Spiderweb on game sales, part the second
Jeff Vogel has his second in a two part blog post detailing some of the cost and sales numbers for Spider Web's games (part the first). It's pretty fascinating even though he doesn't hand out every last detail. It also shows how leveraging online distribution allows a game maker to benefit from the long tail. Geneforge 4, the game detailed, is not yet profitable but is on the cusp. And is a sure thing to be a long-term money earner even if it's not spectacular by indie standards (which are irrelevant by the money-hat-making standards of someone like Blizzard or even the money-bracelet-making standards of Valve). It costs Spiderweb software nothing to offer Geneforge 4 alongside all of its other games. Here's hoping it sells at a steady rate from now until the stage 4 zombie outbreak Popehat has predicted for 2016, and that he and his are able to weather those trying times and begin making games anew as the remnants of society begin to pick up the pieces (we will need diversions to help ease the burden of the horrors that we came through, of course).
In part I, he notes that the original Geneforge sold many more copies because it was offered via alternate sites like MSN games, where Geneforge 4 was not (or it was only offered through a few others). I wonder if that was a deliberate decision by Jeff to shift away from using outside entities. Here are questions I'd ask Jeff if I could: what do you think about Steam, Impluse, and even Gamers Gate (which I didn't much care for but they recently got rid of the awful client, so my opinion might change).? Do you plan on selling Spiderweb games through a broader selection of sites in the future? There are obvious trade offs – the chance for more sales must be weighed against the reduced profit per sale and the chance that sales from me reduce sales from thee. Lastly, can a studio can survive like this – games that break even in a reasonable period of time and then bring in a modest but steady income for years after , or if they need the occasional "hit" (relatively speaking, of course) to help ensure the company can keep funding games development, and not have to worry about every game needing to be a hit?
I'm hoping that he addresses this, if he's comfortable doing so, in a future blog post. I'm also hoping he finds it in himself to regularly update the blog. Not every day necessarily; given a choice between him blogging and making games I'd rather he do the latter. But he's offering a fascinating chance to see inside game development from a little-man's perspective.
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