Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

48 hours until early access. The state of play

I’ve been around a long time, and released a lot of games, so this is hardly a new experience for me to be releasing something new. Plus its already out there in alpha pre-orders anyway, and this is just the appearance on Steam and GoG, plus I am not in dire financial straights or debt needing this next weeks sales to buy food, so taking all things into account, this weeks release of Production Line on Early Access should be no big deal.

Holy fuck its stressful.

I’m kind of prone to ‘fear of the future’ anyway. Nothing to do with games. As a kid, we did not have much money and I was aware of the constant fear of future financial problems. I also grew up during the height of the cold war, where we actually assumed we would all die in a nuclear war. We had TV programs like this, for crying out loud. I also remember watching a TV show (for kids, believe it or not) where armed police broke into a kids house, arrested his parents and seized their stockpile of food, because they were hoarding some. (70s TV for kids was pretty fucking bleak).

I am a political junkie, and an avid watcher of predictions about the future. I go from worrying as a kid about money and nuclear death, to worrying about the politics of my country, the environment, my own finances and pretty much anything I can worry about. I worry about how this blog post will be received. maybe thats why I used to have lots of hair.

..and now have less.

Anyway, I find solace in numbers, facts, statistics, and so on. Nothing reassures you that you don’t need to worry about X better than a chart showing you that X is fine. So lets go to the data!

Production Line went on sale to pre-order alpha buyers from my website on 22nd January. Since then it has sold about 9,900 copies. The price has risen steadily from $10 to $13. On Thursday it leaps to $15.99. You can do some rough maths and work out how much the game has earned so far, and indeed, it is in profit, if you assume all that code I wrote was free. if not, it works out as $23.84 per hour of my work. Thats not *bad*.

If we assume that the game sells another 10,000 copies at full price during its time in early access, plus another 20,000 at an average 50% price during its full release, that would bring in a total of roughly $425,000 revenue. Deduct development and marketing costs, and distribute that over the current dev time plus another six months… and my hourly income would be $93.22. Holy fuck. I can live with that. That sounds good.

Of course that assumes a long term tripling of sales. How likely is that? The market is tough…hmmmm.

Right now Production Line has a total of 2,313 wishlists on steam. There really has not been very much press about it at all. Press just seem impossible these days, and I can see why. they are swamped with whats new on steam. How to cut through? The occasional promoted post and facebook ad is ticking along for me, but I admit I am aiming for a lot of word-of-mouth here. I’m paying close attention to what players of the game think, and hoping if they really like it, they will play for a long time and encourage their friends to get copies. I’m also hoping people who played ‘Big Pharma’ will find the game interesting.

My YMLP mailing list has about 8,000 people on it. I have about 9,000 twitter followers and the PL Facebook page currently has 2,616 likes. I think all these numbers are ‘ok’, but does that put me in the top 5% of indie games? Hardly anyone above the real beginner tier of devs shares this information, so who knows?

I have bought a bottle of prosecco to drink Thursday night regardless, so I need to deduct that in my spreadsheet too… hmm….

So I have to ask myself what I am assuming here, and allows me to predict future trends. If I’m thinking 10,000 copies during say 6 months in Early Access, then I reckon 25% (2,500) in month 1, probably 1,200 in week one, so I’m thinking 300 sales on release day is a sign that I am on track.

I’ll let you know how it goes. I’ll aggregate GoG, Steam and mine direct, because you cant legally reveal exact store numbers. Even as I type this I find myself thinking ‘fuck, 300 sales in a day is *not* going to happen. ARGGGHHH. Quick! Add it to your wishlist :D

BTW I am still sending out review copies to popular youtubers, and websites, so email cliff AT positech dot co dot uk about that. I’ll be using keymailer on the launch day to send out some more.

6 thoughts on 48 hours until early access. The state of play

  1. With review copies, if you’ve launched and someone has a real audience and wants cover your game, they can afford to buy a copy, and they probably would because they want to support you.

    Therefore, review keys only have value pre-launch.

  2. Good luck with your new game! Seems pretty cool.

    Totally laughed (ruefully) reading your description of the crazy, scary era you grew up in. I was born in 1960, so did the practice drills responding to a nuclear bomb by taking cover under your desk, still traumatized by the scary ’70’s tv shows, etc – AND have to say that I think the current stuff my kids read and watch is way scarier. Most of the stuff is dystopian, sadistic fiction and it’s all in the context of plenty of real life scary stuff. The scary stuff is not focused on something like the Cold War (although all the current news about Russia is kinda ‘interesting’), but it’s just bad news everywhere you look. Likewise, The War in Iraq doesn’t seem to get as much media coverage as the Vietnam War eventually did, but it’s out there. I don’t know how to compare the Civil Rights movement with today’s Black Lives Matter movement, but things are certainly intense there. Seems like there’s more hopelessness and anger all around, everywhere you look with most people in our nation. Overall I think it was easier for most people (white people like me, anyway) to be growing up in the ’70’s.

  3. That program you’re thinking of, with the food riots, home invasions and the like. I remember badgering my mum to buy the theme tune on 45′ vinyl, so I remember the name. Noah’s Ark. Can’t remember too much about the actual series, though, unfortunately. Nor can I find much on the Internet about it, either. Shame.

  4. Thats the problem with today, so many people can write asset flips and publish them to stores (steam being the primary candidate) that the good ones are lost in the mess of it all.

    Valve, I believe is actually working hard to correct this and have brought in people (TotalBiscuit, Tom Francis off the top of my head) in the industry to help show people games that actually might like.

    For me, if I like a game, say Gratuitous space battles, I will follow that dev and see what else they make, has worked for me so far :)

    Thanks for reminding me about Threads, watching that at school was an ‘experience’

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