Sales Stats: Gish – $121,000 Sales

Now we have some great information regarding the Gish sales. I asked Josiah Pisciotta from Chronic Logic if he would wish to publish sales stats here, and I’ve also asked some additional questions regarding conversion rate, promotional efforts, retail deals and others. Check out the expanded version of sales stats for Gish.

Title: Gish (BuyDownload)
Developer: Chronic Logic
Released: May 2004
Development time: About 6 months with three developers.
Promotion time: (after release) Josiah: “It took quite a bit of effort for all the promotion, but I am not sure how much because it was an ongoing process that continues to this day. I would say at least 6 months worth of one person working full time.”

Platforms: Windows, OSX and Linux

Development Expenses:
Sounds and music: $3500
Of the $3500 only $500 was paid up front and the rest was a percent of royalties after Gish was released and selling.

Marketing Expenses:
Independent Games Festival (IGF) entry fees: $200.00
Rough estimate of Affiliate and other fees: $2000.00

Total Expenses: $5700.00

The time of the developers and the cost of office space, computers, etc. is not taken into account here.

Downloads & conversion rate: less than 1% (rough guess)
Josiah’s comments:

I don’t have the stats on the demo downloads because they demo gets hosted in a lot of different places online and they are impossible to track, that also makes it impossible to track the conversion rate, but I suspect it is not very good, less then 1% but that is just a guess.

Sales from chroniclogic.com per year:
2004: 2587
2005: 1335
2006: 449
2007: 140 (through April)
Misc others sales: 10

Total Sales: 4521

Price: $19.95 USD

SWREG (Credit card orders): $79543.98
PayPal: $1436.86
Manual orders (checks, cash, money orders): $195.48

Approximate net sales from chroniclogic.com: $81176.32

Total income from other sites: $6212.04
(Garage Games, Reflexive Arcade, Linspire, Totalgaming.net and Manifesto games)

IGF Prize winnings: $16000.00

Total Retail publishing: $17539.71
(Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Russian, Singapore and Malaysia)

Retail deal comments:

As for the retail publishing, they contacted us except for the Germany, Switzerland and Austrian company. We had already worked with them (Halycon Media) with our Bridge Building game and we were happy with their work publishing it so we went to them with Gish as well.

Approximate total income: $121,000 USD

Marketing and Promotion:
Josiah Pisciotta:

For promotion and marketing we did press releases on our web site and tried to get them to as many news sites as possible. We did a pad file and submitted to as many shareware sites as we could find although I don’t think they had a large effect over all. We also did advertising in a local print magazine which I don’t think had much of an effect either. Keeping other products and news coming out helped keep people coming to chroniclogic.com and finding Gish. We also did a number of patches which made improvements to the game. Each patch was accompanied by a press release. Winning the Grand Prize and Innovation in Game Design at the 2005 IGF gave us a huge boost in traffic to our website but we could not take full advantage of it as the demo downloads slowed our web server to a crawl. In a single day after winning at IGF our web server served 110 GB of the Gish demo which was much more then it could handle. It was after this that I moved all our demo hosting to other servers so if we hit a traffic spike the demo downloads might be slow, but at least the website will still work correctly. It also seemed a lot of people already knew about Gish before it’s triumph at the 2005 IGF.

Gish won Game Tunnels Game of the Year and Adventure Game of the Year awards in 2004 which added a nice boost in sales. We also sent out review copies to whatever web pages and print magazines we could find. Gish scored very well in almost all reviews and even got mentioned in the New York Times. We also did a number of interviews and Q&As with magazines, websites and local news papers.

I think the single biggest factor in Gish sales was word of mouth. It is such a unique and fun game that people want to talk about it and they want to tell people about it. Individuals telling friends, posting on forums, talking about Gish to other games all made a huge contribution getting Gish out to the public.

As you can see Gish did not sell well in retail or on other sites and the majority of income generated from Gish (%67) was from direct sales through chroniclogic.com. Gish also missed out on a number of opportunities that could generate a lot more income such as North American retail and console distribution because of a lack of a shared vision among the developers.

Here are some of the reviews Gish received:

Game Tunnel GOTY awards 2004 (and here)

Game Tunnel 100%

Game Chronicles Magazine 95%

gotoandplay.it 93%

GameZone.com 88%

Gaming Nexus 87%

Home of the Underdogs Top Dog

PC Gamer UK Magazine 85%


Gish is the 2nd best overall selling game for Chronic Logic. Bridge Construction Set remains the best selling game overall and is currently selling better then any other other games despite being almost five years old.

Big thanks to Josiah for giving this detailed information about the Gish sales. Good luck with your new game Kingdom Elemental!

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Wow, I would have though a IGF/GT winner would have brought in 500k-2M over this time period given the quality, originality, and most importantly the popularity of the game. Thats the thing with a unique game though, it can be very popular and fun, but not sell very well.

  2. Very cool write up…great job, but me myself I never buy video games online.

  3. @Tim: I don’t know what gamedev does, I know that I saw this at GameTunnel, but got some additional comments from Chronic Logic (regarding conversion rate etc.) – so I haven’t seen all this info in other places.

  4. I saw this on GameDev, did they publish to both sites or is one of you syndicating? (just cause I would like to know) ;P

  5. Interesting, thanks.
    I noticed the sales went down year after year.
    The normal sales curve for an indie game?

  6. Thanks for sharing this.

    Curious if there are any explanation why PayPal has such a low percentage of the total sales.

  7. Wow, I know quite a few people that bought Gish, I would have thought it would have made a lot more than that. Not that $100k isn’t great, but I’m thinking it’s about 40k a year, divided by 3 people.

    Did you guys ever consider trying to distribute via Steam?

    I also think this’d probably go down really well on XBox Live considering the money people pay for shitty 8 bit games on there.

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