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  • Was It Worth Quitting My Job To Make A Game?

    [06.25.19]
    - Armaan Sandhu
  • (This is a post I shared on Reddit a couple of days back. You can read the original post here)

    I wrote a couple of posts on Reddit about quitting my job to go full time indie, and then another announcing the release of the game 2 years after that. The game, Rainswept, was released on Feb 1st (I worked on it alone, while contracting out the music)

    Getting straight to the important question - Was it quitting my job worth the risk/ Did it work out?

    Yes - but it might not work for everyone. The game wasn't a hit, and in fact performed a bit lower than expectations. But I can get by on this. One of the major things to consider that makes this work is the very low cost of living where I live.


    The numbers

    Before I get into that, let's discuss the fun stuff. Here are the numbers (1st Feb - 6th May, 3 months since release)

    Total units sold: 1249 (Steam - 978; GOG - 271)

    Gross income: $12,248 ($9,736 + $2512)

    Net income: $6422 ($4955+$1487)

    (The game is priced at $11.99)

    Net income is the exact amount that finally reaches me after withholding rates, Steam's/ GOG's 30% cut, returns, lower prices in different countries etc. Yes, it's almost half of the gross income.

    I find 55% of the gross income is a good way to calculate how much I'll be earning for each month's sales.

    I'll now focus on only Steam's sales and data, as their reports go into much more detail, is the major source of my income, and is also what most devs are interested in I'd imagine.

    On a monthly basis, this is the split:

    February (release month)

    Units sold: 711

    Gross income: $6793 (incl $100 recouped Steam direct fee)

    Net income: $3966 (incl $84 recouped Steam direct fee after VAT)

    Also:

    1st day: ~165 units; ~$1500 (gross)

    1st week: ~507 units, $4618 (gross)

    I was initially quite disappointed with the first day numbers as according to my research from that time, to reach my 1 year target (4k copies) I needed to sell 500 copies on the first day. That would then equal to 1st day x 2 = 1st week units (=1000) and 1st week x 2= 1st month (=2000 in first month) and finally 1st month x 2 = 1st year (=4000 in first year)

    Since then I've learned that this formula doesn't always apply, at least not for smaller games that have a longer tail and depend highly on word of mouth, discounts and sales. In any case, I'll learn more about this as time goes on.

    March:

    Units sold: 161

    Gross income: $1771

    Net income: $988

    Daily avg sales - 5

    161 units is 22%, or almost quarter of the 1st months sales.

    April:

    Units sold: 94

    Gross income: $1029

    Net income (estimated): $565

    Daily avg sales - 3

    94 units is 58% of March's sales, so the earnings are nearly further halved going into the 3rd month from the 2nd month. It is also 13% of the launch month's sales. I'm hoping that this is where the graph stabilizes, and that the coming months maintain the same number of sales as the 3rd month (except when discounted for sales, of course)

    I also released the game on itch and gamejolt a month later, but the sales were depressing, around 20 in total. This despite the game being featured on both those stores, and the demo I released in 2018 getting about 12K downloads. It would seem those are good platforms for demos/ free games, but perform terribly for paid games/ full releases.

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