A September to Remember for Three Indie Games

October 1, 2010 -

September proved to be a good month for three independent game developers: Zeboyd Games, Carpefulgur, and Mojang. Let us start with the elephant in the room that is Minecraft. It has been widely reported that the developer of Minecraft, Markus 'Notch' Persson, has made $3,787,748 off his game to date - and it is only in alpha! The game is DRM-free, and Persson does not care all that much about piracy. Obviously, that position has not hurt sales.

Persson has reportedly had job offers from Bungie and Valve (he declined) and is now focusing on opening up his own development studio. Here's what Persson told GI.biz:

"Most my time these days is taken up by meetings and lawyers, accountants, banks, potential partners, potential employees, and the occasional interview," he claimed yesterday. "The few hours I do have to develop the game every now and then are mostly spent on looking into bugs and replying to emails."

While Minecraft is the most successful of the three, Carpefulgur's localization of a two-year-old game is doing pretty well. According to an RPS report, 26,000 copies of the RPG-business simulation game from Japan have been sold to date. The game was launched earlier this month on Steam and Impulse. A rough guess is (at $20 a pop before paying out whatever distribution platforms get from the deal and development costs) that Carpefulgur has made $520,000. Not bad for a game about running an item shop.

Finally, there's Zeboyd Games, whose Xbox Live Indie Game Breath of Death VII: The Beginning, has sold 30,000 copies on Xbox Live after five months on the market. The RPG sells for 80 MS Points ($1), which means that this little developer has raked in $30,000. That might seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it is an impressive milestone for a company that clearly did not expect to find so much success.


Comments

Re: A September to Remember for Three Indie Games

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/30292/Interview_Carpe_Fulgurs_Dice_Ta...

 

Looks like they got more than double their six month hopes in a single month.

Re: A September to Remember for Three Indie Games

"The RPG sells for 80 MS Points ($1), which means that this little developer has raked in $30,000."

The developers get 70% and the rest goes to Microsoft (which is a pretty good deal), so it would be closer to $21,000.  

 

Pwnage of Empires Xbox 360 Indie RTS

Re: A September to Remember for Three Indie Games

How about piracy dose not really effect a copy righted item much as it makes money or profit based on its popularity and of the general interest the public has in it. As nothing sales without popularity and interest.

 

Piracy is a fact of life that can not be mitigated by inane, absolute and poorly thought out arguments.

Now I will give you that profit based(ad rev,donations,direct sell) is one of the few absolutes that not only is easy to see it diverting money from the legal retail profit chain, it can be easily separated from fan based non profiting things and be found and heavily fined and levied to go away or become legal.

 

Going to extremes over copies and distribution is silly and the media industry has fought tooth and nail exclaiming taping would destroy them, it did not, neither has CDs,DVDs,Ipods,digital distribution, in fact they have made more profit which each generation of device/service so at the end of the day no the public is not doing harm to the industry as much as using their heads to save a buck to buy the core media items they want, rather than be fully lead by the crouch for whatever trend the media industry shats out.....


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Re: A September to Remember for Three Indie Games

I honestly can't make heads or tails out of your crazed babbling.

Re: A September to Remember for Three Indie Games

Ahm.. how is minecraft "DRM-free"?

You can not even try the game out for free.  In fact that is probably one of the things hurting it since I know people who have gone 'I would like to try out minecraft, but I don't want to fork over money just to find out if I like the game'.

Re: A September to Remember for Three Indie Games

There is a free version of Minecraft.  It's a different gameplay mode from the standard $13 version (current USD cost converted from Euros), but it's still free.

Re: A September to Remember for Three Indie Games

I thought that was only for the time period that the server was down?

Re: A September to Remember for Three Indie Games

I believe he's talking about Minecraft Classic, which is free to play.

Re: A September to Remember for Three Indie Games

"The game is DRM-free, and Persson does not care all that much about piracy. Obviously, that position has not hurt sales."

Nonsense.  That reasoning's just as bad as when a publisher claim that a game's poor sales is all the fault of piracy.

There's no information here that indicates how much of an effect the DRM-free nature of the game had on sales.  All we know is that sales have been high overall.  It's possible that sales would be higher with some relatively mild DRM (say, no worse than Steam) by converting some casual piracy into sales.  It's possible that sales would be lower with any DRM at all by driving away honest gamers who hate DRM as a matter of principle.  But arbitarily assuming that the DRM-free nature of the game hasn't hurt sales, in the absence of any real evidence, is downright dishonest.

Re: A September to Remember for Three Indie Games

Or he could mean that he has reached and/or passed his sales expectations and thus figures piracy is not as big an issue as some developers/publishers want you to think.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: A September to Remember for Three Indie Games

That's even worse.  Now you're trying to generalize the Minecraft case to the game industry at large even though we still have no idea what sort of impact piracy did or didn't have on the game.  All we know is that the game's successful -- we don't know how many sales were or weren't lost to piracy.  If, hypothetically, piracy made him lose 10% of his sales, he'd still be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars.  To try and draw any sort of significant conclusions about piracy from this is crazy.

Re: A September to Remember for Three Indie Games

I've gotten pretty tired of the lost sales argument used over and over without a real understanding of how it doesn't have a static definition in the first place.

For a company that sells physical units of a game, a "lost sale" means that someone physically stole the unit from the shelf...causing an actual negative financial impact on the bottom line (the publisher paid for the space and the unit, and now must pay again to have the space filled without having the benefit of a sale to make up for the payment).

For a company that sells digitally and is impacted by piracy, this "lost sale" argument is very different. Except for the very first time that a pirate downloads the game from your site (which makes a negligible financial impact on server cost), the rest is cost to the pirate in time (and possibly money) of getting the game up on bittorrent sites, etc.

At that point, "lost sales" is defined differently for different segments of the game industry. For a company like EA, who defines a customer as any person who would play the game, every pirate who plays the game without paying for it is a "lost sale". Someone who they have determined would play the game if EA just in some way forced them to with the right kind of DRM (or they won't play the game).

Indie game publishers are more likely to define "customer" as someone who is willing to pay for the game. A pirate cannot, by definition, be considered a customer, as they are not willing to pay for the game. Thus installing DRM, especially annoying DRM, which would drive away paying customers (i.e. "customers") would in fact result in "lost sales".

Re: A September to Remember for Three Indie Games

I don't disagree with you. There is no scientific way to validate the effects piracy has on game sales.

My point is that if piracy does not matter to the game developer, they will take their sales data as is without trying to quatify the impact DRM/piracy has on the sales. They will instead focus on why the people who bought the game bought it.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: A September to Remember for Three Indie Games

You have your links messed up. The GI.biz link links to RPS while the RPS report links to GI.biz. :)

Oh and the retweet button leads to: http://tweetmeme.com/about/fail_404

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