Def – my LD26 game, embiggened

Posted by (twitter: @OMGWTFGAMES)
October 9th, 2014 3:11 am

So let’s call this a double October challenge. Last October I released a game on OUYA (sales postmortem to follow) – now I’m releasing it on PC/ Mac / Linux with a huge update.

I’ve just finished a major content update for Def (+15 levels) and have released a version for desktop computers publicly for the first time. You can see all my devblog entries on Def here.

<marketing mode>Buy it here on itch.io ! The perfect pumpkin-free Halloween gift for someone you love. Or something like that. </marketing mode>

I’m calling it a beta and selling it discounted while I gather feedback for final tweaks and bugfixes.

Here’s the trailer. It’s intended to market the game rather than give a completely objective representation of every element of the gameplay – as a result it doesn’t show much of the ‘interactive fiction’ story parts since those are (hopefully) amusing to read but generally boring to watch.

Now let’s look at the sales postmortem for OUYA where I initially released a 15 level version (soon to be 30).

I released the first post-LD paid version of Def in early October 2013 on OUYA. The first 3 levels are free, the rest unlocked via IAP. It was intended to take 3 months to develop the game jam prototype into the full game. It ended up taking six (alongside doing six One-Game-A-Month games), but as a side effect I produced some spin-off tech I intend to clean up and sell on the Unity Asset Store. The mega-update I’ve just released took about another six months (alongside other projects) to add new enemies and weapons, build ~15 levels and expand the story. Upon reflection I spent far too long working on the new content and features for the PC / Mac / Linux release, especially for a low development budget ‘niche’ game that by its very design won’t appeal to everyone. Still, it would be nice if I sell a few copies on itch.io and give the sales on OUYA a little boost for a while. Other platforms may follow.

I chose to target OUYA for the initial release because:

  1. I personally like the platform to play on, despite some of the early teething problems
  2. I felt like the market wasn’t as saturated as other stores and platforms, making it easier to stand out
  3. In May 2013 when I started working on the post-LD version it still wasn’t clear if OUYA would be huge or die post-Kickstarter (so far it’s done neither)

As a bonus, it turned out the OUYA team are great to work with, and they gave the game front page exposure that it probably wouldn’t have got on other platforms and stores. A drawback, of course, is that the OUYA market is (probably) teeny tiny compared with Google Play / Apple App Store / Steam. We don’t really know how much smaller (~60,000 consoles in the Kickstarter + X? since then), but by all reports of downloads and sales from other developers, a lot smaller.

Any advice you’ll read about selling video games will remind you that quietly developing a game and pooping it out somewhere won’t get you many sales. Build it and they won’t come. Market it and they might. I sent out two or three download keys to OUYA-specific press, and the game was covered by Super Game Droid, ReviOUYA and Day of the OUYA (now sadly defunct). Someone was cool enough to do a Let’s Play. I made an IndieDB entry & a few news posts. I didn’t do any significant pre-release marketing, but promoted the game to my own followers on Twitter and Google+, making sure I didn’t overdo it. I left the bigger sites that might cover indie games alone since I wanted them to cover it once it was out of beta on other platforms (eg desktop computers).

Def OUYA sales

So, what are the numbers ? How did this weird ass little game with minimal pre-release marketing sell ? Def on OUYA has been purchased 51 times since it was released one year ago (the number in the images says 59, but there are 8 donation-purchases of some other games I have on the OUYA Discover store). About half these purchases were at the introductory sale price ($1.99) and half were at the full (but still cheap !) price of $3.99. OUYA takes a ‘standard’ 30 % cut, leaving me with $57.20. Hooray ! $57.20 > $1 ! But it’s still not much and I won’t actually receive it until I reach $150 due to OUYAs payout policy – an important point worth considering for low revenue games. As a side note: the conversion rate from download to purchase was about 2.4 % in that initial 3 month period. I believe this is generally better than mobile, but it depends which data sources you believe. Was it a mistake discounting on launch ? It’s not easy to do a properly controlled experiment to find out, either way we are talking small numbers of sales here, and certainly nothing remotely near the numbers required to consider a game on a given platform ‘commercially viable’. Still I sincerely appreciate the support of those that have bought it so far. Now if I can multiply those numbers by 100 for my next significant game, then by 100 again for the next one, we might be talking hookers, coke and saucy puppet shows on Notches yacht (thx for playing my LD13 game dude, no one deserved to have to play that thing :) ).

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