19.90 USD versus 19.90 EUR

Question:

You recommend for most cases to take the “standard price” of $19,90 and I think that’s a good recommendation. But what experiences did you have with the EUR pricing? Would you put it on your website for $19,90 and 19,90 EUR, because of course it’s not equal (it would be about 15 EUR). How would customers react to “same number, different currency”?

Answer:
I think displaying only $19.90 is ok, anybody can check the final price by clicking the “checkout/buy” button. Maybe there could be room for “switch currency” button, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If you have only one product to sell, then it’s easy for customers to check the final price.

I don’t think displaying USD 19.90 and EUR 19.90 is a good idea as many people know the currency differences. Euros are stronger than US dollars. If you don’t show “including VAT” or something like that, then it feels like I need to pay more! Poor example on the use of different currencies is Play.com where they convert currencies using .99 method: they don’t show exact prices – they show prices that end in .99/.49/something, no matter what the currency difference is. Play.com is a good shop, but I always first check the currencies in EUR (to see an estimate how much my order would cost) and then switch back to GBP just before checkout: it’s cheaper for me to order using GBP rathern than EUR there!

Whatever you decide to do make sure people who see different currencies really pay the same amount.

For more information about setting price for your product, see 18 Approaches for Setting the Right Price For Your Game and Reason Why Lowering the Price is a Poor Strategy

Sales Statistics: Tropic Ball – Great Indie Game Sales Experiment

GENERAL INFORMATION:

Title: TropicBall :: Download :: Buy

Developer: TenGames
Release date: July 2006
Team size: 1 developer and 1 musician
Time of development: about 6 month part time
Platform: Windows

SALES:
Downloads: 1000 monthly
Direct Sales: 4-5 units monthly
Affiliate sales: not regular
Price: USD 19.95

SALES PER MONTH:

  • JUN: USD 10.5
  • JUL: USD 41.6
  • AUG: USD 102
  • SEP: USD 229 (2 weeks sales through Russian publisher nevosoft.ru, direct sales through TenGames.net were zero)

EXPENSES:

  • Music USD 130
  • Hosting USD 70

PROMOTION:

GameProducer.net comments
It’s great to see people sharing numbers – and it’s especially nice to get these from Ten Games who said “Tropic Ball was an experiment to test indie game sales”. Abramov was bit hesitant to start another indie game, but I think this is a fine start, and you definitely should continue making games. Either improve this game or make something totally new. You’ve proved yourself that your game can sell – that’s excellent. And perhaps you could use similar approach as GL Golf is using: lower the price for the main product, but offer a full priced combo pack and an expansion pack. Whatever you decide to do, good luck!

And anybody out there with some extra cash and need for a nice game: go to TenGames and purchase Trobic Ball. Purchasing the game supports indie scene where every penny counts.

One of The Most Important Lessons About Getting Things Done

I believe one of the most important in doing pretty much anything is to know what you are going to do. Climbing a tree won’t do much good if you have picked a wrong tree.

I’ve noticed that it’s easy to lose focus and start doing irrelevant things (like read blogs, check out forums, have a quick look at email, play some games) when you should be programming your game. I think the single most important thing to do is to have clear tasks which will tell you what you need to do next.

That’s very simple rule, but it’s darn easy to forget it.

It’s also easy to start doing some irrelevant coding or production task that won’t make it to the final product. I’ve noticed that I might start looking for some texture files when in reality artist should be the one who gets those files – it doesn’t do any good for me to google for some textures. Learning to say NO for yourself – besides others – is important skill to manage.

I use pen & paper to write down ideas and I also use simple text file for todo tasks and finished tasks. I think it’s good motivation to see visible progress (finished tasks) and have some clear, visible tasks (todo) that you can do. This way you can immediately tell what you should be doing next.

Do you know what your next development task is?

Pjio.com – Upload, Tag, Share and Play Games

Tim Fisher informed me about their new service: Pjio. Bit difficult word – but basically pjio.com is a place where people can upload, tag, share and play games. Service is in beta phase now.

pjio, pronounced “jahy-oh”, is a video game website where the community controls the content by uploading, sharing, reviewing and playing the games. Video game developers are encouraged to upload and share their latest creations and have pjio members give them creative and constructive feedback, and perhaps even purchase a copy or two. Where else can a developer try out new ideas, showcase their latest creation and get feedback within minutes of release. Virtually any game uploaded to pjio.com be delivered as a web browser embedded game, that game can then be embedded in any web page.

pjio is for everyone, people can :

1. Play the latest video games for free
2. Find people with similar gaming interests
3. Compete in challenges and score leagues
4. Upload and share games worldwide for free
5. Embed games on their own websites
6. Create sub-communities or Gaming Groups of people who play the same games
7. Earn loyalty for playing games, rating games and providing constructive feedback.

Right now pjio is in beta phase testing and is looking for content.

  • Do you want your game hosted?
  • Do you want a web version of your game? One that you can embed in your own site or friends myspace accounts.
  • Do you want your game promoted within a community of gamers?
  • Do you want gamers directed to your own website?
  • Is a community rating, ranking and commenting on your game useful to you?
  • Is reporting such as downloads, plays and click through important?
  • Do you want all of the above for free?

Pjio.com is sort of “YouTube of Games” – so check it out & start uploading your games.

Sales Statistics: GL Golf, Over $28,000 Total Sales

Title: GL Golf (Download for Mac :: Buy)
Developer: Nuclear Nova Software
Released: March 2004
Time of Development: 5 months part time as a hobby, plus continued improvement since the release, maybe 1-5 hours a week
Platforms : Mac OS X

About development:

I developed GL Golf as a hobby to enter into the uDevGames 2003 contest. It won Editors Choice and received lots of positive feedback. I decided to improve the game and release it as shareware, and I was amazed by the sales. It took about two months to get the sales up to the average rate, but for over two years I have maintained a steady income. This is mostly due to constant updates of the game, at least once a month. I’ve added several new features to every patch, and the version today looks like an entirely different game than the one released in March of 2004.

SALES
GL Golf

  • Price: US $15
  • Sold 641 units
  • Total: US $9615

GL Golf Combo

  • Price: US $25
  • Sold 645 units
  • Total: US $16125

GL Golf Expansion

  • Price: US $10
  • Sold 263 units
  • Sales: US $2630

Total sales
$28360 over two and a half years. Average monthly sales – 43 copies of GL Golf or the Combo pack with a total of $945 a month.

Downloads
Total Downloads – 85,000 + downloads from sites OTHER than Apple.com.

I don’t how many downloads Apple.com sends me, I actually need to setup a simple counter on my website to count the number of downloads the send me. I am estimating it to be a large number, possibly 25,000-50,000

Jake continues:

I mostly used these five sites – apple.com, download.com,
macupdate.com, versiontracker.com, and macgamefiles.com . They
probably send me 90% of my downloads, and are 100% esential to ANY
mac game.

EXPENSES

  • Contracted course maker’s commission – $2,640
  • Affiliate Sales – $265
  • eSellerate and Plimus Commission – $2,836

Tips to other developers.
As told by Jake Leveto:

  • The casual game market is perfect for small shareware games. My target audience is adults, most of which aren’t hardcore gamers.
  • Update often, adding new features and fixing bugs. Golf is a perfect example of a game that can be improved very easily, and it is much easier to update a game than to make a new game from scratch.
  • If possible create an add-on (expansion pack) for an extra cost, the course pack
    accounts for around 1/3rd of my revenue.
  • Listen to your users, ask for feedback. Most of the features I’ve added to GL Golf have been suggested by owners.

Future Plans

Continue improving GL Golf and my other two games. Due to college I don’t have the time to program a game from scratch, and Its much faster and easier to keep working on GL Golf. I would love to have the game ported to Windows, because all of the sales above are only from Mac users. I may have time to do this in the future but I am considering paying someone to do it for me.

GameProducer.net comments
I think GL Golf is an excellent example of a successful indie game: made part time, continously upgrading it, steady sales. Big congratulations to Jake at Nuclear Nova Software for sharing the numbers and tips. Good luck with the sales!

Insiders Population: 11

4 new Game Producer Insiders have joined within the past weeks making the total amount 10 excluding me. When you count me in, there’s total of 11 Insider members. New Insiders are:

  • Vex – game development company focused on development of entertainment products.
  • Oaf -mobile phone games developer and publisher. Maker of Blobbit Dash
  • Aymes – game developer, maker of free ClickBeat game
  • Arex – programmer working on his self-made graphics engine and doing software programming for Nvidia.

You can see each Insider’s websites in the side menu of GameProducer.net.

It’s great to see more developers joining the discussions and sharing their thoughts. Getting new contacts and discussing game development with as little noise as possible are some of the key ideas behind Insider membership.

Note: I have made a new payment option available. The original one-time US $50 fee is still there, but for those of you who’d like to make the payment in smaller portions I have set up an option to pay the membership in 12 months for $5 per month (total membership fee is $60 for this type of payments).

For those of you who got curious, check out here for more details.

It Cannot Be Done

“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.”
- Chinese proverb.

This is one of my favourite quotes which sums up a lot about indie game development. Sure, when you do games you will face people saying you how “you cannot succeed” or how “all your games are (poo)”, and my way of reacting is this:

  • I focus on results, let the results speak rather than words. If my results are bad and guy is telling my results are bad then… he’s right – so why should I care? If my results are good and some guy is telling bad things about me or my results then he’s wrong – and any intelligent person can easily test my game rather than believe gossips, so why should I care? If somebody tells bad things about me, that’s their problem – I want no part of it.
  • Basically I don’t defend myself. I let my results talk: they might be dismal or they might be great – that’s not the point. I rather let the results do the talking, so I can focus on making my game great rather than convincing people that my game is good.
  • I don’t attack. I think there’s more than enough insults in the net and in the world and I believe that saying bad things about someone else is not doing anything good about me. Surely I can point out stuff, discuss and comment someone’s talk, but I still think insulting others is not a good strategy. I previously wrote a brief article on how to deal with angry people, check it out in case you missed it or like to re-read it.

I would also like to remind that many of us have a habit about giving feedback:

  • When things are bad, we say it out loud
  • When things are good, we say nothing.

That’s why sometimes it might feel like people are being harsh at you, but when you think about yourself: isn’t it easy to tell “what’s wrong” about others or their behavior (games, team member work, children, dogs…) rather than “reward the right” things. It’s easy to say “NO!” to your dogs 100 times every day and forget saying “Good doggie!” when they sit nicely or act well… When people say bad things that reflects their own thinking and life, and you should remember that doing something is much better than doing nothing.

The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it. Focus on doing it. Ignore the persons who say that it can’t be done.

Don’t Wait For the Mouse

In the series of “dumb programming I’ve done”. Yesterday I tested Edoiki multiplayer mode and there were strange problems: the units “teleported” from one place to another and it was really laggy experience. I thought it must be some packet loss thing, but change my mind when the same problem occured locally!

I pondered for a while… and realised that I had forgotten a command that “freezes the program until you click mouse” from previous debugging. No wonder packets move nowhere if the game server was frozen waiting host to click the mouse…

…sigh.

Game Production and the Art of Making Sit-ups

I just finished my morning exercise and I thought that making sit-ups can teach something about game development. If somebody wants to get fit and is making sit-ups, it’s natural to know that making 20 sit-ups is not going to do much – if you stop there. In fact, you can get fit by doing just one sit-up.

And then you need to repeat that pattern. Over and over. Rest, do more sit-ups, rest, do sit-ups until you are fit. Think about it. If you would spend excercising 5 minutes for 5 days a week for the next 5 years. Would that make a difference? Of course it would. Problem in the beginning is of course that doing 20 or 30 sit-ups feels awful. But you don’t have to start doing 100 sit-ups. You can start doing 3×3 sit-ups or 3 times one sit-up. Or one sit-up. Or if one sit-up is too much, then do half sit-up. The point is not to give up in the beginning, but to do what’s possible for you. After you have done 1 sit-up (or half sit-up) every day for one month, you begin to notice that you can double the amount. Next month you can double the amount again. 1 turns to 2… then 4. 4 becomes 8, 8 becomes 16… then 32 and soon you’ll notice you are doing 3 x 50 sit-ups or 3×100 sit-ups. And when you do 150 sit-ups per day, 5 days a week means 750 sit-ups. That’s about 39 000 sit-ups in one year and almost 200 000 sit-ups in 5 years. What would happen to your stomach muscles in this process? Good things, of course.

And it all starts by doing just one sit-up. That’s all you need to do. Just one sit-up, and then repeat. Reach your limits… and then go beyond them.

I don’t recommend thinking about how many sit-ups you can do in one day, I recommend doing the sit-ups. I found great motivation from thinking “what will happen if I keep doing this for 5 years”. Think what difference it makes to train your body for the 5 next years compared to doing nothing. This lesson goes with other parts of game development and business. When you participate in something, take time to think about the 5-year rule. If you program your games 1 hour every day, you have 1750 hours to spend in 5 years. If you cut your email reading time for 5 minutes per day, you just earned 150 hours in 5 years. If you read one book every month, that’s 60 new books in 5 years. If you make one new game feature every week, you’ll have 52 new features in one year.

P.S. If you decide to do sit-ups, then you should also do something to strengthen your back. Check out some professional training articles or books on how to do the moves properly. Rule of thumb is that it’s much better to do one movement properly than 10 moves badly. Also have small breaks after each series of sit-ups. Like, do 10 sit-ups, then 1 minute break, 10 more sit-ups, 1 minute break, 10 final sit-ups. I’m no professional trainer, consult someone who is. Final tip: Read also the comments from Aikido instructor.