS3 & iOS. It has also just been released on Android (Details here)
Given that the game has been out for so long and is now on quite a few platforms I thought I’d share some sales comparison data with you. I know how scarce this sort of information is so I hope you find it useful. So onto the good stuff...
The first thing that jumps out is how Steam just kicks ass! Not only does the Steam version dwarf the income from other platforms, it keeps coming back to life like some lovable cash making zombie. Let’s look at how Valve helps developers make that happen:
The Mighty Power of Steam
(a) I added an iTunes support a few months after the game came out. You can see that the extra exposure gave the game a good kick.
(b) Beat Hazard was on sale during the Steam Xmas sale 2010. It was 50% off with one day at 70%. Also, Valve were giving away prizes for collecting special Xmas achievements. I added a survival achievement especially for the sale and that’s where a lot of the sales came from. Huge numbers of players bought the game at 70% off just to get the special achievement. (And a lot of those players went on to become true fans of the game)
(c) To get the game approved for PSN I had to add extra features to the game (new modes, enemies, perks, weapons etc). I released these changes as the Ultra DLC on Steam. Just after this Valve had a summer sale where I added a Gold Ship to the game as a special sale prize. The Gold Ship was hugely popular and generated a lot of sales.
(d) Another special Xmas sale involving collecting achievements to unlock prizes. This time I added an achievement where you had to survive 5 minutes while playing to Christmas music (Mwhahaha!) I think it drove some players up the wall with that one.
(e) The last summer sale. This was just a normal discount sale without special prizes etc.
What’s amazing it just how successful Steam sales are. They are just awesome. With a little extra work and a special version, Valve turns a normal sale into a buying and playing frenzy which everyone can enjoy. An important thing to note is that sales after a sale aren’t affected, if anything they go up due to the extra exposure.
Ok, let’s have a look at the other platforms:
Normalised Platform Split
Seeing Past the Steam
Sony EU vs. Sony US
Note: Sony US pay per quarter and Sony EU pay per month. For these graphs I’ve averaged out the quarterly payments into monthly ones.
The US version has done marginally better than the EU one, but the difference isn’t huge.
Of course this is data from just one game, so I’d say don’t assume my data is general.
It’s easy to see how successful you can be if you get on Steam. Steam sales are not just the only thing Value do well though; I feel that a big part of their success is how well they treat their developers. For those that don’t know, Steam has an excellent API which is very easy to work with, they don’t have a certification process and you can upload new version any time you want. They treat you with respect and you’re allowed to make your own mistakes (and are free to sort it out when you do).
Console holders really need to take a leaf out of their book. They should lighten up and allow developers to more easily interact and respond to their community of players.
I hope you’ve found this breakdown useful. If you’re an Indie dev slaving over your love of labour, good luck with whatever project you’re working on. I hope you do well!
Oh yeah, did I say Beat Hazard was out on Android? Grab it here