We’ve shared a lot from the world of the developers, with details about how we calculate jumping physics, why we’ve refactored code, and a lot of other technical stuff that gives you some insight into the development of Blightmare.
This week, we’re kicking off a new series, with some of the nitty gritty details from the production and marketing side.
When it comes to developing games as an indie, there’s a number of challenges that need to be considered, and, to speak honestly, a number of harsh realities that need to be faced.
- Indies are invariably resource strapped. You simply don’t have the cash, people and other resources of a large company.
- Games are an incredibly competitive landscape, and it can be really difficult to stand out from the crowd.
- There is no guarantee of success.
- Basically everything on this list ties to #1.
This week’s blog is going to focus explicitly on #2 on the list, and start to show under the hood of what Indie marketing looks like, and trying to solve the problem of getting Blightmare recognized and hyped for the great game that we believe that it can be.
So, let’s get to work. If you’ve never released a game on Steam before, you may not be familiar with some of the developer tools that are provided, so let’s take a quick peek at what’s made available by Valve to developers.
What you’re seeing here is a view of the wishlist dashboard that is provided to developers by Steam, and it shows how many players have added Blightmare to their steam wishlist.
There’s a whole lot of behind the scenes math here, and there’s going to be some language that we use that sounds a little gross (marketing stuff basically always does), but this is a necessary evil in creating, marketing and distributing a game.
For the forthcoming example, we will be using a fictitious title called “Kitemare”. We haven’t established prices, formal release dates, etc, so it’s a bit easier to understand if we use a different title name.
Generally speaking, a “good” conversion rate for steam wishlists is around 50%, but we like to err on the side of caution and assume a conversion rate of 25%. What this means is that for every four players who add Blightmare to their wishlist, one will likely end up purchasing it.
Now, let’s assume that Kitemare is listed on the steam marketplace for $10. Steam takes an industry standard revenue share of 30%, which means that for each copy of Kitemare that is sold, the developer receives $7.
Doing some simple napkin math, we can say that for every four people that add Kitemare to their wishlist, it’s developer would see $7 in revenue.
So, what does this mean? Well, if you’re a solo developer that is making a game for release on Steam, you’re going to want to earn enough money making that game to eat, have a roof over your head, and maybe go out with friends now and again. Mileage is going to vary here depending on where in the world you live, but we’ll average it and say that you need to make about $70,000 a year in order to live comfortably (Editors note, this number also makes the math a bit more convenient and easier to understand).
In order to earn $70,000 a year to live on, we know you’re going to have to sell 10,000 copies of the game (note that this is a simplification and doesn’t take into consideration reduced revenue during sales, package bundle sales and other factors).
Based on our example before of having a 1:4 ratio of sales to wishlists, we know that you’re going to need about 40,000 wishlists as an individual in order to make enough money to live on every year.
Relating wishlists to earnings isn’t a perfect process, but it’s one of the more reliable metrics that we have, and hey, it’s better than nothing.
So here’s the $70,000 question. HOW. How do you generate enough interest, hype and wishlist additions to your game to ensure that you can work on something that you love and are proud of, while not living in a stick hut in the wilderness subsisting on grubs and berries.
This is where marketing comes in, and for most indie developers, it is the most distasteful part of trying to make and sell a game. In fact, I’d be willing to say all, because to date, I haven’t met an indie dev that enjoys marketing.
There are a number of ways to market a game, all with varying degrees of effectiveness.
- Digital Advertising
- Word of Mouth
- Viral Marketing
Add Blightmare to your steam wishlist here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/859160/Blightmare/
Follow Plateau Games on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/plateau_games