Spirits of Metropolis Sales Stats

David Galindo from Vertigo Games shares the story about the development of one his games: Spirits of Metropolis. The game was developed during college. This post is written by David.

Game Title: Spirits of Metropolis

Developer: Vertigo Games

The Goal/Objective:
David: I had made about ten free games prior to Spirits of Metropolis. The first commercial game I made, ShellBlast, did relatively good. I decided to set my sights on the casual games market with an original take on the match-3 gem genre. My goal was to get it on casual portals and perhaps help fund my other games. While the game got great reviews and a lot of people seem to like it, I didn’t really come close to achieving what I wanted to do sales/traffic wise. But this is only my second commercial game, and I’m optimistic about the future.

Development time:
The game took about nine months to complete, on and off during college. In actual dev time it probably took about three-four full months.

Release date:
December 22nd, 2008

Total sales (units):
31 sales in total (including distribution sites like D2D, GamersGate, etc.). Nine sales were made in the first two months of release, with about two to three sales a month so far. About $430 made in total.

Price (USD):
Originally priced at $20, the game is now $12.95. The new price hasn’t really affected sales at all.

Other income:
Placed on Game Giveaway of the Day in July for a $300 compensation sum. While this was a nice amount of money to get as I was/am a bit low on funds, the piracy rate spiked immediately after the game was made available on the site due to the lack of DRM. I knew that risk before going into the deal, and while it does make me a bit mad, I don’t blame sales/profit from here on out on piracy at all. It happens.

I paid about $250 in total art/music costs. There were other expenses made for a previous commercial game, called ShellBlast, which I was able to use for Spirits.

Downloads/Conversion Rate:
The game has been downloaded around 850 times, not counting the times downloaded on other sites like YoYo Games (8,300+) which aren’t very good places to advertise premium games, as it’s a primarily free game/young gamer site. So you could look at it as either a 3.6% or 0.3% conversion rate. The game is also featured on other distribution sites like Direct2Drive and GamersGate, but has no demo/trial to download on those pages.

I think I really failed here. The first step was to try and get it on as many casual portals as possible, and out of the forty plus I emailed, only two replied. GamersGate was on board as I already had a game with them on the site, and Direct2Drive was interested and picked up the game as well. RealArcade didn’t want it, but actually responded to me in just a few days after the email with some tips and pointers on what I can do to maybe get picked up by them in the future. It made a huge impression on me, and I can’t praise RealArcade enough despite the rejection. They have some really fine people over there!

So once I realized that the casual portal plan wasn’t going to work…I didn’t have much of a backup plan. I had made a lot of games previous to this one that was definitely an indie/somewhat casual type vibe that had a good audience, but this game was made (now that I think about it) with no intended audience. It was a bit too complex for casual gamers and out of their sight with no casual portal deals, and was too casual/puzzle for the audience I already had. I was left with literally no audience to sell the game to.

The game did make its way around the indie websites, with a post from IndieGames.com, a few good reviews from puzzlelicious.com, and the demo going out to a few sites for download. A debut trailer was put up on GameTrailers.com with about 7,800 views, but again I mis-marketed the game and replaced the relaxed-vibe music with a more rock/alternative music track in the trailer to market to the non-casual GameTrailers crowd (it didn’t work too well going by the comments on the video page).
I also had an official website from the game, but I do regret doing that now- it is too far detached from my main website. Looking back, I would have rather integrated it more with my main website to get more exposure for my site as a whole…only 3,000+ viewed the main Spirits of Metropolis site since it launched eight months ago, which is only 3% of what my main site gets for the same amount of time.

Another big push was done by Direct2Drive for an $8 day sale, with a video/ad on the front indie games page. That resulted in three extra sales, much to the surprise of the guys at D2D. It’s a game that doesn’t really sell itself very well unless you play it, another one of my mistakes.
What I have been doing since then is releasing content DLC level packs for free on my blog. I have done four so far and plan to do six more before calling it a day, and if anything its showing people who haven’t bought the game and aren’t interested in it that I support all of my games as much as possible, which can hopefully lead to a bigger fanbase for future games.

Nowadays I’m gearing up with another person to launch an Xbox Indie Game in a few days, as well as a small indie game releasing for $2-4 soon, and that’s a lot more in my comfort zone. Tackling a casual game with limited experience and few resources wasn’t one of my smartest moves, not to mention that I could be doing a lot more to give the game more exposure. But, it is a huge learning experience.

David Galindo, Vertigo Games

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Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Just as a heads up, I found this game through GGOTD, and hadn’t heard of Vertigo Games prior to seeing it available through GGOTD. Having visited your website and playing some of your games I think you’ve done an excellent job of making really catchy and cool games, so I hope you keep it up.

    Spirits is acutally my favourite too, a very unique, professional and polished game. So, I wanted to let you know too that there are three things that caused a barrier to sales, from my perspective:

    1. No way to demo the game before buying. You mentioned it yourself:

    “It’s a game that doesn’t really sell itself very well unless you play it, another one of my mistakes.”

    Yup. Once you’ve played a bit you realize how unique and addictive this game is.

    2. Price

    For a casual game, I’m looking for something in the $5-10 range, since it’s going to give me a few hours of fun (or at least, if I buy it I don’t feel too bad if I ultimately don’t wind up enjoying it for long). I don’t know how that price point fits with what you’d planned, but that’s the reasoning that goes on inside my head when it comes to casual games.

    3. The link to it being a “Match-3” game

    The genre is pretty much worn out in my mind. Yet, your game felt so unlike any of the other Match-3 games out there, it just barely qualifies as a Match-3 game. I think it was a somewhat of a mistake to get the game connected to the Match-3 genre. I would have pushed it more as a puzzle-reflex game personally.

    If I’d been able to download the game, play say the 1st and 2nd constellations, then told I could buy the rest (including any puzzle packs you put out, and the puzzle editor) for $4.99 or $5.99, it would have been an easy sale.

    Anyways, just wanted to shout out and let you know that I love your work, and wanted to share my 2 cents about what would have kept me from buying. Hope you keep it up!

  2. Well I just checked a few sites that i monitor, none of them have Spirits of Metropolis so I’d really love to see which sites you are talking about.

    Keep in mind there are tons of fake/scam sites that list non-existing items as “in their catalog” or that “have been download XXXXX amount of times”.

  3. @Game Maker Blog, basically it was just an increase in the piracy sites found when searching for Spirits of Metropolis in Google…I don’t have any hard numbers and probably never will, but those sites weren’t prominent before GGOTD. It’s not their fault; I chose to make the game without DRM, and that’s just one of the consequences.

    Glad you guys liked the article, and a big thanks to gameproducer.net for letting me share my experiences!

  4. Ouch. A rather sad and sorry tale! You’ve definitely got the right attitude; chalk it up to experience, let go, and move on. Hope your next game goes better. TBH I have some trepidation about the earning potential of XBox Indie Games, but please go ahead and prove me wrong. :-)

  5. Always interesting to see statistics like this.

    You wrote that after placing the game on Giveaway of the day the piracy rate increased – how did you monitor that? Presumably just searching for the game?

  6. Thanks for the stats, sorry it didn’t go better.

    I do have the game from GameGiveawayoftheDay. It’s quite interesting, and I thought the overall atmosphere was quite original. The gameplay is indeed a large change from regular match-3, I think it may have influenced the sales…

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