Zen And the Art of Asking How Much Games Can Sell

How much games can sell? How much money can indie games make?

These are the questions every starting indie asks. And it’s good to get some idea about how well games can sell. I’ve collected information about sales stats of several indie games. I must point out that these games can be considered successful sellers. You have to think about the massive amount of work, hours after hours of work that’s involved, advertising costs, rents, software, computers, programs – everything that’s required to take care to be able to finish the game. For every 100 or 1000 indie game that’s been published, you might see one or two these kind of success stories.

Back to the original question: How much games can sell?
I think this short zen story points out quite well how much games can sell (again I don’t know the origin of story, so please feel free to point me the author and I would be more than happy to give the credits to those who deserve it)

A traveller once stopped by an old man sitting by the side of the road and asked him, “How far to the next town?”

But the old man did not say anything and continued to stare at him blankly. The traveller asked again and again but the old man seemed not to understand and remained silent without a word.

Finally, the travelled gave up in digust and began to continue onwards.

“About a half a day!” the old man suddenly cried out.

The angry traveller returned to where the old man was sitting and complained, ” I asked you politely over and over but you refused to say anything, and now suddenly you shout this out. What is the matter with you?”

“Well,” the old man replied, “how could I know how long it would take you until I could see the length of your step?”

Similarly… it’s almost impossible to answer to question “How much games can sell” if you cannot tell what actions are you prepared to take to make your game sell. Are you prepared to work and polish your game over and over? Are you prepared to handle all the criticism? Are you willing to spend time on marketing your game? Are you going to have a distribution partner? Are you going to start acting like a professional game producer? Are you focusing on making your players and team members happy, rather than seeking profits only for yourself? Are you going to improve your product rather than hoping for the best?

The answers you gave to these questions and many many similar ones among your skills, willingness and dedication to produce games and make business – the length of your step so to speak – is going to measure how well your game will eventually sell.

More resources
Besides the sales stats there’s some other resources where you can see how well games sell. One good article can be found at A Shareware Life (author is doing very good job with his Pretty Good game series). Jeff Tunnell has written a another sales post which can be useful as well.

GameProducer.net – Looking Better Than Ever

It’s only two weeks since I updated the visuals for GameProducer.net, and now I made another change. I moved some links to the left menubar, so they won’t make reader harder (like in the previous version). I’ve also added the blogroll to better place (more visible now). Introduction and profit sections have been updated – among other things.

Thanks for everybody about the comments of the previous version, and recommendations for this version, hope you like the new site visuals.

Easy 3-Step Time Management Technique

The following technique is extremely easy and simple to use, but many people never do it. They might be too busy to stop and find out what really takes their time.

Step 1 – track your actions
Make a list of everything you do at work – from chatting with co-workers to calling mom. Dot down every action: reading emails, attending meetings, actual work, lunch breaks etc. Use pen and paper, cell phone, or computer software to do this for one week’s period. It’s important to be accurate, not to guess how long you were at coffee break or reading design document. Write down actual times.

Step 2 – check your records
In case you’ve never done this system before, I’m quite sure you’ll find interesting results. You might be quite surprised to see how long your phone calls, blog reading, emails actually take your time. Spot the unimportant actions or tasks that take more time they should.

Step 3 – choose your actions
Tracking is the first step, and checking is the second step to realize what’s going on. Making proper adjustments is the most important step. If you’ve read this far, thought “this 3-step technique sounds quite interesting” but don’t take action, then you’ve just found another way to spend your time on something useless.

Stop fooling yourself.

Take action. If you track your time (even one day can be good, if you don’t want to do this for a whhole week) and make proper adjustments – like delegate some of your work or cut down unnecessary phone calls – you’ve just helped yourself to be more productive.

Use Internet Cafees to Expand Your Business

Week or two ago I was putting some print ads throughout the city. As I was experimenting this offline promotion campaign I noticed an internet cafe and stopped by.

I suggested them to rent some indie games through my company. The salesman couldn’t make the deal, but I got the manager’s contact infor and took a note on their fees (3-4 euros per hour) so that I could use the numbers to calculate a good deal for all (me, the game developers and the cafe). I’m preparing a formal offer and will inform you how it goes.

Again, here’s a lesson for you to use: perhaps there are Internet cafees near your home. Maybe you could offer them your game for a rental fee or as one time payment. I’ve said many, many times in the past: you cannot lose by trying. If you make a deal, then great – you’ve just expanded your business. On the other hand if you don’t make a sale, then great too: you’ve found a way that doesn’t work and can try a different approach, other companies or simply something else.

Now go on, think what you could offer for those cafees. Search for their contact info, contact the manager and tell them how they could benefit.

P.S. In case you missed, there’s other ways to expand your business available too.

Need Sales? Traffic? Something else?

I’d like to remind you GameProducer.NET readers that you can use the search function to get access to past information. For example, if you would need to find about sales or promotion, you could simply type “sales” or “how to get sales” or “traffic” to the search box, and find related information for your situation.

Check it out, you’ll find plenty of information that was written in the past that might help you.

How to Make a Business Offer

When you’re trying to get funding for your project, are hiring team members, want somebody to link to your website, or whatever it is you are trying to get, it’s important to think in terms of the other person. Don’t focus on what you want, focus on what they could get.

For example, if you are looking for some funding for your project and summarize your request “we need this much money in order to finish the game” it’s no wonder if you are getting nowhere. Instead you could show the potential money or reputation that the investors could get if they choose to fund your project.

If you want a new team member, you could show them how interesting project you have, show them a demo, and show them how fun it could be to work with your team.

If you want somebody to link to your website, don’t just ask people to link to you. Tell them that you would link back to them or that you would mention them in your blog, or whatever it is you could give to the other party.

Whatever it is you are after, don’t focus on what you want to get. Instead, focus on what you could give to others. After you’ve done that, the ‘get’ part comes naturally.

Use Pizza to Fund Your Game Development

Sponsors. They are surrounded by us, but not in indie games. I recently saw indiegamer discussion about a nice looking pizza game. I recommended them to check out if there would be some local pizza companies that could sponsor them. Perhaps there could be company logo displayed in the intro of the game, and perhaps the pizzas could be named after company or something.

The lesson here is this: sponsoring is something you can use to benefit. Think about companies at your city or in your country. Perhaps there could be some company that would be interested in getting their name mentioned. Maybe some candy company could be interested in your game using their visual elements?

There’s plenty of options – and as you know: you can’t fail by trying, you can only find ways that won’t work.

Basics of Webhosting

One of the first steps in self-publishing in the internet is to learn some basics of webhosting. In this article I’ll go through some basic terms that will help you if you are just considering to get yourself a domain name and webhosting.

Domain names
Domain name is simply the internet address of your site. For example this post is originally published at GameProducer.NET which is the domain name of my site. Domain names cost around $10 per year. GoDaddy is one popular domain name registrar. I personally have been using Namecheap which – even with a bad sounding name – has worked fine years for me.

Space (or storage)
space is the number of megabytes or gigabytes you can store files on your webhost. For example, if you have a game that takes 7 megabytes of space from your harddrive, and your webhosting provider has granted you 50 megabytes, then you could upload your game to the server and still have 43 megabytes space left for emails, website and other files.

Bandwidth is the amount of traffic your site can receive – in other words: how many downloads your game can get. For example, if your 7 megabyte game is downloaded by 1000 people, you would need to have 7000 megabytes (about 7 gigabytes) of bandwidth quota to handle all the traffic. Bandwidth is usually checked monthly, which means that with 10 gigabytes of bandwidth you can get this amount of traffic each month.

Shared hosting
Shared hosting means that you share the server with other people. This is the typical way to set up a webhosting. There are plenty of companies that offer hosting, and here are some guidelines on how to pick a webhost for you. When we were starting we used Hostgator and it worked fine for our needs in the beginning.

Reseller hosting
Reseller hosting is suitable for people who have several domains or want to start selling web hosting for others. Reseller is quite similar to shared hosting. The major difference is that resellers are able to create new accounts with different package options. For more information about reseller hosting, I recommend checking out the reseller forum at webhostingtalk.com.

Virtual Private Servers (or VPS)
A virtual private server is a step higher from reseller hosting. VPS means that you get your own part of a server so that theoretically if some other account (in the same server) is causing problems, your site function okay. I’ve had bad experiences with VPS which makes me bit poor example to tell you that I won’t recommend them, I’m sure there are good VPS solutions, but our $50 monthly VPS certainly wasn’t working for us. I would rather recommend to find a few people together and purchase a dedicated server and split it among you.

Dedicated servers
Dedicated servers are just that: servers dedicated to you. You get your fully own server without fear that other people would slow your site down. Dedicated servers cost more, but they provide faster and better webhosting. At the moment I have split the server with my business partner. We are using LiquidWeb and so far it’s been working fine for us.

First One to Join the Game Producer Insiders

Insider Members Count: 2

I’m proud to announce the increase in population of GameProducer.NET Insiders: me and Mr. Phil.

For those of you who don’t know what the Insider membership is all about, here’s a brief reminder: GameProducer.NET Insider is dedicated for those indies who are serious about making games, and generating income online. What the forums and membership provides a noise-free place for indies game developers to come, share their ideas, get positive feedback, get inspired, inspire others, and make things happen together.

Insider membership gets you the following benefits:

Noise-free environment for discussion with other serious game developers
One-time membership fee is $50, which is high enough to get spammers away, but low enough for serious developers to pay. The policy is to rather have few members who are serious about succeeding at game business than lots of members talking nonsense.

Permanent listing on GameProducer.NET website
Your website will be given a permanent link listed under ‘members’.

Appear on GameProducer.net ‘Insider Members’ category
A post (or posts) about you and your business will be published here at GameProducer.NET. There are visitor statistics available at our sponsor page.

Get specialized help on your game production issues
How you could generate more sales, how you could get more traffic, how you could promote your game. That’s what the forums are all about: to help in game production.

Other benefits (coming in the near future)
Two other major benefits are available only for Insider members:
- Banner advertisement at GameProducer.NET (exact details will be informed in the future)
- Possibility to send news that will appear on gameproducer.net
Both of these items are to generate value for readers (by displaying relevant game production information), but also to give you publicity and drive traffic to your site.

Serious game production discussions
Besides the benefits mentions before, there’s ongoing discussion about the following areas:
- Sales guide: fundamentals, tips, tricks and ways to generate sales.
- Special stories: detailed information on how members are doing their business, what ways they are using to promote their game and website to generate more traffic, how they are generating income – tips, tricks and methods that game producers can implement and use.
- Best practises: experiments with different areas of production, and finding out the best practices from pre-production to post-production

Hear what our first member has to say
Mr.Phil has already benefited from being membership by getting another point-of-view about his situation, and how he could use his story as a promotional tool. I would warmly recommend you to take a look at Mr. Phil’s blog post and judge yourself how our first member sees the Insider membership.

Joining process
If you got interested, check out the details about how to join and start benefiting from the service.

Blogs Roundup #2

As mentioned in the first blogs roundup, you can get your site appear on GameProducer.NET if you just follow the instructions. If you want to see example about a blog that’s doing exactly what this thing is all about check this blog.

Briefly put
I have started presenting interesting blogs that link to GameProducer.NET. I will check the Technorati ‘who is linking here’ list now and then, I shall pick the latest blogs, and mention them here – in case they prove to be good.

Now – the second roundup of blogs that link to GameProducer.NET

Check them all.