Check back in the middle of May for our “big” announcement.
You may have heard that XNA Community Games turned out to have a pretty bad performance overall in terms of sales figures, and I thought we should put our two cents into mix. To be blunt about it, Audiball had about 13,000 trial downloads, but only about 300 total purchases. We recognize the issue was not with quality (as evidenced by reviews and feedback we’ve received from players) but rather with the fact that the market for a guitar-controlled puzzle game is pretty small. We thank everyone who tried the game, and we hope that you were able to enjoy playing it as much as we enjoyed the experience of developing it.
Nonetheless, having a mere 300 copies sold in five months is rather disheartening to say the least. We aren’t in this for the money – we wouldn’t be making indie games if we wanted to be rich. But we’re also college students who made huge sacrifices to get this thing started and we at least need to match our budgets. I won’t try to say that the majority of the titles on Community Games are high quality because they aren’t. The fact remains that there are a number of titles with great production value that aren’t getting the proper attention either. This isn’t to say that Audiball had high production values, but rather to make the point that there’s no real pattern as to which kinds of games sold well and which didn’t. Some novelty games that took a week to make outsold games that took thousands of dollars and months to make. It’s not necessarily a bad thing: congrats to everyone who made a profit, but it’s not really what anyone expected out of the service. I’m not going to play the blame game on Microsoft or the media because the ultimate responsibility falls on the developers.
If 13,000 people download our demo, and only 300 actually buy it (a 2.3% conversion rate for those of you counting), it means that the players weren’t impressed enough with the game to buy it. We reached a large enough audience. We just didn’t deliver what they were looking for. As for whether “what they were looking for” is in our control or not remains to be seen.
Not everyone is going to enjoy the trial and therefore shouldn’t buy the game, not everyone actually has the money to buy games on their Live accounts, but there are also a number of people who won’t buy games without achievements – the gamers who purchase multiplatform games on Xbox 360 for that very reason. There’s no way for me to be sure about why each of those 12,000+ people decided to pass up a purchase, but it is still my responsibility as a developer to figure out where we went wrong and fix it: whether that means making changes in the development process or making changes in publishing isn’t completely apparent yet and that’s what we’ll be working out over the next few months.
Microsoft took a bigger risk than we did in starting the Community Games service, and even if it isn’t a financial success, it’s a huge step in democratizing game development. There are things that could have been done better on everyone’s side, but these results are just as bad for us as they are for them.
And oh, before I forget. If we could get back those two cents we gave you at the beginning of the article, that’d be great. We’re announcing a new game at the end of next month and we need all the development resources we can get. Knowing that it’s better than our last will keep us going for now, but the gas money would help move things along.
Our first professional review is in for Audiball, and we’re happy as can be. Calling it a “competent puzzle game with a refreshing style,” Destructoid gave us a 7 / 10. Hit the jump for the full review. (continue reading…)
We’ve updated our website to make it easier for us to update. Expect content more frequently now that we don’t have to fight with messy coding 24/7. We’re planning a number of new features so we aren’t currently allowing anyone to register a new account, but that will open up soon. What are some things you’d like to see on the site? Shoot us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to give us your feedback.