- Developer: Anawiki Games (About)
- Team size: 3 coders, 2 gfx, freelance musician and contractors
- Games: Tom’s Hen House (THH), Maggie the Gardener 2 (MG) and Affiliate titles
- Tom’s Hen House development time: 8-9 months (One coder for the first 5 months, two coders for the rest of time, one gfx)
- Maggie the Gardener development time: 3-4 months (One coder, one gfx)
“Our indie adventure started when we decided to create Simon the Farmer – Bob the Builder kind of game for kids. After 3 months we realized that this project is too big for us and decided to reuse created assets in smaller games. We wanted to create a game that will take 2-3 months to develop, but it took 8-9 months for Tom’s Hen House to get it finished.”
These sales are for direct sales only – does not cover any portal or retail deals.
- THH: USD 19.95
- MG: USD 12.95 (first two months it was $9.99)
Downloads: (on-site, does not include Download.com or others)
- THH: approximately 13.500
- MG: approximately 14.500
Sales stats – direct sales only: 153 units
THH: Total PC: 24, Mac: 29
- April 06: 4 units (first two fraudulent)
- May 06: 1 units
- June 06: 20 units
- July 06: 13 units
- August 06: 5 units
- September 06: 10 units
MG: Total PC: 16, Mac: 52
- May 06: 5 units (title launched)
- June 06: 21 units
- July 06: 16 units
- August 06: 11 units
- September 06: 17 units (1st to 24th)
Affiliate games: Total 30
Gross revenue: roughly USD 1960
Net revenue: roughly USD 1200 (net = after cc processing, coupons and split pay)
Avg daily net revenue: USD 7,08
Avg daily sales: USD 0.90
Avg daily sales: 1,61 units (last 4 weeks)
Best week: 18 sales (June 18-25)
Best day: 6 sales (Sept 19th)
Goals: min. 3 sales a day / USD 60 daily revenue
- THH: roughly USD 1500
- Maggie: roughly USD 200 on gfx (does not include cost of own time and rev split)
MARKETING & PROMOTION METHODS
- IGB press release for THH – April. (Results: Nothing exceptional, but worth it. Tip: you need to introduce yourself to the world somehow.)
- IGB press release for Maggie – August, Indiepath
- Download sites submision service
- GamesBanner.net: 100k impressions in April (I keep banner on selected pages so I get some traffic from them still – you get 8 impressions to you for 10 imprerssion from you).
- GameXtazy: 30k impressions May/June (Results: can’t tell, but I want to use them again)
- Forum announcements (Mainly game development forums)
- Some guerilla marketing (Added Maggie Garden game info for some garden related sites)
Marketing cost total: less than USD 200
“Started really bad. Conversion rate (CR) was very discouraging, sales we’re poor. Now traffic quality incresed and CR is much better, but still lower that 1%, most probably ~0.5%. Some say that selling other games is bad, I say that you need content and you are not able to create enough games even with 5 people team. After a year I believe that breaking up Simon the Farmer into two smaller titles was a failure – we did not shortened dev time that much and ended with 2 games of which one is not that well targeted (actually THH is not really kid game and it’s not really casual game). If you are small then make sure you can easyli create Mac version – without that you better have really strong game (we develop in BlitzMax).
How did we manage to go from 1 sale in April to 20 in June? I didn’t have a Mac then so I needed someone to do the port. I set up a deal with Tim Fisher. He got some revenue share, I got the Mac version. Also, while he was in the process of selling cloverleaf we agreed that he will send out newsletter about Maggie the Gardener (sent to ~2000). That got us sales for MG and THH (not only for Mac). That’s win-win solution – we both got richer. Of course not every sale was made due to newsletter promotion, but it had huge impact on sale numbers.
We announced THH in April on dev forums mainly and while it brought lot’s of downloads it didn’t get as sales. Improving the website helped also. Now ANAWIKI has page rank 5 in google and we have more visitors from search engines. Most important factor is probably release of Mac versions – in Mac world it is much easier to get attention and Maggie was a featured game on Apple.com for very long time (even now it is not burried on back pages). We did not have that much luck with THH on Apple.com.”
GameProducer.net: Thanks Roman for sharing this numbers. People, now it’s your turn to support indie gaming and purchase some fine games from Anawiki. And remember that you can subscribe to Gameproducer.net newsletter and get informed when new sales statistics are coming.
There is a very interesting discussion going on at indiegamer.com. One developer asked if it’s “Possible to reach annual income of $100.000 with indie development?”
Look what Cliff Harris brought to us. (Notice: these are not just one year sales)
The total income shows $113,160.53 – and that’s just Plimus sales, doesn’t include any other deals. “Took more than a year, sadly.”, Cliff added.
You can read his interview, where he gives some insight on game production.
Thanks for Cliff, for letting me use the image – and thanks for being inspiration for all of us. Now we have to wait for him to get us sales information for Kudos game.
Here’s some bits and pieces of news:
- Psychochild accepted to get interviewed, I’ll be throwing him with bunch of questions regarding game development. Guy like him sure has lots of things to share.
- Anawiki shares some sales stats info: will be online tomorrow.
- TenGames sent me sales stats, they’ll be published in the nearly future
- GameProducer.net is getting traffic from Rampantgames (Great blog btw, definitely worth checking) as he mentioned Pharaohsâ€™ Curse sales stats. (Better check that post as well: it shows how these guys pulled a $2000 yearly sales for their game)
- I definitely want to remind people to sign-up for gameproducer.net newsletter (check out site header) and I’ll inform you about the juicy stuff (like sales stats) when they are available.
That’s it for today.
Yesterday I had a short conversation with one guy who threw a comment that got me thinking about game development. He said (when I asked ‘How’s things?’):
not too bad, just tried going for a morning run for the first time ever…now im knackered! heh about 2 miles. its pretty pathetic hahah
I immediately said: “Hey, that’s much better than most people ever do!”
It’s same with video games development: When somebody makes and finishes a game, you can rest assured that there’s always some people who are saying “But Neverwinter Night is much better and it costs only $20 more, you all should buy that game.” It’s like… it really makes people shy about their achievements. I mean – finishing a game is a big thing. Even if it’s a Pong clone, it’s still finished. I mean – Neverwinter Night is a great game, won’t argue with that – but any indie game that sees a daylight is definitely worth mentioning.
There’s lots of people out there who can point how “somebody did a better game” and “how your game sucks” and basically will mock you.
Let’s take a wider view on this issue: There must be like millions of game developers in the world and if you’ve done any game progress, you have the right to be proud of it. 2 miles run is NOT pretty pathetic. It’s a fine start.
There’s no other way to make the journey of thousand miles than taking one step after another. Sure, sometimes you might get lost and travel in a completely wrong direction, but that’s why they invented compass: so that you could learn from failures, head for the right direction and take steps forward.
It’s easy for developers to get blind for all the options that are available to bring traffic to your site and to your game. I think it’s easy to stick in game development forums and really get sort of “too deep” in the “development thinking” and forget “player thinking”.
Developers of Shorthike space simulation game once said that they receive decent amount of traffic from forums. But those aren’t just game development forums where you might get traffic. It’s much better to hang around with those guys who play and buy the games. If you stick only with developers, then you might get too focused on getting those people to buy your game – but that’s not the best strategy. Whatever product you are selling, your primary target should not be the developers or manufacturers of that product. If you sell for example cat food – the best place to start selling cat food is not likely to other cat food manufacturers. Those guys are not interested in buying your cat food – they have their own cat food to sell! (Of course you can get hints *where* to sell your product in these forums, but you really should focus on other sites as well)
A better place to sell cat food are cat forums – where cat people meet and discuss about their cats.
One hint for anyone going into any new forum: Don’t just sign up, tell about your product and leave. That’s SPAMMING, and nobody likes SPAM (unless it can get you a free game). Instead, register to the forums and participate in discussion. Include signature link to your profile and comment to relevant threads. Feel free to ask for assistance, but be really careful about spamming the forums. Read the FAQs and forum rules first. Basically if you announce your product and leave, your post gets deleted and in worst case you and your IP might get banned.
A quick google search gave lots of results for “video game forums” keywords:
- Video Gaming Forums
- GameSpot Forums
- VideoGameReview Forums
- Gamers.com Forums
There’s also a big list of video gaming forums at Big-Boards.com, check it out and spot some forums to visit.
Here’s a small test for you. Below you can see two black balls. What I want you to do is the following: Cover your left eye with your hand, and look at the left ball using your right eye. Try moving closer to monitor and check what happens to the right side ball – while keeping your focus on the left ball.
The right ball vanishes. This is no magic trick, it’s a simple optical test to check where your eye’s blind spot is. But nevertheless – it’s interesting. When you focus your right eye on the left ball (and cover your left eye), the right ball vanishes. You could swear that it’s not there.
Isn’t this same issue with game production or in many discussions? It’s easy to focus so much on what we see… that we actually get blind for other people’s opinions. It’s easy to come in one perspective and tell that “this is the truth, as here are that facts – and I’ve got experience to prove that”. Like perhaps some people has got bad experiences with negotiation with companies and used the rule of “other party must ALWAYS make the first offer”. That might lead into a situation where they get blind on any other options. Perhaps in some cases the deal is completely lost because the guy got so focused on not making the first offer – instead of seeking the win-win solution. It’s easy to cover our eyes – so to speak – and focus on “facts”, “truths” and “the right ways” when in reality we should ask ourselves: “Do we need to be right? Or do we need to make a deal that benefits us both?”
Open your both eyes. Listen openly to what people have to say. You don’t need – and shouldn’t – accept everything, but at least you don’t block away potential opportunities just because your focus was somewhere else.
Beginner developers wonder the first step to game development: What language to pick? Should they learn C++? Should they build their own engine? Where can you find good books? The list continues.
I personally think that I wouldn’t plan so much about the first step. Naturally I would look for choices, but I think with game development it’s better to jump in the lake, and test whether you hit into a rock or not (No I don’t recommend jumping into lakes or selling your house or taking debts to jump into game business – I’m talking about the very first steps after you’ve got your “grand game idea” and think what to do now).
With that being said – I really don’t think it’s necessary to spend much or any money when starting your game development. In fact, much of what you need is either free or inexpensive.
I started my game development using Commodore 64 and writing lines of code (those were the days) and the first programming tool that had graphics was Multimedia Fusion (we had the first version, not the 2nd edition). It was bit pricey, but it worked fine on those days.
Some people recommend becoming top notch programmers and building their own engine. I personally don’t think that’s a good choice for game developer: if you spend your time on building the engine then you are more like an “engine developer” rather than a “game developer”. I really think that any indie game producer needs to learn programming – I would see it as a requirement. We all have great ideas, but ideas are worth nothing if they aren’t produced any further.
Instead of trying to make your own engine, pick some ready made. There’s a great advanced search available at Devmaster.net where you can choose price range and features you need.
Here’s some of my picks:
- Ogre3D: Proven, stable graphics engine with loads of tools, add-ons available. (See also Irrlicht)
- Panda3D: C++ engine – design emphasis is on supporting a short learning curve and rapid development.
- Torque Game Engine: Good for network gaming – You can mod the engine free before buying
- Blitz3D / BlitzMax: I’ve been using Blitz3D in my products and it’s worked fine so far.
- TrueVision: Fast & simple 3D game development.
There’s plenty of more choices, so make some research and then pick one. I don’t recommend taking a very complex tools in the beginning. It’s much better to start with something simple – and if the tools start to feel too easy, you can always move to more advanced stuff in the future.
For example: I know nothing about DirectX programming and have never programmed stencil shadows or dealt with antialiasing functions. Some really top notch programmers I’ve talked have sometimes mentioned me how “They just managed to get Anisotropic filtering work by tweaking the module” and I’m like “Huh?”. Then I’ve googled for a second and found out what it means. I really don’t need to know how Anisotropic filtering is programmed in an engine – I know there’s people much smarter than me who do know – and do that work. Many times these guys do all completely free, and sometimes it might cost very little. Why should I spend weeks programming Anisotropic filtering to an engine, if I can buy that feature (and many other features) with little costs and focus on game development? And if some features are too expensive – I can simply find out another way to deal with them.
I think programming an engine from a scratch is a great if that’s what you want to do. I’m simply saying that I’d rather spend some bux on tested engine and focus on producing the game, rather than the engine.
- Check out modding tools – there’s plenty of games that can be modded
- Check out Devmaster.net – there’s plenty of engines that can help you to build your dream game.
- Check out Experimental Gameplay – these guys make games in 7 day periods, and they are doing a great job.
If you are just starting game development, pick some engine and build from small. Take the first steps. Get a box rendered on a screen – move that box using arrow keys. Program it little by little – but it’s really important to start as soon as possible. Don’t spend too much time on planning or thinking of what you should do – jump in the development. If things don’t work out – try something else.
Our IGB Press Release service informed me a foundation of new company to Develop “Massively Scalable Online Games”.
I checked Spark Forge’s website and the first thing that caught my eye in this news was “leisure gamer”. Developers / marketers talk about either “casual” or “hardcore” gamers – but these guys mention leisure gamers.
According to Parks Associates analyst Michael Cai, the online game market is expected to grow to $4.4B by 2010. Much of that market includes a type of player referred to as a “leisure gamer,” a segment largely ignored by the current trend toward designing games for the extremes of “hardcore” or “casual” gamers. Massively Scalable Online Games (MSOGs) are intended to focus on the interests of the leisure gamerâ€”people who enjoy challenging games that offer persistence and community without the time-sinks and financial commitment of the typical massively-multiplayer game.
One could argue if “leisure gamers” are part of “casual gamers” rather than completely new segment, but nevertheless, it’s interesting to see new businesses being founded dedicated to certain segments.
“Massively Scalable Online Games (MSOGs) bridge the gap between the single-player market, which tends to be dominated by expensive hit-driven development, and the massively-multiplayer world, where thousands of players interact in universes under the exclusive control of publishers,â€ explained SparkForge founder and CEO Jon Radoff. â€œWe’re going to make fun, challenging, massively-multiplayer games that players can make their own. The big difference is the â€œscalableâ€ wordâ€”players will have the choice of using company-sponsored servers, or guilds will be able to setup and run their own customized gaming sites.â€
Weâ€™re creating products for a new category that we call massively scalable online games. These are games that give you choices: you can play solitaire if you like, or go online to play with thousands of others. You can play on company-sponsored servers, or on gaming sites you setup and run yourself.
The concept sounds interesting, but I have no idea how these guys are going to do this – I mean… from single to multiplayer gaming is not totally new (as we seen even in indie games such as Minions of Mirth), but it will be nice to hear how they are do the scaling.
SparkForge is currently developing a MSOG that will be built upon the “SparkForge Platform,” an environment that allows online games to expose access to game content through websites. In addition to its proprietary game development, the SparkForge Platform will be made available to select licensees in the online game industry.
For indies it would be nice to know in what price range the technology will be – it’s hard to tell if their technology is meant for big corporations or indie developers.
More on their website: sparkforge.com