What went right
I got Steam I sold over 550 copies. Steam sales seem to work pretty well, I was able to sell over 100 more copies just by putting it on sale for 20% off for a weekly sale.
I proved to myself that I can take a game from idea to completion and sell it on Steam
What went wrong
Greenlight bundles may sound like a good idea but in the long run I think they aren’t. Around the time of initial release I was made an offer to participate in a Greenlight bundle. The promise of an influx of votes and actually selling copies sounded great so I sent some builds and Desura keys and it was all set. There were approximately 4000 bundles sold and for each of those I saw around 25 US cents (so I made roughly $500). That isn’t much at all for 10 months work but it was a bit of money that the game would not have generated otherwise and I thought it seemed worthwhile at the time. My votes went up too so that was nice. 2 months later I was Greenlit! After about 6 weeks I was ready for release. The game came out and it made a few sales. Stories I’d heard and post mortems I’d read online promised a much bigger response than I got, I wish there had been some figures for lower selling games. To date I’ve sold roughly over 1000 copies of Abomination Tower through steam and an additional 8 through other online stores.
Now let’s talk about key trading sites, this is where things start to suck for me. You know those 4000 copies I sold for 25 cents a piece, they all the users get Steam keys for taking part in the bundle. Now, judging by the slow influx of retail activations I’m guessing a lot of those keys are being sold on reseller sites. Sadly I essentially agreed to 25c a copy and they are being resold for almost full price, discounted just enough to undercut Steam. How much of that do I see? none. Yep, I already got my 25 cents so all the profit goes to the middle man. Obviously people learned to captialise off bundles like this long before I realised how any of it worked. I can’t blame anyone in particular, I realise this is something I should have researched and I’ve already made my sale, so there is nothing I can do. It just sucks seeing the key activations outdoing the sales on Steam. This means the resellers are making more money off my game than I am on a day to day basis.
Marketing and PR
Now that I have that one off my chest, let’s talk about marketing and PR. I guess I tried my best with PR but Marketing not so much, I was doing my best to operate on little to no budget, (expecting there to not be much return in the end). I did some Facebook advertising but that is about it. I don’t think that has really increased sales but it got me a bit of a following on Facebook that I could then send out updates to and hopefully sell a few more copies. I don’t think this worked out as one would have hoped.
I did a few press releases that I sent to those I could find contact information for. One when I had a trailer and a demo available, another on release, sending keys for itch.io copies of the game. Then finally another with my steam release. I also contacted a small number of Youtubers, some who had done previous let’s plays and other new streamers. I think this helped a lot. One thing that caught me off guard was that early in development, after I released my early work-in-progress demo, a video appeared featuring Abomination Tower by UberHaxorNova. I received a lot of communications from let’s players once I was on steam, a bunch of fake ones too but I was sure to verify identities through Youtube before sending off keys, though I’m sure one or two probably got through the cracks.
I’m going to keep contacting Twitch streamers and let’s players for a little while I think to see if I can get some more attention for the game. There is a list of prominent Twitch streamers available online so I will be using that to begin communications. I really don’t mind giving a streamer a copy of my game if it means as little as two or three more sales, but just getting views means people will recognise my game if they see it on sale on steam some time in the future and that could make all the difference.
When it comes to this end of development I have to think about business, the creative stuff came long ago, early in development but I don’t want you to think I’m just in this for the money (What money?) I still have a full time job to pay the bills and get me through the day to day. I’m just hoping that one day I will have enough money coming in to make it my day job. At this point it is still a little while off. Onto the next project 🙂