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.

Juuso Hietalahti

One Comment

  1. Lol great story ;)
    I’ve expected another ending ;) that the old man say him at the end something like: “It’s very far if you stand here and wasting your time” ;) or “I’ve been waiting with my answer to the moment it will be too late, because only then I could tell you this for sure” ;)
    But the real ending has more than I’ve expected ;D

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