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Thread: What is stopping you making twice as much money?

  1. #1

    Arrow What is stopping you making twice as much money?

    It's something I've been mulling over. Whether you sell 1 game a month or 30 games a day, few of us have reached total market saturation. I'm pretty sure everyone on this forum has the theoretical possibility of their sales doubling this year.
    What's stopping you?
    I think some likely factors could be:

    1. 1-lack of market awareness of your product
    2. 2-inferior overall game quality
    3. 3-too much competition in your area
    4. 4-lack of polish in your games
    5. 5-low game prices
    6. 6-piracy
    7. 7-lack of business connections
    8. 8-games released too infrequently
    9. 9-spending too much on a game in relation to its earnings


    I think about this stuff a lot. I suspect my chief limits right no are 1) and 4) with a bit of 2) in there as well. I suspect everyone here will reach a different conclusion, which I'd be interested to see. Also, what else am I missing? is there some big obvious limit to sales that I'm just not seeing?

  2. #2

    Arrow

    1. Is the biggy for me personally, but that kind of goes away a lot when a decent publisher comes onboard.

    5. Is a bit odd tho in that I stick old software out at $9.95 and new at $14.95 and it sells better than when it was all at $19.95 (which was the standard price when I last checked).

    If I don't bring a publisher into the equation it all becomes pointless in terms of sales from my angle on PC, but I always like to offer direct sales as far as possible just in case it turns out to be another popular hit (rare as rocking horse poo tho these days really with so much good/better competition!)
    Adrian Cummings
    Software Amusements

  3. #3

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    #1 is my top barrier also. Trouble is I run into #9 trying to solve #1.

    #3 is certainly true for Dirk Dashing, at least on Windows. Dirk does fairly well on Mac though.

    #4 is certainly true of my older games, though I'm about to solve that problem for Fashion Cents with the upcoming release of Fashion Cents Deluxe.

    #8 is something I struggle with too, as a part-time indie. I'm sure I could have lots of repeat sales if I can just get new games churned out at a steady pace. Problem is it takes so long to make a game when you're only working 5-20 hours a week on it.

  4. #4




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    #1

    I fell off of the front page of FilePlanet today and my sales have plummeted. Useful to see how exposure helps - 1500 downloads turned into roughly another 44 sales, give or take, so I'm wondering if being a tight SOB is hurting me. I'm going to try buying some traffic this week and see if I can find a profitable cost per eyeball out there in advertiser land.

  5. #5

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    #1 has to be the biggest of all. If Oprah were to talk about how much she loves a certain little match-3 game on her show, for example, the maker of that game would be rich overnight. (Perhaps she should drop the whole book club thing, and start a casual game club.)

    I don't think #5, price, has as much effect as people might think. The common thinking is that businesses tend to overestimate how many customers they'll have for a given product, while underestimating how much they'll pay for it. A slightly higher price may even increase sales, due to the elevated perceived value that price suggests. In any event, a good game selling for $24.95 needs to sell 400 copies to earn $10,000, while that same game would have to sell 101 additional copies at $19.95 to earn that same amount. So will you lose 100 buyers out of 500 if you price your game $5 higher? Maybe, but it all comes out the same, anyway, with less bookkeeping for the seller to boot. *shrug*

    Of course, #2-4 and #6-9 are all important... that goes without saying. A low-quality unpolished product, pirated like crazy, in an overly-saturated market, written by someone who spent way too much time on it, when he or she could have been releasing other games, is a recipe for disaster.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by cliffski View Post
    Also, what else am I missing? is there some big obvious limit to sales that I'm just not seeing?
    10. 10- accessibility or lack of availability on other platforms.

    I'm not sure if you count this under one of your other points but if some people are to be believed then it could have a significant impact.
    (Not intended to impugn the 'word 'O cas' - there is a special level of hell reserved for those who would dare)

    I know you have made Mac versions of your games available, was there a noticeable surge in your sales? And were they enough to merit the need for #10?

  7. #7

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    #1 definitely

    #2 + Not understanding UI design and Upsell techniques

    Much more than people think IMHO. The number of games I see which could (IMHO) significantly boost their conversion rate (by a multiple, not just a fraction) with only 2-4 weeks of changes...

    My most recent purchase and current fave Chromadrome 2 is one such example. I'm loving it, but it just needs a few tweaks to have a wider appeal - while still being a niche game.
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  8. #8

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    taking advantage of other markets is a good one yes. I sort of contract that out, rather than doing ports and handling sales directly myself, because of my lack of knowledge of those platforms. I also haven't even tried to get into consoles or mobiles with any real effort, and maybe that's somewhere I should be looking?

  9. #9

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    10 - Lack of useful partnerships.

    I know this relates to other items (contacts), but I think it goes beyond that. Finding partners who can help you in terms of production, marketing or whatever, I think could really help a lot of people.

    11 - Lack of clear target audience.

    Again, kind of touched on, but explicitly, I think not knowing who your audience is at the outset is another one. If you clearly define who your audience is and more importantly WHERE they are, you could definitely perform better.
    www.mindflock.com - social AI-based games

  10. #10


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    Fundamentally my problems are all down to lack of exposure. Put Titan on the front page of Apple.com and it sells 50 units a day. Right now it only sells 50 a month.

    So I got to thinking (last year) what was it that drives the most traffic to my site, and basically it's... releases. Release a game, massive sales spike. Value-for-money-wise, releasing a game has always proved to be the best driver for sales. After we're done with the current (big) project we're going to do a 1-month game to see how that fares. So that's our big plan: release games. Just keep releasing games. Nothing cleverer than that. (Apart from the other thing - consistent style to educate fans).

    Cas

  11. #11

    Arrow

    I have found also that having mobile game titles out (that sell thru many times more than PC anyway by their very nature and price) pulls more visitors into the site to look at the PC stuff on offer also in my case.

    Because many of the mobile titles are available around the world form various portals etc. and more importantly via 'Greystripe' as FREE adwrapped software, that this is the greatest way to free exposure I've ever seen to date.

    Whilst there's not as much money as there was in mobile, for me it is a great way to generate free advertising to the name 'Software Amusements' via 'Mobile Amusements' in my case - which is branded into every mobile game I've put out and then some!

    It all helps and also is a great way of driving me some contract work to help pay the bills into the bargain.

    All free exposure is good exposure really when it comes to this sort of thing.

    I'm still always looking to make point no.1 the main area of focus tho.
    Adrian Cummings
    Software Amusements

  12. #12

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    I'd like to add to sillytuna's point about upsell and say:

    12 - Not improving upsell techniques and demo version limitations

    As one could have a great game, but if the demo version doesn't give the user the taste for more, you're screwed... Or there might be something other trivial keeping the users from buying the game.

  13. #13

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    Sometimes it also works out that you can give the consumer too much in the way of a demo tho, and then they don't buy it either and yer still screwed.

    I like to give them approx 1/6th of the game every time as a demo which I think has proven to be plenty enough in the past to keep them interested enough to try and buy the full version (if they want it).

    Then there are the special 'lite' versions that come out later for half price with just half the levels (popular with some larger publishers in retail multipacks) that add to products ultimate longevity over many years (8 years in my case with some titles!).
    Adrian Cummings
    Software Amusements

  14. #14

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    Yup, that sounds pretty good There's no magic formula so it's all different from game to game, I guess one should try different limitations strategies, and log the result and use the best one, not that I've done that so extensively yet but

    In Steve Pavlina's example, giving the user a little as possible is the way to go

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by niX_BB View Post
    10.I know you have made Mac versions of your games available, was there a noticeable surge in your sales?
    Having a Mac version worked well for Dirk Dashing. Probably 2/3 of my Dirk Dashing sales are for the Mac version.

  16. #16

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    "1500 downloads turned into roughly another 44 sales"

    wait....you avg 44 sales with every 1500 downloads? That comes out to a sale every 35 downloads. If that number is true, you're missing out on a gold mine by not increasing your downloads by addwords, advertising, etc. ?????

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by JGOware View Post
    "1500 downloads turned into roughly another 44 sales"

    wait....you avg 44 sales with every 1500 downloads? That comes out to a sale every 35 downloads. If that number is true, you're missing out on a gold mine by not increasing your downloads by addwords, advertising, etc. ?????
    Yeah that equates to almost a 3% conversion rate. Most people are happy if they get to something approaching 1%.
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  18. #18




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    Very unsophisticated measuring system. I was around 2 sales a day so I lopped off 14 sales for the week. But the game does sell, every time I get new exposure it gets more sales. I'm going to try a game banner ad. this week and see how that works out. Maybe it's time to monkey around with giving some cash to Google.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by lennard View Post
    Very unsophisticated measuring system. I was around 2 sales a day so I lopped off 14 sales for the week. But the game does sell, every time I get new exposure it gets more sales. I'm going to try a game banner ad. this week and see how that works out. Maybe it's time to monkey around with giving some cash to Google.
    I plugged you on my blog, that should be good for 0.25 of a sale.
    "Don't lose your loose change."
    Jason Maskell, Tamed Tornado Software

  20. #20




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    Sweet - off to spend the $4 now!

    Read your blog - are you in Van. BC? I'm just up the coast!

    For clarification, I do occasionally flip a house but it's not my full time gig - actually, since dropping out of "the bigs" I don't exactly have a full time gig. Which is kinda how I like it - my ADD played havoc with any kind of consistent career anyhow.

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by lennard View Post
    Sweet - off to spend the $4 now!

    Read your blog - are you in Van. BC? I'm just up the coast!

    For clarification, I do occasionally flip a house but it's not my full time gig - actually, since dropping out of "the bigs" I don't exactly have a full time gig. Which is kinda how I like it - my ADD played havoc with any kind of consistent career anyhow.
    Yep, Burnaby to be precise.

    I've only been employed by a company again for 3 months or so (after 6 years of self-employment) and already I'm chomping at the bit. I'll probably drop back to full time indie status when the wife gets out of school and starts pulling down a living again.
    "Don't lose your loose change."
    Jason Maskell, Tamed Tornado Software

  22. #22

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    10. Structure your demo to effectively sell the game

    This one comes from Steve Pavlina in one of his articles he wrote a while ago. It states that you treat your demo as an advertising for your full game. Small changes to how the buy now is structured, for example, can have a strong impact on sales.

    -Steve Z.

  23. #23

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    Missing from the list is fear of spending on marketing. It's very difficult for a novice [at marketing] to know how much to spend and where. It feels like gambling.
    Last edited by Spore Man; 09-17-2007 at 01:54 PM. Reason: grammar

  24. #24

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    that's because it *is* gambling. But if the thought of spending money with no guarantee of returns really scares you, being an indie software dev is not for you.

  25. #25

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    Here's some possible reasons that could apply to some people (not saying these would be in my case though):

    13 - going through portals without establishing a solid customer base on your own (could be sometimes the case)
    14 - not going through portals (could be fatal in some cases)
    15 - focusing too much on new customers than paying attention to old customers (which are more easier and less expensive to sell to)
    16 - releasing new games instead of add-ons and expansion packs to old games
    17 - not taking advantage of alternative revenue generating streams in addition to selling your game (ads, affiliates, etc.)
    18 - creating game with too new technology
    19 - not working with the right team
    20 - not having clear short term goals
    21 - not having clear long-term goals
    22 - spending too much time in front of TV compared to producing your game
    23 - poor USD exchange rate (for foreign developers this is an issue)

  26. #26

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    indeed, 23 is a crippling issue for us here in the UK, where dollars bills are only good for lining the litter tray of my cats. Bah.

  27. #27

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    on the upside, buying in art is cheaper

    Get yourself some artwork while the going is good cliff! We'll have a depression soon enough and the $ will be back in the toilet.
    www.mindflock.com - social AI-based games

  28. #28

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    Even our street cats won't go near the dollar at the moment!
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  29. #29




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    Release a game, massive sales spike
    Can someone explain to me why this actually is ?

    I've not really gotten my head around internet sales/marketing at all yet, so broad reasons are welcome. I mean, if the spike is actually on release day that implies they're not coming every day to check for releases, so how do they know you just released something ?

    I have a lot to learn about this, but I've not even started to understand how it works yet, let alone how to manipulate it in my favour
    Regards,
    Paul Johnson

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  30. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Applewood View Post
    Can someone explain to me why this actually is ?
    Well, it is simple: press release, reviews, buzzz.

    If you don't have something new, people will not talk about your site or your old games. Having a new releasing, increase your traffic and your sale on your new game+old games.

    JC

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