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  • Postmortem: Chestnut Grove

    [02.04.21]
    - Philip Drobar

  • Finishing, Releasing, Pricing

    On August 31st I officially released v1.0 of Chestnut Grove, meaning there would be no additional content updates, only bugfixes.

    The game had a whole extra area that was not included in the Beta, giving testers an incentive to get the game and replay it.

    I contemplated the pricing till my head hurt. Chestnut Grove is a short game, if you'd just run through it, you'd have no problem finishing it in 10-15 minutes. Being more of a walking sim than a mechanics driven game, I knew that people would probably also be turned off by a big price tag. In addition, I felt that people might think I'd be exploiting the coronavirus pandemic for my own financial gain.

    In the end, I decided to set the price as a pay-what-you-want with a recommendation of 3,- USD. I can't provide further analysis or expertise except that I think that game pricing, in general, is anarchy and a lawless wasteland.

    A nice thing that happened was that users who chose to pay for the game actually paid more than the recommendation, some even over twice as much. But I'm thankful for everyone who downloaded and played Chestnut Grove, even if they did so for free.

    Post-release

    I continued to do a couple of QoL updates on Chestnut Grove, bringing the current version of the game up to v1.3.

    Most of these are minor bug-fixes, localization fixes, and the saddest part: Updating the latest numbers of total COVID-19 cases and deaths. I knew that adding a statistic to the game of an event that is still ongoing meant I'd have to update or be outdated, but it was important to me to at least include these two numbers.

    On social media, I still posted about the game here and there. The last/most recent marketing activity was in November 2020. I reached out and joined podcaster and streamer Indiegamiacs on his Virtual Indie Booth, showcasing 15 minutes of the game. You can still watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkCszPgOXD

    Final thoughts

    I'm happy with the game I made and how it performed overall. That's what mattered most to me.

    I didn't set out or expected to be a breakout indie hit, neither did I made myself financially dependant on it. Keeping my expectations in check helped me stay sane and enabled me to just focusing on learning from the whole process.

    For example, looking solely at the metrics, it probably didn't pay off to translate the game to German and Spanish, but I'm glad that I did as it was a great learning experience and if even one person was able to play the game due to the offered languages, I'm happy.

    I'm also incredibly thankful to all the people who helped me make Chestnut Grove, especially Sofía, Sina, and Stephan.

    And a big thanks to everyone who played it: If you did, it would mean the world to me to send me a tweet, message, or email. How did it make you feel?

    You can get Chestnut Grove here: https://philip-drobar.itch.io/chestnut-grove

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