How well did your first game sell on the market?

Discussion in 'Commercial Games Discussion' started by Knayter, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. Knayter

    Knayter *teleport behind you* Nothing personal kid Veteran

    Messages:
    229
    Likes Received:
    479
    Location:
    Viet Nam
    First Language:
    Viet Nam
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    Just like the title, I was wondering how did your first game sell on a market like steam? How much copies did you sell at the first month and up until now? Did you receive a lot of reviews? I'm still trying to see is it really worth it to put a game on the market.
    Also, if you have your game published by a publisher,then how did you find someone to publish it? And do you guys have any recommendation for good game publisher on steam?
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
    #1
    onekksu likes this.
  2. SimProse

    SimProse Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    363
    Likes Received:
    197
    Location:
    United States
    First Language:
    English
    My first game overall on Steam (3+ years ago) was:
    It stands now at 2,257 units -- $4,403 total. It got pretty bad reviews early on and I think that killed it quickly. Still with sales and such it did ok, I guess. Good thing my budget making the game was $260. :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
    #2
  3. Matseb2611

    Matseb2611 Innovate, don't emulate Veteran

    Messages:
    4,595
    Likes Received:
    6,464
    Location:
    UK
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    I think a lot of how things were 2-3 years ago will not be the same nowadays, seeing how Steam market has drastically changed. It will be harder to get noticed as an unknown developer nowadays than it was back then. My first commercial game (not the very first game I made as I made some free games first) was Atonement: Scourge of Time.



    It was first released at the end of 2014 and early 2015 on other marketplaces like Desura (which is now bankrupt), Indie Game Stand (which is also gone now), Greenman Gaming, etc. It was on Steam greenlight for a good 6-7 months before it was approved and released in summer of 2015. My next commercial game (Incitement 3) went through greenlight faster, and things got some traction with every new title afterwards. I'd say Atonement 1 did pretty well overall. It's still selling to this day, albeit not huge amounts, and most on big discounts, but people are still buying it here and there. And same goes for my other older games, like City of Chains, which was received really well.

    The good thing is that with every new title you release, you also draw attention to your older titles. If people like one of your games, they're likely to check out the others too.

    It's a lot riskier now to be a start up indie dev, as getting noticed is more of an uphill battle than before. You could still have a go at it with a smaller game project and see how it fares before deciding if committing to a larger project is worth it. But a lot of factors could make or break your game's success - the visual style you use, the gameplay premise, the price you set for it, how good your trailer and screenshots are, the total length, and even the timing of release.

    Regarding a publisher, I'd say only go for them if they really have a significant influence and can get your game noticed, and so that they don't take a huge cut (or worse, an upfront fee). I've been working with a publisher whom I met here on the forums since I went commercial but ended it very recently. He's had much more connections than me and worked with a few other game devs too, so I could concentrate more on game making. I've enjoyed working with him, but things are quite different now in the market, and small-time publishers have almost as little influence now as the devs themselves, so it might not be a good idea even getting one now.

    Anyways, I hope this helps.
     
    #3
    cabfe, jkweath, rue669 and 3 others like this.
  4. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

    Messages:
    12,059
    Likes Received:
    12,230
    Location:
    USA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    Most analysis I've done show that many games stall near the 1000 copies sold point. We've had a few developers report their sales total, and there is one game that said they only sold 1,048 copies in the first few months it was for sale. Also Echoes of Aetheria (spelling might be off there) didn't sell well until it was shoved into a humble bundle in 2017 even though it was the same developers as Skyborn.

    Also the maker of Aveyond posted an article that said that Aveyond 4 made only $30,000 in sales (that was per an interview with Therampantcoytoe), which at a selling price of $14.99 calculates to only 2000 copies sold (rounded).

    Though, it gets worse. I did some reverse math with steam achievement percentages on a game I bought and I also noted how much the percentage went up each achievement I got (about 2% increase with each one I earned) and came up with the game sold...a whole 45 copies. Sure someone else could have gotten the exact same achievements I did at the exact same time, but that's pretty improbable.

    So I'd say based on my research a first time game developer might do really poorly. But if you can keep at it and get an audience, it will open up.
     
    #4
  5. FluffexStudios

    FluffexStudios Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    100
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    Our game sold over 1500 copies so far, it has been almost a year. Sale is what usually get a lot of our copies sold, I'd say around 75-80% of our games are sold through sale. As for reviews, we don't get too many, we are sitting at 23 steam reviews currently and hoping for more so we can get feedback as we move toward our new project. Right now is definitely not the best time to post up a game on steam like it was 2-3 years ago, but I feel that it won't get better any time soon but it won't hurt to give it a try and see how it goes.
     
    #5
  6. Storyteller-Hero

    Storyteller-Hero Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    198
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    I haven't sold or completed any video games, but I have gained a few years of experience self-publishing tabletop supplements on an internet site with lots of competitors. Trying different things to get my products to sell more has yielded some insight.

    Not everyone is willing or able to make a day job out of marketing their product, and some might not employ the right marketing strategies for their particular product, so a great product could still sell poorly due to a lack of knowledge and/or effort for the marketing aspect of selling the product.

    There's a cost of time and potentially funds so it's natural to be hesitant towards exploring avenues of marketing, especially if the developer is not in a stable financial situation.

    It comes down to how much one is willing to SUFFER for their art, and how much they are able to adapt to their limitations. Even then, they might not do better than to break even after all the work they've done, which is why it seems that most RPG Maker developers are just in it as a hobby pursuit rather than to seriously pursue a living.
     
    #6
    Knayter likes this.
  7. CleanWater

    CleanWater Independent Developer Veteran

    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    738
    Location:
    Brazil
    First Language:
    PT-BR
    Primarily Uses:
    Other
    Well, I have three games so far on Steam.

    The first was "Ok".
    The second did (and still do) better than the first.
    The third game (signature) also was "Ok".

    The fact is: "you don't really know how well your game will do before you release it."

    I recommend you to not let things get you down if your first release sales wasn't that great, though.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2018
    #7
  8. jkweath

    jkweath Goes Fast Veteran

    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    162
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    N/A
    My first game has made about $400 dollars - it was an MV game that used the default assets and that I didn't do any marketing for whatsoever, so I wasn't too surprised. I'll be satisfied if it breaks $500 in its lifetime.

    My second game has made over 10x more than my first game. I attribute that to using different assets (the FES package to be exact, but it's different enough that people don't immediately write it off like they do with MV/VX RTP). I also put some work into marketing, mostly by making the Steam page more appealing and handing out keys to content creators.

    What @bgillisp said is very true, though - I wouldn't necessarily put the stalling point at "1000 copies" but rather "after 1-2 months". This is because Steam helps promote new games, but new game promotion stops after 1 month--then, if your game didn't sell much or get many reviews, it pretty much falls off the radar. After that you pretty much have to rely on discounts and sales events.

    @CleanWater - judging by the number of reviews on Fantasya Final Definitiva, it seems like your game might've sold a lot better than most RPGM games. I've been theorizing that perhaps the "flooded jRPG market" is actually a "flooded English jRPG market" and that perhaps games in other languages, such as Portuguese, and perhaps Spanish, Mandarin and Japanese, may sell better as they're naturally marketed to audiences that aren't flooded with so many other games.

    Do you, or anyone else here, have any thoughts on this?
     
    #8
  9. Parallax Panda

    Parallax Panda Got into VxAce ~2014 and never stopped... Veteran

    Messages:
    648
    Likes Received:
    1,007
    Location:
    Fukuoka, Japan
    First Language:
    Swedish
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    While I'd love to share some numbers, I can't. Because I've yet to put a game on STEAM... and the way the market is developing, I'm not sure I ever will. To support this claim, here's a YouTube video that you might find interesting.

    I'd assume 99% of all RPG maker games are part of what he refers to as "crap games and asset flips", so the estimates later on in the video is probably not very relevant for anyone here. The estimates at the beginning of the video on the other hand might be. And somewhere between 50-1000$ seems like a good guess for what an RM game might bring in during it's first month(s) if launched now (in 2018).

    ...but it's just speculations built on estimated numbers. Still that's all we really have.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2018
    #9
    Knayter and Matseb2611 like this.
  10. Matseb2611

    Matseb2611 Innovate, don't emulate Veteran

    Messages:
    4,595
    Likes Received:
    6,464
    Location:
    UK
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    Thanks, @Parallax Panda. Useful video, although I think we should take it with a grain of salt, considering most of that stuff is estimates and not based on clean data from the developers themselves.

    I would highly doubt that Early Access for example makes your game sell better. I think the numbers he got from that is simply down to a small sample size and other factors. For example, it will mostly be bigger games from high end indies that are priced high which will go on Early Access. Someone making a $5 game is very unlikely to release it as Early Access first. If everyone was to release in Early Access, including the smaller indies, then those numbers he's given would massively drop.

    Ramping up the price is also a bit of a dangerous advice. The reason higher priced games ($15+) have sold better is likely to be due to those games being made by bigger studios with much more influence, and hence they get more exposure on Steam. If you're a solo developer or a small team, even if you make a very good game that's worth more than $15, I highly doubt its sales would reach those numbers he's given. So higher sales for higher priced games is a correlation but not a causation - big difference.

    The numbers he's given earlier on are indeed closer to what RM games can hope to make in the first month. But you know, first month isn't everything, and depending on your game, it could still be selling months or even years later. Besides, direct sales from Steam aren't the only way you can get income from your games. When you include them in indie bundles and the like, you can earn a fair bit from that too. It depends on the company that's organizing the bundle and also how often you do this (obviously including your games in bundles all the time, devalues them quickly).
     
    #10
  11. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

    Messages:
    12,059
    Likes Received:
    12,230
    Location:
    USA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    That can vary though on which bundle you put it in. The maker of Clans: Saga of the Twins claims to have made $10,000 in sales on that game between Steam sales and bundle sales, mostly from bundle sales. And well if you go to the steam page the reviews are anything but flattering for that game.
     
    #11
  12. Parallax Panda

    Parallax Panda Got into VxAce ~2014 and never stopped... Veteran

    Messages:
    648
    Likes Received:
    1,007
    Location:
    Fukuoka, Japan
    First Language:
    Swedish
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    Putting the estimated revenue and all that to the side. The most important part of the video presentation is right in the beginning. Namely the comparison of between February 2017 and 2018. It's just one month so again, maybe not the most reliable data, but I do believe things are getting worse and worse at an alarming rate for small indie devs on STEAM - Especially after STEAM direct launched.

    And the fact that new games just keeps coming like there's no tomorrow means that the sea in which your game can disappear after they loose that initial spotlight as a new release is ever increasing. I'm disappointed in myself for not putting a game out there in 2014-2016, but then again, if things look bad now, looking back in 5 years... maybe I'll say something similar about 2018?

    Maybe rushing something out ASAP really is the best strategy when looking at the estimated sales of RM games over the years? Since a "crappy game" back then seems to often have had better sales than decent games nowadays. Again, how will things look in 4-5 years from now? Even worse? :kaosigh:

    But I feel that I'm sidetracking the conversation a little so I'll stop here. The video I linked about is worth watching though. I leave it at that.
     
    #12
  13. Matseb2611

    Matseb2611 Innovate, don't emulate Veteran

    Messages:
    4,595
    Likes Received:
    6,464
    Location:
    UK
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    I think the biggest factor for the drop between Feb 2017 and Feb 2018 would be the Steam's new algorithm. I think the market saturation, although a factor too, isn't making things alarmingly worse. Although my games weren't making $2k in the first month back then, I'd say that the income from them certainly has dropped very noticeably in the late 2017. It was when Steam Direct only launched, and if I recall, Steam has had big changes to its algorithm then too, so the chances for your game to appear in people's recommended feed is almost non-existent now unless your game has a lot of "activity". Now this is vague, but I think it means things like the number of reviews, the number of concurrent players, and so on. And let's face it, only bigger companies can afford to have a high activity around their game. So your game quickly drops off the radar after the first couple of weeks now, which wasn't the case prior to this change.

    So what I mean is, things might not be getting alarmingly worse now as we speak. The drop in sales might not be the same between 2019 and 2018 as it was between 2018 and 2017, so long as Steam doesn't introduce a big change that hurts the indie devs further.
     
    #13
    Parallax Panda and jkweath like this.
  14. jkweath

    jkweath Goes Fast Veteran

    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    162
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    N/A
    Agree here. There's a lot of talk on these boards about how Steam games are being devalued because developers keep charging less and less for their games. I'm charging $9.99 for my next game to break that "cheap game" mold, and I'm already very worried that my sales will drop considerably (outside of discounts) because of that. That being said, I want to experiment with a higher price anyway, and if it turns out to be a bad idea, I'll probably go back to the $4.99 price point on my next game, possibly even cheaper than that.

    I've felt the same way. I started RPG making only a few months after MV came out, and I've found myself wishing I'd started years earlier with VXAce instead.

    I think it's easy to get discouraged at the sheer volume of games releasing nowadays, but I also think it's important to remember that many indie developers, even today, manage to break this mold one way or another and make plenty of money. The important part is figuring out what steps they took to do that.
     
    #14
    Knayter and Matseb2611 like this.
  15. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

    Messages:
    12,059
    Likes Received:
    12,230
    Location:
    USA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    @jkweath : Actually I think that is a good idea. Sometimes when I see a cheap game I just think it's garbage and don't even look at it more. Showing people you value your game somewhat might actually work in your favor. I'm thinking mine I may ask $14.99, just to see how that works out.

    Though I also find I buy a high % of my games on sale now, just due to how high my backlog is. So a higher selling price = more money when you do that 50 - 75% off sale everyone seems to do in the winter and summer.

    PS: I joked this on another thread, but I do wonder what would happen if someone asked for $59.99 for an RPGMaker game? Would they even sell a copy? Or would they still sell the usual 1000 copies or so like most do, and stall out? I wonder if anyone knows how to contact that dev who is selling an RPGMaker game for $29.99 right now to find out how well it is doing.
     
    #15
  16. CleanWater

    CleanWater Independent Developer Veteran

    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    738
    Location:
    Brazil
    First Language:
    PT-BR
    Primarily Uses:
    Other
    @jkweath, Fantasya Final Definitiva REMAKE did "fairly well" on Steam, being only in Brazilian Portuguese, because of three factors:
    • During the 2000s, RPG Maker was quite a thing here;
    • We had a flood of awful made RM2k games, then, some guys decided to poke fun of these games doing RM2k parody games, and their games were very successful on that time;
    • Fantasya Final Definitiva was one of those games, it scored very well alongside the "BR-RPG parody" genre.
    Here's an article a local site wrote about the original versions of these games (REMAKE is a compilation of two games):

    https://tribogamer.com/noticias/10506_game-brasileiro-fantasya-final-definitiva.html

    Talvez alguns aqui já tenham se aventurado pelo rpg-maker. Eu mesmo fiz um jogo no começo dos anos 2000. Saudades de meu "Contos de Etora"... Ou seriam "Contos quebrados de Etifa"? Já não lembro... Sei que nunca passei do capitulo 2 ou da primeira hora de gameplay.

    Não satisfeito em fazer um game o criador logo lançou uma continuação para o game. Fantasya Final Definitiva 2 é uma continuação direta do primeiro game e depois do protagonista ficar preso na nave espacial ele decide retornar a Terra mas as coisas não ocorrem tão bem assim (ok sem spoilers).

    Fantasya Final Definitiva 2 está tambem bem mais caprichado que o primeiro jogo e conta com uma historia mais bem elaborada, três finais alternativos, extras no fim do jogo, novos personagens jogáveis e sidequests para conseguir os itens especiais do jogo.

    Fantasya Final Definitiva 2 foi lançado em fevereiro de 2013, após um hiato de 2 anos após o primeiro game da serie. O autor explica que isso ocorreu por que ele resolveu utilizar ferramentas mais abrangentes que o rpg maker e desenhar os proprios personagens.

    O dev Informa em sua pagina pessoal ainda que além de Fantasya Final Definitiva 1 e 2 ele já fez 3 jogos: Guarda Castelos (shoot'em up); Guarda Castelos Upgrade e Porradaria (este ele avisa: é uma porcaria não jogue - lol).
    Mas alguns conseguem fechar um game inteiro e em alguns casos mais de um. É o caso do criador do game Fantasya Final Definitiva que se "inspirou" na serie de games da Square para fazer seu próprio jogo.

    Fantasya Final Definitiva conta a história de um ronin beberrão chamado Samuka, que não sabe de onde veio nem para onde vai (ok usou clichê). Mas apesar do argumento principal ser um pouco clichê (ok muito clichê) o game é bastante divertido pelo seu foco na comedia e pode garantir boas doses de risadas com Samuka, seu cachorro Totó e seus amigos.
    In other words, nostalgia played a huge role when it came to selling this game on Steam. Even for those that didn't knew this game on that time, they remembered about how good it was to play other similar parody RM2k games years ago.

    I'm really aware that if I had translated this game to English, it would be over flooded with negative reviews from non-Brazilian players. The dept this game have here is completely different from other nations point of view. I could compare it to Dragon Quest being a hit on Japan, but scoring poorly outside of it.

    All I can say is that I realized something I believe nobody noticed yet: "All the big companies of nowadays started to do games focused on their local market first instead of going worldwide right away (like almost every non-American indie do)".
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
    #16
    Knayter likes this.
  17. jkweath

    jkweath Goes Fast Veteran

    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    162
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    N/A
    @CleanWater aah, I see. Thanks for clarifying. Glad to see your game performed well.

    @bgillisp that's a funny idea to think about, selling an RPGM game for $59.99. I can't imagine how that'd go - maybe if an actual experienced development team used the engine to its very limits and the end product didn't even resemble an RPGM game, I could see it possibly going somewhere, but otherwise... I dunno. Maybe a few people would buy a copy and refund it? It just seems like nowadays most indie games, even the really good ones, sell in the $10-20 dollar range, sometimes going up to $30.
     
    #17
  18. DivideByZero

    DivideByZero Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    158
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    I'm still yet to make a cent from any games (only ever published one, which was free on Android).

    Any money I have made in game development is with extensions/plugins and presently sits at about $5K in sales.

    Seems there is more money in making software that helps others to write games (at least for me anyway). No complaints here, I do it solely for fun anyway. :)
     
    #18
  19. TakeHomeTheCup

    TakeHomeTheCup Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    242
    Likes Received:
    458
    First Language:
    English
    What game is that?
     
    #19
    Golden Unicorn Gaming likes this.
  20. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

    Messages:
    12,059
    Likes Received:
    12,230
    Location:
    USA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
     
    #20
    Eliaquim likes this.

Share This Page