Archive for December, 2010

Can you make money on XBLIG?

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

MoneyGrab
image by Steve Wampler

Can you make money on XBLIG? This question has been on my mind for over a year now and recently I’ve been researching it a lot, so I thought I’d share my findings with you.

I love XBLIG, it has some really awesome games on it for hardly any money. Also XNA is bliss to program in. I’d dearly love it to be a successful platform, but unfortunately I’m not so sure it is…

Here are some things I’ve discovered:

- You most likely won’t make any money at all, not even chump change. Many games make < $100, no kidding. But many are bad. Better games can make several hundred dollars, and the best can make a few thousand dollars (based on recent stats on the Creators Club Forums).
- To make a few thousand dollars you have to make really stand out excellent games that get in the top 50 download or rated charts, or on the IGN picks (People have not done much external advertising yet except for the Winter Uprising thing. Although there are a few review sites mentioning XBLIG games. Marketing may well be vital to making money on the platform.)
- So if you make a few thousand dollars from a great game (say $5-$10 over quite a few months), that means you need to make a game in a month and pay absolute minimum for content (graphics/music etc.) to make it worthwhile in my opinion. Plus it has to be awesome and maybe have a silly hook to get downloads and convert well. That is NOT an easy task at all. Probably <1% of people will manage it.
- Some of the best devs who are making the most money are considering quitting XBLIG (according to their blogs). Not a good sign.
- Sure that Zombie game made a ton of money, and some of the early games have done OK, but now there's a huge volume of less that stellar titles on it which probably puts a lot of people off even bothering to download anything. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that it's open and anyone can make a game and get it on a console, cool! But it's crappy if you want to make your game stand out and make money.
- Another problem is eyeballs. The Indie games are a bit hidden away on the Game Marketplace and not many people check them out. Some really great games only get 10K-20K downloads during the launch period (and plenty get <1000 downloads), and if they convert high (10%-20%, which is entirely possible) that might be OK. But that is a fraction of the total Xbox users. Casual games will EASILY get 10x (and even 100x) that many downloads on a portal (but will convert at a lower %)
- Personally I'm going to make some games for XBLIG for fun (early in 2011) and because I like XNA. It will be a good learning exercise. But it may be smart of me to think more about iPad, Facebook, and Download games later in 2011.

I hope that things will change it will become a very successful platform, but I'm not sure how or when that could happen.

Have more info? Perhaps you disagree? Please let me know.

Submitted Holiday Bonus for XBLIG to Peer Review

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Holiday Bonus

Hi all, I just submitted Holiday Bonus for XBLIG to Peer Review.

If you have XNA CC membership, please help me peer review it by visiting this page.

Thanks in advance! Really need to get this passed by Christmas :-)

James Mintram (Mintratech) did an awesome job of the programming. He had a match-3 engine that he converted to use all the Holiday Bonus stuff, he has worked tirelessly for a couple of weeks to get it ready.

We are excited to see how well it does, and I’ll report back on that after it goes live.

Handed in my notice. Full-time Indie again in Jan!

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Today I handed in my notice (30 days) at Big Fish Games Vancouver after being there for just over 2 years. So by Jan 15th 2011 I’ll be Indie again under my old banner of Grey Alien Games – woot!

I’m totally “stoked” about this as I’ve got a ton of things I really want to do and I’ve met some amazing people over here in Vancouver who I’m looking forward to teaming up with. Also if any of you want to team up or are interested in working with me as a design consultant, let me know! I specialise in Casual Games and Facebook games and I’m passionate about arcade/retro games.

To pre-empt any “reason for quitting” questions, let’s just say that I need to do my own thing again and leave it at that. Thx.

Also, in the Autumn of 2011 I’ll be moving back to the UK because my wife’s work visa will run out (mine was tied to Big Fish Games but hers was not because she was a “dependent”) – unless something happens before then that makes it possible to stay.

Wish me luck in 2011! And good luck to all of you too.