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  • Launch Day Depression (And Why I'm Over It)

    [06.25.20]
    - Thomas Brush

  • Revenue Expectations

    I'm sane as I write this article not only because I know I'll be OK financially due to various drips of income, but also because I have a decent idea of what revenue should look like, not only on launch day, but also long term. 

    When I launched Pinstripe in 2017, part of me thought I would make a million bucks, but a huge part of me planned on making nothing. With a baby girl on the way, a mortgage, and a wife who was about to quit her job, you can imagine the mounting pressure and worry about whether Pinstripe would be able to provide for my family. On launch day, it became increasingly clear that, after the Steam cut and publisher cut, the revenue would not be enough. After a hefty (yet fair) publisher recoup I was left with less than what was needed for my annual salary.

    Basically, after the first month of launch, we had grossed around $50,000 (US). Meaning, Steam took $15,000, leaving $35,000 left over to distribute to me (the developer), and my publisher. 

    Wait. 

    Not really. 

    Remember the publisher fee was to be recouped? So yeah. I made nothing for a couple months. As you can see below the sales slowly flattened, and I was devastated. 

    What I didn't understand is that future Steam sale events were kind of like mini game launches. Various pops of revenue came throughout the year, especially during the Holidays, and we also participated in various bundles (including Humble Bundle), and even a Steam daily deal, which is that giant spike below. That was a great day!

    Additionally, I learned that revenue slowly add up from various platforms. It's amazing how a small drip of revenue can become a waterfall once your game is on pretty much every platform.

    Nintendo Switch performed wonderfully when we launched a year later. PS4 and Xbox were not so great, though, but honestly I'm not surprised. So, what I realize now is I should have been at peace during Pinstripe's launch, I just honestly didn't know what to expect. 

    All that said, for Neversong's launch, I'm at peace knowing if launch doesn't go perfectly, the game will still sell plenty of copies with the various Steam sale pops of revenue, and likely match or out-perform on Nintendo Switch. It's all about the long game, so don't panic when things don't play out exactly as you would have hoped on launch day! In the end, Pinstripe has actually grossed a decent amount, and I'm more than proud of it. I know that at the very least, Neversong will likely perform similarly, and that's comforting.

    Partnerships

    The stress of launching a game solo is insane. It's honestly not healthy. Some people are made to do this. Not me. 2017 was one of the hardest years of my life, and I just wasn't willing to do that again for Neversong. Now, I've got a team of developers going to war with me. I've partnered with a developer and a publisher, Serenity Forge. In 2017, I pitched them a couple sentences over the phone regarding Neversong, and they immediately loved it. They agreed to publish and also develop Neversong, in exchange for a reasonable rev share. I would be the artist, musician, story-teller, game designer, and lay out the levels, and they would code the game from scratch per my direction. I also hired out several interns, and even worked with an ex-Blizzard artist Peet Cooper, whom the protagonist of Neversong is named after. It's been an amazing experience, and we're all friends because of it. It feels amazing knowing Erik, Z, Kevin, Kersti, Hector, Tripp, Phil, Adam, Peet and myself are all in this together, and working hard to see a successful launch.

    Peet Cooper's amazing cut-scene art!

    Wait. Hold on. I was about to conclude here, but I forgot something!

    Apple came into the development cycle at the eleventh hour, and funded a mobile port, along with 14 languages, and a ton of upgrades and updates to the game. It's been amazing working with them, and I'm thrilled to see Neversong coming out on so many platforms. Yes, their support makes this launch 100x easier, but I can honestly say my maturing as a game dev has really given me some peace, especially the various dripping income sources outside of Apple.

    In conclusion, this launch is heavenly. It just feels totally different, and it's all because I've been resilient enough to build various income streams, wise enough to look at long term data, and humble enough to ask for help from various partners.

    If you're interested in playing Neversong, it's 15% off on Steam right now! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the game. 

    All the best!

    Thomas Brush

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