Number of copies to recover your investment?

Pixelent Games

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Hey what's up, here's the question:

According on the time you have invested in making your game, what is the number of copies you need to sell in order to recover your investment? Have you thought about this?

Like "Well, if I made my game in a year, I need to sell my game AT LEAST X NUMBER OF TIMES".

I think this is very important, I had a number a couple of months ago, of course it has changed since I'm yet to finish my game, but do you have a magic number to reach in order to say "I didn't lose money making your game"?

Share if you want!

AP
Pixelent Games
 

Andar

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that question can't be answered for a lot of reasons.

First, there are several distribution platforms and publisher that simply forbid the developer by contract to ever reveal those numbers.
Second, it depends on how much you invested against the price you asked for, it has nothing to do with the numbers directly
 

JGreene

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I think unless game making is to be your primary income (or close to it), it's difficult to base your expected returns/profit off of anything except monies paid out in commissions. If you've managed to publish without any expenses other than your own time, it's pure profit.
 

Frogboy

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Just a ballpark:

Hourly Income = (Copies sold * Average price - All extra costs) / Hours Worked

If Income is at least equal to what you feel your time working on the product is worth, you broke even.

There's some x-factors in here I didn't touch on, though. Earlier games that build up your reputation and acquire a fan base are worth a lot too if you keep up with it. Most business take a hit up front in hopes of better future payout.
 
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XIIIthHarbinger

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No,

The simple reality is that if your goal in doing this, is to make money, then you're in the wrong place.

The number of hours you will invest, versus how much you will make in sales of your game, even if you have a "successful" commercial release; would have been better spent working a drive thru window at McDonalds, if making money is your goal.

The number of people who pick up a game creation engine, & actually make a game, are probably about 1% of the total user base. Look at the total number of users here, versus the number of "Completed Game" threads for some perspective. Out of those indie devs who have successfully made a game, those that can actually pay their bills from doing so, are probably less than 1%.

If you make money at all, 99.9% of the time it will effectively be "beer money", after you factor in your internet connection, software costs, any assets you've purchased, etcetera. & if you measure it as an hourly wage, kids in Nike sweatshops probably make more than you; & that's before taxes.

If your goal is to make money, being an indie game dev, ranks just slightly above buying lottery tickets. Because while the odds are about the same, the results are impacted by your skills & work ethic.

Right now the magic number being bandied about in the states is $15 US minimum wage. For my game profits to equal what I would have gained working a regular job at that rate, instead of the hours Steam tells me I've sunk into just MV; I would need to sell 18,879 copies at $5 US per copy. & that's not even factoring in taxes, vender fees, & operational costs.
 

bgillisp

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Honestly, it is a depressing figure, but here goes. Steam says I'm almost at 7000 hours in RPGMaker for my first project, which is now in beta. Add in the cost of the engine (2x, as I bought two keys in the end, as I wanted a non-steam version too), the art and music I bought and such, the math is something like this:

$5000 + 7.25 * 7000 = $51,250 is what I need to make to recoup a rough estimate of what I spent on the engine, art and music ($5000 is the rough estimate), plus assuming I worked flipping burgers for the same amount of time as I had RPGMaker open for the last 4 years.

Now, if I sell the game at $9.99, and let's assume that after taxes and publisher take I get maybe 40% of that (taxes will eat a LOT of your money, and in the USA I have to pay self-employment taxes and sales tax on my sales too), so that means I get $3.99 per copy sold. This means I would need:

$51,250 / 3.99 = 12,844.61 copies. And that is if none of them are sold on sale or via humble bundles.

Very unlikely needless to say.
 

Pixelent Games

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Nice answers! Yeah it's kind of "sad" but in the end there's a number to reach, of course the question can be answered! You just need to consider where you are selling it, price, country, living wages, etc, etc!
 

mlogan

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I've moved this thread to Commercial Discussion. Thank you.

 

Dankovsky

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Extremely hard question to answer.

First of all, how much money did you actually spent? If all you've spent are ~100 $ on engine and 100$ on Steam fee, your budget is essentially 200$, so you'll basically only need 20 sales to cover your cost (not counting fees, discounts and taxes, of course).

Secondly, as a part-time hobbyist indie with a day job, I don't think you should be counting "time spent" as a part of your budget. I believe it doesn't make much sense to put a price tag for your non-work free time, because you probably wouldn't work in that time anyways. I know there are a lot of opinions on that, but this is where I stand.

However, if you quit your job and develop your game full-time expecting it to pay your bills (please don't do this) then absolutely you'll need to count time spent on development and aim for profits to survive (and basically it means you're starting a business with everything that's involved).
 

Tuomo L

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You need to count up your budget first, all your expenses and such. You need to make that to make a mean average even and even then it's probably off a bit if you don't account for hours worked but that's really hard to count since no one's paying you sallary but yourself. I generally don't even account for hours worked because of that reason and only add the expenses like licensing costs or other investments that had to be made for the game to become ready.

You also didn't tell how much you'd charge for your game so I can't give any good examples.
 
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FluffexStudios

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This question varies based on so many factors. Each game has different budget amount and each game has different production quality. More effective time investment into a game will result in a better overall product and less amount of money spent. If you would like an example, then for me I spent 3 years working on my game and addition time for post release support. It took 6 months just to get back all my $$ spent on the game and start making profit. A lot of the time was spent on post release on marketing and addressing issues also.
 

SJWebster

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As others have said, it really depends on your costs.

For me, I started using RPG Maker 2003 for fun some 10 to 15 years ago and still find RPG Maker MV a great way to relax and have a creative outlet. For that reason, I wouldn't consider either the cost of buying MV or a "wage" for my own time as costs because that's probably what I'd have been doing for enjoyment anyway.

I'm a one man band, so I've not got anyone else to pay right now. That said, there's a plug in I'm looking to commission in Classifieds right now and it's becoming apparent I might need some people to help out with sprite art due to the quantity involved, so there could be costs there in future.

So if I released a game, I'd really just be looking at the $100 USD Steam fee. If the game was $4.99 and we assume a 70 / 30 split with Steam (I need to research their actual numbers) then I only need to sell 29 copies of my game to break even.
 

Kes

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@SJWebster don't forget to factor in tax on your income and things like that. There would also likely be some costs in getting all the business documentation that Steam now requires. And, of course, that plugin and sprite art is unlikely to be free.
 
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No way im making any money on my project ha ha. If I were to bill my own time the same as I bill most clients which is $35p/h.... well I have 800 hours between Aseprite and RPG Maker MV (Not including time spent marketing) on my game so far, its getting close to half way completed. So we are looking at roughly $28,000 of my own "money" gone into the project so far (as thats time that could have been spent doing freelance work). Thats before software licenses, buying a PC and Mac for testing etc as well, and again, for half a game currently. I plan on selling it for $3 on Steam because its a small experimental title thatll only be a few hours long. So as it stands I would need to sell over 10,000 copies to make a return on the project, but by the time the game is finished itd probably be more like 20,000 copies. I expect to sell 1000 copies if I am lucky.

Edit: Factoring in Steams cut and getting the money into Australia which means its getting taxed twice, make that 30,000 copies to break even.
 

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@VisitorsFromDreams : 1000 seems to be the famous stall out point for most indies these days. I've heard of some other developers (not RPGmaker developers) making a game and it not hitting 1000 copies on steam due to just how glutted the market is there.

@SJWebster : Kes has a point. It cost me $339 to get all that business documentation, though that was because I got an official legal consultation to make sure all i's were dotted and t's were crossed, which added to the expense. If I had done it solo I might have been able to do it for under $100.
 

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