Sales Statistics: Domain of Heroes

Aaron Murray from Tandem Games approached me and wanted to share the sales statistics of their game Domain of Heroes. The game is a free browser-based massively-multiplayer web RPG/PBBG with different factions, classes, skills and much more.

Here are the stats:

Game Title: Domain of Heroes
Developer: Tandem Games
Release date: October 26, 2008
Development time: 8 months from conception to release. About 10-15 updates per month ongoing since launch.

Platforms: Web. No plugins required. Javascript only.
Firefox, IE, Safari, Opera, Flock. iPhone, Wii, and PS3 browsers work as well.

Development Expenses:
First 6 months was sweat equity from two developers. Next 4 months was one lonely developer.
Once the revenues started coming in, the paid team has been growing about 1 person every 2-3 months since the start of 2009.

Marketing Expenses:
$300 per week in online ads. $2000 for a couple of magazine ads. $500 in t-shirt giveaways. $10,000 to take the team to a couple of conferences/events.

Other Expenses:
Servers: ($2k each)
Hosting/bandwidth: Hundreds per month

Total Expenses:
Approximately $150k in costs as of July 2009.

Downloads & conversion rate:
36,000 registered players.
Lifetime conversion rate from free player to paying player: 3.4%
4356 transactions from 983 paying players

Price: (USD)
Pricepoints range from $0.99 to $500 (all pricepoints have at least 5 sales)

Approximate total income: (USD)
$86,700 in PayPal sales
$5,800 sponsored sales (TrialPay, Gambit, etc)
$4,000 in ad revenue
$96,500 Total revenue

Comments on Marketing and Promotion:

“The game is very different from anything else out there right now, so there aren’t many direct competitors. It feels like an old MUD mixed with features from the new MMOs. Largely word of mouth, with some cheap banner ads purchased on low-volume sites.”

Other comments on the game sales? What tips you’d have for other other developers who want to increase their sales?

“Create something unique. Offer most of your game for free so that players can tell their friends. Allow the “free” players to have access to everything somehow (spending time, trading with others).

This will allow them to enjoy the game as much as the paying players, and they will spread the word.”

Thoughts about the future of indie development:

“Indie game development is tough to break into the big portals and have a large impact. Running an MMO is very challenging and far more demanding that I’ve ever imagined.
It is also very rewarding to foster the creation of an amazing community. Indies can connect with people in ways that big corporations can’t. The human touch – the ability to play with the creator of a game is something that players really enjoy.”

Thanks for the sales stats, this has been excellent information

“You’re quite welcome. I hope it helps other developers by giving them some financial insight into a successful, indie-run game.”

For more information about Tandem Games and their games:
Visit the developer website: TandemGames.com

To get notified when new sales stats are available (among other goodies), subscribe to the gameproducer.net mailing list.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Well, this game will fail because Aaron bans players that the moderators just don’t like.

    The moderators nit-pick at nearly everything that a player says/does. They micro-manage nearly every portion of your time on the game.

    Aaron, the guy running the game, isn’t the best coder, and he seems to rely on other players to create plugins for him to get the game to function correctly.

    In its nilla form, this game truly does have too many bugs to be worth playing, but luckily for Aaron, he has guys on there that are willing to donate their time/money for free to do the coding for him.

    Yes, I would say that is successful when you have people that are willing to fix all of Aaron’s coding issues w/o monetary compensation.

    Aaron should run to his local bookstore and grab a book on ‘Javascript for Dummies,’ then maybe he can accomplish something spectacular.

    Free labor = big profits. Good job Aaron. WTG!

  2. Any update would be highly appreciate. I’m curious same as Chris – is there an angel investor? What about ROI? Is already the entry investment fully paid?

    I would be also interested in statistic of user increase over the time vs paid vs mortality of paying users.

  3. Where did the money come from to fund the game? I see originally it was sweat equity. But how did you make up the $60k difference in revune vs cost? Is there an angel investor, private loans, or is Aaron absorbing the costs until they hit the tipping point?

  4. I asked Aaron and got a reply that they are going through a total revamp for their game, and want to share the stats after that (after a few weeks or so). Stay tuned (subscribe to my mailing list to get informed ;)

  5. I know this is an old post but it would be excellent to try to get an update from this project now we’re 6 months on. I’d be really interested in it.

  6. I think this is a success story.
    1) Dev costs are the biggest things
    2) The game hasn’t been out for many months…
    3)… yet it has already generated about 100k in sales

    We gotta do an update this later on – within some months/in a year or so :)

  7. Hello all – this is Aaron – just wanted to answer some questions. The $150k includes all salaries, contractors…everything. We haven’t made that much money yet, but…

    The sales curve on these persistent web/free games is not like a retail game. Our sales are climbing steadily. Averaging over $20k per month now. We’ve made about $8k in the last 10 days since those figures were taken. It won’t be long til we hit the tipping point and the revenues go into the heavy profit zone.

    One other note is that all of the company costs are attributed to this game. We’ve created 3 games since this one that will be launching in the next 2 months, so it is nice to have this game funding development of other (hopefully) revenue generating games.

    I’d be happy to answer any questions you have: aaron(at-no-spam-here)tandemgames.com
    I’ve read the sales postmortems here for the past 2 years and I’m happy to be able to finally contribute. We indies need more data like this, as well as places to talk with each other, so we can help with ideas for making our businesses financially viable. It’s tough enough to compete with the big guns with our limited access business/finance details. Small companies can’t afford too many big mistakes.

    Edit by Juuso: edited the email address for spam prevention purposes… you don’t want bots to find your email, right? :)

  8. As another PBBG developer/publisher, just want to say congrats to Tandem Games. Good to see successful figures.

  9. Does the $150K include salaries for the developers? Else I don’t see where that money went to…

  10. Yeh, it’s been online for a couple of months or so… would be indeed do a checkup on this game after one year or so.

  11. 2/3 of your investment returned within one month is AWESOME.
    From here on almost pure profit. Yes, this is a financial success.

  12. Part of that 150k are one-time fees, like the servers and whatnot.

    You can’t expect immediate profit in a business, especially a web-based one.

  13. “Total Expenses:
    Approximately $150k in costs as of July 2009.

    $96,500 Total revenue

    Obviously success is being defined as something other than making a profit. B-\”

    Yeah, I was thinking along those same lines. I was going to ask if the $150k part was a typo or something?

    Anyway, congrats on the ‘achievements’ thus far :)

  14. It seems that the some expenses is just once, but the revenue will be increasing, maybe there will be profit near future.

  15. “I hope it helps other developers by giving them some financial insight into a successful, indie-run game.”

    Total Expenses:
    Approximately $150k in costs as of July 2009.

    $96,500 Total revenue

    Obviously success is being defined as something other than making a profit. B-\

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