Archive for December, 2012

PC is not dead and mobile is shit (with Charts!)

Monday, December 17th, 2012

I’ve track a lot of data about my indie business in a giant spreadsheet and recently I did an analysis of 3 games to see the breakdown in sales per platform. I had a gut feeling that PC way outperformed Mac and mobile but I wanted to 100% confirm that.

Just in case it’s not clear from the image here’s the percentage split:
– PC 91%
– Mac 6%
– Mobile 3%
– Console 0%

3 games = $160,800

I analysed the sales of the following 3 games:

– The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: Released Nov 2006 Total revenue = $55,800
– Holiday Bonus. Released Dec 2006. Total revenue = $54,000
– Spring Bonus: Released April 2011. Total revenue = $51,000

Distribution Methods

Those three games have been released in the following places:

– Direct sales via my site on PC/Mac
– Mac App Store
– Numerous casual portals including Big Fish Games, iWin, Real, Oberon, Amazon etc. Mostly PC but some have taken Mac versions.
– iOS
– Google Play/Kindle/Nook
– XBLIG (only for Holiday Bonus)

It should be noted that the Mac versions of Holiday Bonus and Oz came out about 1 year after the PC version, so they have not has as long to catch up with PC sales.

Also it should be noted that Holiday Bonus mobile was released in Dec 2011, and Spring Bonus mobile was released in April 2012. There is currently no mobile version of Oz.

So yes, obviously my pie chart is skewed in favour of PC, although Mac has had a pretty good chance to compete.

Only one game was released on XBLIG as an experiment and clearly that market isn’t interested in casual games judging by the poor revenue, which is fair enough. Conversion rate is actually pretty good (>20%), so many people who play it do actually buy it, but downloads are just super-low.


Of course my mobile games haven’t been on sale for as long as the PC/Mac versions, so haven’t had a fair shot. However comparing the launch of my mobile games to the PC version, there is still a huge difference in revenue.

I’ve self-published one mobile game and used a publisher for another one. The published game definitely did better, so that’s useful information. Even though it’s nice to self-publish and track your own sales stats and have complete control etc, I believe you are more likely to make money by using a good publisher – unless you have a great game that can garner tons of press attention. My games are “just” casual games and so the press is basically not interested.

I do have an Oz mobile port on the way and Holiday Bonus GOLD was just self-published on mobile (it was a last minute thing so not enough time to get a publisher), plus I’ve got something in the pipeline for Spring Bonus. So I’ve not given up on mobile yet and I expect my mobile revenue to grow, but still I don’t think it’ll touch the PC revenue.

Spring Bonus (last 19 months)

I produced a revenue by platform pie chart just for Spring Bonus because it’s a much more recent game than the other two so presents a more accurate picture. Here it is:

You can see that mobile revenue is higher than Mac but still less than 10%.


Well the article title says it all: PC is not dead and mobile is shit.

Of course I make a certain type of game and the market is more geared up to sell PC copies of those, and indies releasing PC games on Steam certainly find they can do pretty well on there too compared to other platforms. Other developers are having great success on mobile – good for them. But I would urge caution in the mobile market. It’s HUGELY over-saturated and hard to get noticed. I got my existing games ported to mobile as a low-risk approach, but there are teams of developers out there spending 6-12 months on mobile games and I personally think that’s a recipe for disaster in most cases.

Looking at my numbers, perhaps I’d be best sticking to PC only? Putting all my energy into that and not buying expensive Macs (and constantly upgrading the OS and Xcode, and farting around with provisioning profiles and certificates) and not buying an ever growing army of mobile devices to test on. Most devs have a PC anyway, even if they just play games on it! For me anyway, PC is the clear winner.

If you are a cross-platform dev and want to share your numbers in the comments, that would be awesome. Thanks!

Holiday Bonus GOLD is out for PC/Mac/iPad/Android!

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Yay! Holiday Bonus GOLD is out today!

You can play it on PC, Mac, iPad and Android. Please click this link to find out more.

Holiday Bonus GOLD is an enhanced version of the original classic Holiday Bonus game. It has twice as many levels as the original – bringing the total to 110! Also the PC/Mac versions have the ability to toggle Widescreen mode (to turn off stretching on some monitors) and to hide the custom mouse cursor, plus other technical improvements have been made. The iPad and Android versions have got sharper graphics along with all the new levels.

This game is super-popular this time of year so please check it out and tell your friends and family. It’s even possible to buy it as a gift if you buy the PC/Mac version from my site.

I hope you enjoy this game, I know I had great fun making it!

Thanks 🙂

Epic Chart Time! 7 years of sales from 5 games. Total $156,806 and 45,000 units.

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Click on the image above to see it enlarged.

I’ve been tracking the monthly sales of all my games since 2005 when I first went indie and I recently decided to combine 5 of them into a single chart and it proved to be very interesting!

The 5 games are:
– Xmas Bonus (Dec 2005)
– Easter Bonus (Mar 2006)
– The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Nov 2006)
– Holiday Bonus (Dec 2006)
– Spring Bonus (April 2011)

Two of my other games, Fairway Solitaire and Unwell Mel, are not included in the chart because they were contract jobs for Big Fish Games (BFG). Nor is any of my revenue from consultancy, advertising, employment at Big Fish Games etc. – this is just the revenue from 5 of my own games on multiple platforms (PC/Mac/XBLIG/iOS/Android/WP7)

A note on revenue

[EDIT] I realised that November 2006 was wrong. It should have been $9632.43 due to $7K from retail deals for Oz. That actually means the total is $163,806!

Note that the revenue is the net royalties paid to me after publisher/distributor fees. Most of my sales come from the casual portals who take anywhere from 60%-80% for themselves. Yes, you read that right.

If I assume the portals take an average of 70% then the gross revenue from those games is over $500,000. If the portals only took 30% (like Apple/Steam/Google), I would have a very different living standard now…

Units Sold

Here’s a chart showing the units sold each month. It’s pretty similar to the revenue chart but there are some differences which I’ll explain below.

Click on the image above to see it enlarged.

First Year

– Looking at the first year on the Units Sold chart you can see when Xmas Bonus came out in Dec 2005 and when Easter Bonus came out in Mar 2006. There are tiny spikes for those. The revenue isn’t tracked accurately per month for those titles, which is why there’s a big spike in June 2006 because I logged it all then.

– During my first year as an indie, those games only made me $1562, which is clearly not enough to live on. I supplemented my income with IT consultancy work, and went into debt whilst I worked on my next two games.


– I spent most of 2006 writing a new game game engine for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz which I then reused for Holiday Bonus. This is why the two games were launched very close to each other. This is the first big spike on the chart.

– After that you can see a declining 4 year long tail with spikes every December. The spikes are entirely due to me asking the portals to re-promote Holiday Bonus every Christmas.


– During 2007/2008 I was doing control work for BFG and so there are no new titles.

– Note that in December 2009 the units sold spike is very high but the revenue isn’t as high comparatively. That’s because the game was on sale for $2.99 on BFG and so even though a lot of units were sold, revenue wasn’t huge.

– During 2009/2010 I was living in Vancouver working for BFG and so there are no new game releaesd. You can see the revenue had dropped right down and I needed to do something, so I did…

Spring 2011 – Spring Bonus

– In Jan 2011 I quit my job at BFG and went indie again. I made Spring Bonus which I shipped in April 2011 on multiple casual portals including some who had never taken my games before. That’s the first really huge spike.

– After the launch of Spring Bonus you’ll notice that the revenue doesn’t always correspond with unit sales. That’s because some of the new portals have different business models including making money from advertising or pay per minute of play.

Winter 2011 – Reusing IP

– Towards the end of 2011 I had two epic ideas: After the success of the localised version of Spring Bonus, I thought I should localise Holiday Bonus and Oz and get them on BFG. I also thought I should try and get Holiday Bonus and Oz on the new portals who never took those games in the past. Both ideas worked and panned out very well and led to the massive spike in December 2011 and have contributed to the pool of higher monthly revenue I’m currently receiving.

2012 so far

– The spike in spring 2012 is a mixture of things. There’s a spike in units sold in April due to Spring Bonus being re-promoted but the revenue spike is in May. This is actually a big payment from one of the portals for Holiday Bonus and Oz, and it’s non-unit sales revenue! These payments seem to arrive on a 3 month cycle and that’s why the graph is so bumpy in recent times.

– I’ve also released a couple of mobile games (Holiday Bonus and Spring Bonus) over the last year or so and there are more coming soon. However, mobile has not been a big earner for me. Most of the revenue is from sales of the PC/Mac download versions, and 99% of that is from the portals. My direct sales are very poor but I don’t put much effort into them.

– Finally do not worry if Oct/Nov 2012 look a bit low. I simply haven’t received all the royalty reports yet.


I’ve said it before in other posts, but… wow games have a really long tail! Especially if you can maximise the IP in terms of localising it, getting new distributors to take it, and getting it on new platforms/devices.

Also note that I struggled to make money for a long time at the start. If you are new to being indie make sure you get your first few games out there quickly to see what the real world is like! Also make sure you have at least a year’s worth of savings stored up to live off, preferably more.

Being indie is a long-term game. If you are dedicated, you can make it work. Good luck!

What’s next

Last week I finished Holiday Bonus GOLD, and it is coming out on a bunch of portals soon as a new game on some, and as an update on others. This should keep my Christmas sales spikes going for a few more years. It’s also coming out for iPad and hopefully Kindle. Oz mobile is coming out soon too, in early 2013.

I’ve also been helping Klei Entertainment with with Eets Munchies, which is due out next year. Plus I’m porting Titan Attacks to mobile for Puppy Games, which is also due out next year.

So watch this space!

Please share this article as I’m sure many people will find it interesting. Thanks!