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overworldtheme: (vision riders)
Thursday, May 1st, 2014 01:01 pm
[Cross-posted from the Vision Riders Blog]

Let's talk numbers!

In making Another Star, I didn't plan for it to make enough income to live off. I'm not that niave. There are a lot of indie games out there to compete with for attention—not to mention games and entertainment in general—and going into the game's development, I hadn't released a game in over ten years. The game was primarily meant to pad my portfolio and generate some freelance work so I could get back on track, both financially and in regards to my career.

To that end, I was hoping for about 1,000 sales in the first three months. I didn't necessarily expect to get that much, but it was a goal to shoot for. 1,000 sales would earn Vision Riders a little under $9,000 after fees, which I felt would be enough to proceed straight into another six month project.

However, the minimum number of sales I decided I would need was a mere 100 total in the first three months. That would give me enough to pay for a critically-needed upgrade to my aging computer, and maybe even have a little left over on the side for spending money. To reach that, I'd only need about one sale a day for three months straight. That should be easy enough, I thought.

Another Star first went on sale on 20 March, 2014. As of 30 April, it has sold only 24 copies across all retailers, and brought in approximately $217.92 (after initial fees). Here's the raw numbers:

Another Stars sales numbers chart for March and April 2014

The gaps, of course, mean that I'm not meeting my one-a-day minimum sales. In order to reach the meager 100 sales, the game really needs to be at about twice the sales numbers that it is right now. As it stands, the game has not yet reached the payout level for any of the three retailers it's on, which means the company doesn't even get that money yet.

It's certainly not the end of the world, but it is more than a little disappointing. It's also going to make it difficult to go on, unless I start getting some really well-paying freelance stuff in the near future. But that's another discussion for another day.

Meanwhile, here's how the game is faring on Steam Greenlight as I write this:

Steam Greenlight Numbers for 2014

As you can see, it's not doing too bad for only being on the service for a couple weeks now. However, it's still lagging significantly behind where the current top 100 were at this point in their lives. The percentage of "no" votes is also a bit discouraging. As you can see, I get a lot of no votes, which I suppose comes with the territory of the game's art style.

There's still plenty of time for improvement, though. I've been putting money into marketing where I can afford to, and friends are helping me push it through Greenlight as much as they can. Hopefully next month I'll have better news to report!
overworldtheme: (vision riders)
Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 11:54 am
(Just realized that I didn't crosspost this from the Vision Riders blog. By the way, please to be upvoting Another Star on the Greenlights. Thank you!)

I hate Steam Greenlight. I really do. I even wrote at length about why.

A lot of people are asking me if Another Star will ever be on Steam Greenlight. Back in August, I stated that I didn't know the answer to that question.

Truth be told, I’m not sure I care that Another Star has a tiny chance of getting through. I’m not sure I care that I’m losing sales by not putting the game there. Out of principle, I simply cannot stand the very idea of submitting it. I may yet give in, but the whole thing ticks me off and I’d rather just say “screw it”.

The problem is, principles don't pay the bills. They don't put food on the table. They don't fund future projects, or even help keep hardware and software up-to-date. Valve has a virtual monopoly on the PC games market with Steam. A large number of gamers will not even consider buying a game if it's not already on the service. It's a sad, sorry state of affairs, but it's the way things are, and despite Valve's continued, empty promises that they're going to overhaul the system it doesn't look like it's going to change anytime soon.

That said, Greenlight has improved since I wrote both of those entries, even if only a little. At this point, I can say with certainty that Another Star will eventually be on Steam Greenlight. I'm still not comfortable with the service, but at least it's gotten to the point where I don't immediately gag at the thought of it. (It's more of a slow, delayed reaction now.)

The problem at the moment is cash. Steam's horrendous $100 gate is effectively shutting me out for the time being. Moreover, it's not a free ticket to success. The money I have right now is already set aside for things like bills and groceries, and my credit card is just about maxed out. I can't justify buying what amounts to a lottery ticket at this exact moment in time. Later in the month, however, I should have a bit more money to work with, and I'll try to get Another Star up on Greenlight then.

To be clear, I'm not asking for a handout. I'm just asking for patience. If you have $100 to pay for someone's Steam Greenlight fee, please find someone who needs and deserves it more than me. There are a lot of struggling developers out there who deserve a shot. I have more money on the way, but a lot of them don't.
overworldtheme: (video games)
Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 05:51 pm
One of the most common questions I get about Another Star now that it's getting noticed is whether or not I'm going to put it up on Steam Greenlight. The easy answer is: I don't know.

On one hand, it's all the more publicity for the game even if it doesn't get through.

On the other, Steam Greenlight sucks for all the reasons I've previously pointed out, and I hate it.

Actually, hate is a weak work.

I despise it.

I don't feel like coughing up $100 for "publicity" when I could put that money to better things like hosting and tools and computer parts, especially now that the bigger dogs are buying their Steam lottery tickets and grabbing that much more attention from the smaller guys.

I hate what Steam has done with the service, I hate how they treat indies while patting themselves on the back and thinking they've done a good job, I hate how opaque the service is after they played up how "transparent" it would be, and I hate how arbitrary their ideas are of who can and cannot use the service.

I also hate the fact that Valve--the supposed champion of indies--requires you to sign an NDA once you've been greenlit. The very idea of it irks me, in part because I hate the whole concept of an NDA for something as simple as a freak'n online storefront. Yes, I know they required an NDA prior to Greenlight, but it's not the transparency and openness they promised when they pitched this thing.

Truth be told, I'm not sure I care that Another Star has a tiny chance of getting through. I'm not sure I care that I'm losing sales by not putting the game there. Out of principle, I simply cannot stand the very idea of submitting it. I may yet give in, but the whole thing ticks me off and I'd rather just say "screw it".

Life would be a heck of a lot easier if I wasn't such a stupid idealist.

I may actually be making the right choice.

On that same note, can you believe it's come to the point where it's easier to get on to a Sony console than it is on to Steam? Wow. Way to go Valve.
overworldtheme: (bunnies)
Monday, September 10th, 2012 11:47 am
Twitter sucks for conveying nuances and I didn't feel like posting one of my normal long-winded posts on LiveJournal that nobody reads anyway, so for the most part I was content to let Steam's new Greenlight feature pass without further comment. But since everybody else keeps talking about it--and because I'm ticked off that family members on Facebook feel they must remind everyone that they think the president of the United States is a closet Muslim hellbent on destroying America--I feel I have to rage on something so I'll throw my two cents into the ring.

Before I go any further, I think I should begin with this: Valve is not an indie developer. Valve thinks they are an indie developer. They say they are an indie developer. But they're not. They're a mainstream, rather well-sized development studio that owns and operates the single most successful online game store. Their general argument as to why they are an indie studio usually boils down to "well, we publish our own games", but then by that definition EA is an indie developer but, say, Jonathon Blow is not. One could argue that they started out as an indie studio, but I'd even argue against that. Founded by a couple Microsoft millionaires with plans to sell through traditional channels, I'd say they very much a mainstream start-up studio.

Why is this important to the discussion? Because Valve has a tendency to think they understand indies and, while they certainly understand them better than the vast majority of mainstream publishers and studios, they don't have that same indie perspective. So when they first announced Greenlight, even though I thought it was a good idea on the surface, I was highly skeptical. And, I'll be honest, the whole $100 thing is just one issue I have with the platform, but it's what I'm going to focus the most on today. Let's get this rant started, shall we?

Big ol' wall o' text! )