Archive for January, 2009

Indie/Casual Sales Stats from $2.50 to $250,000

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Recently I posted some Fantastic Indie Sales Stats which I collated from a lengthy post on Indiegamer. Then I asked if anyone else on Indiegamer had any sales stats they’d like to post. I got some pretty interesting ones which I’ve summarised below.

Big thanks go to all the forum members for openly sharing their sales. Many people have told me how much they appreciate seeing these sales stats and how motivating they’ve been.


Meds’ Games started the ball rolling with a report of 1 game sold for a net profit of $2.50 minus whatever fees Plimus (the payment provider) charged. Well it’s a start, congrats! I wonder if the sale was from a family member (my mum bought my first few games :-))

$250,000 (well nearly)

In direct contrast to the first sales stat, Scharloposted some great information about a Casual game called Home Sweet Home that they released in December 2007:

$217,000 development cost (actually about 18% less because of Ontario tax credit)
Sales for 1st year : approx $240,000 (not including retail)
Direct sales: <3% of revenues Mac version: <3% of revenues Flash version: <0.05% of revenues The sales are fantastic but the costs are also very high, but that's because they include salaries. So presumeably everyone got paid a decent amount and a profit has been made. Furthermore the game will probably keep on selling for a while yet and now it's all profit. Note how poorly the flash version did, perhaps the target market doesn't play that many flash games or maybe the revenue model was messed up. They've also released two sequels including a Christmas themed one which had a very short development period. These are bound to rake in money and are a good solid base for the company. Congrats to all involved! Casual Games Direct Sales

A friend of mine, Roman, from posted his direct sales stats for his casual games sold in 2008:

$21,650.09 and 1152 units

These are VERY good for direct sales even though they are a 10th of sales of Home Sweet Home (but I bet his games cost less to make as well). I know that he has a mailing list and does lots to promote his site, and I’m sure it’ll keep on growing. He also sells on portals and via retail, and sells affiliate games. He has probably made some pretty good money via those other sales channels. Congrats Roman!

Mobile Games

EnigmaCEO posted some average MONTHLY sales for their mobile device games…

Partner Sites(Handango, Mobihand, ClickGamer):
Blackberry: 300
Windows Mobile: 100

Company Site:
Blackberry: 1
Windows Mobile: 2
PC: 0
Mac: 5

They remarked that they obviously need to increase their direct sales. But their non-direct sales look pretty good to me. I don’t know how much each unit sells for, but 400 units a month is 4800 units a year which seems a very decent number. As the business grows this will get a lot better. Congrats!

Lessons learned: priceless

TimS reported these stats about his game launched in November 2008:

Total sales: 10

Total income: $199.50

Rough income per man-month: $8.31

Lessons learned: priceless

I particularly like the last line. Well as long as they can use those lessons for the next game (and the next game and so on) then hopefully they’ll do OK. Contrats on learning some lessons (and on just releasing a game).

A quick calculation shows that the game took 24 man-months to make. Wow that’s quite a long time for an Indie game. Hopefully they can also improve their marketing and make some more return on the game, but it may just be worth starting a new game soon that they try to finish in 6 months or so – oh and doing some market research too to find out what sells (and even asking people why their last game did not sell so those mistakes can be avoided next time).

Hourly Wage of $0

Chris P posted some comprehensive stats as follows:

Sales: 138 over 18 months
Profit per sale: about $18 (maybe slightly less because of a few %-off promotions)
Profit after e-commerce cut: $18 * 138 = ~$2,484
Expenses: ~$300 on art, ~$400 on audio, ~$200 on business registration, ~$150 wasted on advertising, average of ~$10/month hosting (total $180), about ~$200 on miscellaneous expenses
Net profit: ~$1,000
Net profit per month: ~$55
Equivalent hourly wage: Rounds to $0

Well 138 sales is certainly a start but probably not what they were hoping for. One thing I’ve noticed is that often (not always) the development costs are directly proportional to the profit. So when you spend more on art and music (and a decent programmer) you will probably generate more profit due to the game looking more polished and thus more customers buy it. I found this to be true with my own games for sure. Of course marketing and game quality plays a big part too. But it’s a good general guide – “Speculate to Accumulate” i.e. spend the money to get a bigger return. It’s a gamble but done right it’ll pay out.

Some good news from Chris P is that the game has just been released on Steam so hopefully this will boost the hourly wage somewhat. Congrats on getting on Steam! (I hear it’s not that easy)

Not Enough To Go Full-Time

Zulu Boy reported the following:

“With our first and only game released on PC/Mac we earned around $10K in 2008. That is nice pocket money, but it is clearly not enough for me to go fulltime.”

Agreed, but it’s still a good start in my opinion. My first game never made that much money and never will, nor did my second. Congrats on a great start, hope you keep going.


Acord reported $120 in donations for Blood Frontier which is pretty neat. Perhaps this is an indication that they should charge something for the game, or at least for add-ons or micro-transactions etc? Hopefully they get some ad revenue from the game too…

Tower Defense Game

RinkuHero reported that Immortal Defense has had 435 direct sales from June 1 2008 to the present (mid-Jan). This is 7.5 months roughly.

It’s actually a great game that I strongly recommend (when I first got it it kept me up until 2 or 3am or something). It has an odd vibe and strange graphics but is very addictive indeed. It’s a hardcore Tower Defense style game and I think that getting that many sales in the hardcore Indie downloadable market is pretty darn good going. Congrats!

More Sales Stats

You can find a whole bunch of sales stats on my friend Juuso’s site here.

Some of mine are on there (Xmas Bonus), but they are out of date. Also you can see my Holiday Bonus sales stats here but again they are out of date. Lots more sales have occurred this Christmas (and with the launch of the Mac version) and I’ll post an update once all the December and Jan royalty reports are in (so in March). Keep your eyes peeled 😉 I’ll also post about Wizard of Oz if I can get permission from the producer of that game (I was hired to program it), and I’ll post Xmas and Easter Bonus stats (as they have run their course).

You can also read about how much money I made from selling my Grey Alien BlitzMax Game Framework here. It did pretty well for me as a side project and of course I’ve used it for 4 games meanwhile. Opening it up for sale meant other people helped to test it, fix it and improve it, which was invaluable.

Big Thanks!

So once again, big thanks to everyone who posted sales stats. They are fascinating and I hope that more people will be encouraged to post stats because they provide some hard realism for people thinking of going Indie and also help to motivate people who’ve just started who maybe need to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

New Game, Podcast, and Presentations

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

This is a general update about what’s happening with Grey Alien Games.

On Jan 7th a beta version of my latest game was released and the surveys were very positive, which is good news. The final version will be released on Feb 6th on Big Fish Games. I’m just about to go into crunch mode to cram in loads of last minute features and a cool intro. Of course, as per usual, I still have a huge list of ideas/features that won’t make it into the final game. It’s always a bit sad to release a game that you know you could have made even better, but you can’t just keep on programming a game forever and never release it. The game is still great as is. Besides, often the extra features you want to add in wouldn’t really make any different to sales, they would just push up the development cost.

www.IndustryBroadcast.comhas converted another of my articles about Tips for Finishing a Game into a podcast. It’s funny hearing your own stuff read aloud and interesting how simple changes in inflection or word tweaks by the reader can alter the original meaning. But overall I’m happy with the results. I think it’s a great site packed with great articles. I ought to listen to some on the bus…

Nick Newhard (a designer at BFG Seattle) and I will be speaking at the Vancouver Game Design Expo on Sunday 8th Feb about 10 Secrets to Designing Instantly Enjoyable and Addictive Games. We’ve got a great slideshow lined up but I think we are going to have to talk at light speed to get through it all.

Also in May I’ll be doing a talk at VanDev: Vancouver’s Software Developers Network about Developing Casual Games. It’s a great meetup group that covers many topics. I’ll be discussing Casual Games in general, the technologies involved, and how to get started.

My best articles of 2008

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Yes I know we are quite far into 2009 now (well 23 days) but I thought it would be a good idea to post a summary of my best articles from 2008. I wrote quite a lot last year and some of the articles were excellent (pah! who needs modesty? ;-)) So without further ado, here they are:

My Big News

So a few big things happened to me in 2008, some good and one not so good. In the summer I found out that I’d had a minor hernia which I then promptly got repaired. You can find out why I think it’s worth spending money on your body here. After my hernia was repaired, I trained in earnest and got my 2nd dan black belt in Aikido, which I’m very proud of.

Also in the summer Big Fish Games offered me a job in Vancouver, and Helen and I flew to Seattle to meet everyone in Big Fish Games, and then travelled up to Vancouver to check it out. In the end I accepted the job offer and moved my family here from the UK. It’s really great here and I’m learning many new things and meeting many new people.

As a matter of interest I also made a post called who am I? so that people can get to know me better. Of course some of the information is out of date now that I’ve moved to Vancouver.

Most Popular Blog Post

A post about Fairway Solitaire Cheats was my most popular post based on the number of comments it’s received. The game was a huge success and naturally people google for cheats and my site is at the top of page 😉

Motivation and Game Development

For me motivation is a key factor in developing games. Without good motivation, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever finish making a game. So I’ve written quite a lot of articles about motivation and game development that have been enjoyed by many readers who have been posting positive comments or emailing me with thanks, which is nice, so please keep it up! 🙂

I enjoyed writing this article about visualising goals, positive thinking and taking action and this one about getting better at making games by practising more.

How can I overcome game development obstacles proved very popular although its no-nonsense tone irked some people 😉

And I also explored the topic on everyone’s mind: Is it possible to earn a living making indie or casual games?

There was some practical advice on getting your resume looking good and working as a contractor and how to supply art for programmers as well as tips on improving conversion rate.

After I came back from the Casual Connect event in Amsterdam in February (was great btw), I posted an interesting article with some photos from a slideshow called Passion vs Profit. This is something that really interests me because many people seem to think it has to be one or the other instead of BOTH 🙂

Finally here’s a bit of info about portals/distributors including: Oberon, match-3s on BFG and portal game submissions.

Sales Stats and Affiliate Schemes

Early in the year I wrote about two portal affiliate schemes that I was talking part in: Reflexive and BFG.

I also posted some information about the amount of money I’ve made per hour from my products, but keep in mind that this is now out of date as all the figures have gone up since then – I’ll make a new post soon once the Christmas royalty reports are in.

In May I posted some Holiday Bonus Sales Statistics but again I’ve done quite well since then and will post some new stats soonish…

Also at the start of the year I made a post containing tips for finishing a game which was a summary of some of my best articles from previous years. It’s well worth checking out.


I also made a couple of funny blog posts that you might find amusing. I hope to post more like this just for fun. One is about Stinky Boots and the other is about Scone Management. On and this article about classic 90s marketing prompted some interesting discussion.

And there we have it, I hope that you found this summary useful.