Don’t quit your day job? Here’s why I haven’t…

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by Over00, Aug 24, 2010.

  1. Over00

    Over00 New Member

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    My first game Golemizer will be 2 years old on September 14th so for the occasion I decided to share some numbers about sales, expenses and how players are spending money on an indie MMO (the first M can stand for "Mini" if you like since I don't have "Massive" numbers).

    It's up on my blog here: http://www.over00.com/?p=819

    If you want the short version I still haven't made any profit (incomes of $4027.45 and expenses of $5,981 after 22 months) but I'm far from considering it a disaster since it was a first experience (got to learn somehow eh) and the game is still online and got to a point where I don't have to look in my pockets anymore to pay for servers and maintenance. The loss is mainly due to the lack of a proper business model at launch (don't ask I guess I was just waiting for the money to fall from the sky...) though it has been "back on track" to some level since April 2009.

    I'm not looking much at the "why it didn't do better" in this post since I have already done so before (post is a bit negative but I got over it) and it gets to a point that I could sum up a lot of things by just saying that I was a newbie not having much of a clue about what I was doing.

    But like I said even though it would have been nice for the game to do better I'm still extremely happy about actually having released the game and seeing it grows for 2 years now. It's not a financial success but it sure has been a nice learning experience.

    If anyone have suggestions on how to improve this post just let me know!
     
  2. SteveZ

    Indie Author

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    I'd say quit the day job once the momentum is there. Download titles wise, imo to take that plunge is when a dev released a solid sellable title and is in the process of starting another one.

    As far as running a successful ftp mmo, I'll leave that up to Nexic :)
     
  3. cliffski

    Moderator Original Member

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    Interesting data, thanks for your post. Did you spend any money on marketing / advertising over that period?
     
  4. Jack Norton

    Indie Author

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    Thanks, interesting info. On MMO from the little I know is very rare to get a super-start, but is more income slowly going up as you add new content/polish the game.

    To be frank those figures would be a big failure as downloadable game, especially comparing the expenses (with downloads you don't need to spend so much on hosting).
    But my first few downloadables still made less money overall :)
     
  5. tunca

    Original Member

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    i just had a look at Golemizer, it has x100 potential than you did. once you find your biz model your full-time job will be history. for example a friend of mine had been struggling and doing numbers like yours, they made a deal with a telecom company and made ~500k$ in the first year.
     
  6. Nexic

    Indie Author

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    What I think is interesting is that your sales stats are at least going up month to month rather than down. $400 a month definitely isn't a living, but if you could keep 90% that would at least be a nice bit of supplemental income that may grow over time.

    What I don't understand is how you need to spend $240 in server costs for a game that has only seems to have around 20 people online at a time? For example, my current server costs $600/month, but can support over 3000 players online at any one time. I would look at optimizing your code and settings to take some strain off of the server and then downgrading to either a really low end dedicated machine, or even a VPS.
     
  7. ManuelMarino

    Original Member

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    I continue to think that working on multiple projects and types of games/media/products is a successful business model.

    I know teams working this way and it works.

    Talking with the CEOs, it's clear that it's very difficult to earn from a single project and maximizing the use of the skills of anyone in multiple projects is the key to success.
     
  8. Over00

    Over00 New Member

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    A tiny bit but again it was mostly some random tests I did just to get to know what was available, how it was working and what I could expect from it. I've been mostly using http://www.advertiseyourgame.com/ as it's from there I had the best conversion rate at the cheapest cost.

    But overall it's nothing much to talk about. There was a time I was mostly focusing on trying to get on portals so I left advertising behind. Again it was a lot of work (most of these make it easy for Flash games but not so much for a Javascript client, odd technology choice I know) with little results.

    But since Kongregate added an MMO category visible on their front page I've starter seeing some results from them. About half of sales of July are from Kongregate.

    Oh it's like you suggested a matter of optimizing the code and settings. That was the first server base I ever built so I did a lot of things the wrong way and screwed up more than once. I also spent too much time on new features instead of spending more time optimizing everything.

    And the server wasn't totally stable until a few months ago to be honest. I have hit quite some problems that I had no clue how to fix at first and had to learn along the way. The server is also coded with VB.NET which is probably far from being the best choice.

    So the server code is better than it was at first but still far from being optimized. Some people would probably pull their hair looking at the code.

    Since I started to work on Golemizer in 2007 I also released Blimp Wars (that's just a testing version as initial release was a mess and the game is set to be re-release later in a slightly different form but not by me) and last winter I released Dungeon of Loot which was a really simple project I didn't spent much time on. Those two projects were built with the same framework as Golemizer.

    Right now I'm working on another project as only a programmer instead of trying to do everything myself. I still have much to learn and it's nice to change seat a bit. Working with Brian is also a blast. Our first small project (which is mostly just to test a new framework using Python and Flash) should be online at the end of September and we're working on something bigger that I'm not ready to talk about yet.

    Being able to work until release on a game like Golemizer and then to maintain it for 2 years (and counting) brought me some opportunities that I jumped on. So Golemizer is far from being my only project ;)
     
  9. electronicStar

    Original Member

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    I don't know why I haven't heard (or remembered) about Golemizer earlier (it might tell you sthg about your marketing) but just reading the description on the website I found the idea very interesting. I almost wanted to try it (but I have neither time nor facebook).
    Sorry for being another guy that gives advice but you should keep working on it. $300 to $400/month is not something that you should brush off as a failure. It can always go up.
    And why don't you try and integrate blimp wars and dungeon of loot in the golemizer universe? you could try to make one huge steampunk universe, that could become interesting.
    One of your main problem IMO is the art, because pixel art is not very good for this kind of games.
    If you don't want to keep working on the game you could also try selling it?
     
  10. Chris Evans

    Moderator Original Member

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    I also launched my MMO a little over 2 years ago.

    SocioTown isn't talked about much around here, but we've had some nice linear growth, especially in the last year.

    I think you should really consider adding a subscription model to your game. it's a great way to be profitable even with a small userbase.

    Also subscribers help you make the right improvements to your game. My subscribers always give me good suggestions for the game and when I'm implement some of them, they stay happy and they stay subscribed. Also if I'm veering in the wrong direction, they'll let me know (fairly vocally at times).

    Keep in mind just 400-500 active subscribers is $2500 - 5000 per month depending on your subscription price. This doesn't even include your item/game credit sales. So you don't really need a lot of users to become sustainable if you keep your overhead low.

    Building and maintaining a subscriber-base is still a lot of work. But if you're struggling to get large amounts of traffic like me, then it's definitely the way to go where you can still quit your day job fairly soon. :)
     
  11. Over00

    Over00 New Member

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    Oh I'm not shutting it down just not focusing as much as I did for the first year of development and first year after release. Part of learning is to manage yourself a bit and to allow yourself to try other things.

    Golemizer is already big enough as it is. Even a small sandbox MMO like it is still a lot of work without merging other games in it.

    They say we must never say never so I'd just say that it's very unlikely such thing will happen. While I'm letting someone else relaunch Blimp Wars the same won't happen with Golemizer. Got a nice IP there and if I managed to get to this point as a total newbie then it's just some more motivation to try to do better next time with what I learned. So keeping the IP would be a nice starting point for a possible new project (later, way later).
     

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