Holiday Bonus Sales Statistics

Holiday Bonus was a match-3 “reskin” with some new features and a meta game based on my earlier Wizard of Oz game (which I programmed for Injoy Games). So far I’ve logged 262 hours making that game (I keep a spreadsheet). That includes coding, graphics, testing etc + marketing, releasing to portals and stuff like that – basically everything. I did most of those hours in a super intense month, then spent a couple of weeks doing the marketing and contract signing with portals etc. It was all a bit last minute, but Christmas is a pretty non-negotiable deadline!



I contacted portals well in advance of the release date and gave them some screenshots and talked about my previous game in order to “prime” them for the release.

When it was ready I sent it to them and we sorted out the contracts. I chose some big portals like BFG, Reflexive, Oberon and some smaller ones that didn’t perform as well. Real turned it down because it was seasonal.

I also put it on my own site, mentioned it on two forums and added it to my forum sig, then did a shareware submission and a submission.

Also did a small email shot. Even printed some little flyers for my son to take to school.

A year after it’s initial release I pretty much repeated the process (because it’s seasonal).


Well I already made 3 match-3s and this was my 4th so pretty much all the research was done. Basically it just consisted of playing all the other match-3s and top casual games for ideas and to see what sort of polish level I’d need.


2578 sales so far (it still sells like 30 a month even in the summer). It’s main two big peaks were Christmas 2006 and 2007. Almost all of the sales were via portals, my direct sales are crap, 22, woo. This is a testament to the power of the portals and the crapness of my marketing/site.

Gross revenue: £5262 (>$10,000). Expenses (art and music, software passport, marketing): £1155. Net Profit £4106.

Therefore I earned £15.67 per hour making that game, and it goes up every day. That’s not great but it’s pretty good, you could maybe live off that if you banged one game out after the other without gaps. I used to earn £30 an hour as an IT consultant so it was a step down in earnings but a step up in fun.

I don’t know if I can be bothered to push it again this Christmas or not (and if the portals will bother), although I will probably send the portals a Mac version which I now have ready, and which they have expressed a keen interest in. Don’t know how many sales that will bring, but it’s all profit.

My primary money goal was to make back my expenses, which I did, and then make at least £10 per hour, which I did.

Another motivation for the game was simply to make another nice polished portfolio piece which ended up getting me hired for BFG, so that worked too (well actually they hired me as a result of my Oz game, but Holiday Bonus added extra credence). I always get several job offers after releasing my games, which is nice 🙂

Target Audience

Casual gamers, although a reasonable number of hardcore gamers have confessed to liking it.

I aimed the game at this market, but I also enjoyed making it because I like making pretty much any game (I’m not up my own arse like the “making it for art’s sake” crowd) + I liked Bejewelled when I first played it.

Additional Info

Don’t forget that a lot of the work for this game was actually done a) in my game framework which took a couple of hundred hours (I sell that and it makes good money) and b) my Oz game which also took hundreds of hours. It wasn’t as if I started from scratch, otherwise it would have taken a LOT longer and my hourly salary would have been awful.

I’ve made hardly any money from my first two games btw, my hourly wage for those is a joke, like £3 per hour. But I look upon them as “training” (before that I made some free games as training when I had another job, and I’ve also been making games as a hobby since I was 8). I think it’s the same with most Indies, their first few games aren’t that successful, but they gradually learn the ropes and build up the business over a couple of years. Making one killer first game is very unlikely I would say – yet a lot of people hinge their hopes on this, which I would say is unwise.

I would say that my 5th game, Fairway Solitaire, could be called a “hit” due to very large sales numbers and revenue, and extremely high Conversion Rate. However, I’m hoping to eclipse that with my 6th game which is in progress now and is due for a late summer release.

4 Responses to “Holiday Bonus Sales Statistics”

  1. Phil Newton Says:

    Congratulations on the sales, especially considering the game is still selling a decent amount so long after Christmas. It’s a shame sales through your own site aren’t so great. Is it an area you’ll be working to improve?

    I’ve kept time logs of my daily work before, but never for individual projects. I’d be quite interested in seeing in how you (and other developers) have done that.

  2. Grey Alien Games Says:

    Thanks Phil. I would like to improve my own site sales (and affiliate sales from my site) BUT it’s not big on my agenda at the moment because I’m making a game full time for BFG and the money is good, so it probably wouldn’t be cost effective. If I ever make games on my own again, then certainly I would need to boost up my site.

    I mean to post about the spreadsheet system that I use to track my time in the near future, so keep an eye out for it.

  3. Roman Says:

    I have to say that I am always impressed by people that are able to track their worktime so precisely. I run so many projects that tracking time would take so much time that it would be pain. I need to get rid of some of those projects.

    Your own site is your kingdom. I don’t know portal sales stats yet, but my site gives me nice amount of money and with the increasing bar to get on portal (and sell serious amount of units) good website is the key to the long run success.

  4. Grey Alien Games Says:

    It’s very quick for me to make log entries. I hit Ctrl+L as a shortcut to load up my main log and typing an entry takes 10 secs. I also have other logs for different projects in a single folder on the desktop so I can load them quickly if need be.

    You are right about boosting your own website, but I simply don’t have much use for it at the moment + I’m too busy to do much about it anyway.