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Marketing efforts and KPI’s – Week 2

Hello three-parts luck Giants!

Our second week of focusing our marketing efforts to get any kind of sales during launch has come and gone! We’re going to review the current state of things, check for some improvements and then look at what we’re going to do next.

Let’s make one thing clear: For the most part, this week I focused on improving and updating the game. Beta 6 still hasn’t released yet because I overhauled and re-written most of the game systems. So the results reflect that. Our current data puts us just bellow 600 wishlists for the end of the week. Here’s the data:

  • Current wishlists: 588
  • Estimated week 1 net revenue: 1764$
  • Estimated copies to be sold: 294
  • Estimated year 1 net revenue: 8820$

Since last week our wishlists went up by about 100, at an average of 14 wishlists / day. That right on track with our needed wishlists ratio / day in order to reach the target wishlists of at least 1000 during launch.

It’s good to be on track, let me say that! At a 10 wishlist / day rate (our current worst case scenario), we’re looking at about 900 wishlists with one month and one week to go before I hit the publish button.

Wishlist conversion rate

Before we go further, let’s talk about the 0.5 average multiplier (or conversion rate) between wishlist and purchases. As I mentioned in the previous posts, this is what it is. Just an average that Jake estimated based on his research. You can read more about it here.

However, just because it’s an average that doesn’t mean that’s what it will be. For us it can be anywhere between 0.1, the more realistical 0.25 or a huge boon of 0.7+. Let me put it this way, with 1000 wishlists and a 0.5 conversion rate we’re fine! It’s going to allow me to work on another game this year in a similar 2-4 months time frame. It’s good, it means we keep on going. However, if our actual conversion rate will be closer to 0.25 things won’t look so good. In short, it’s barely going to be enough to cover rent for the time spent doing development and would bring us close to almost breaking even, but not really. This would mean that I have to go get a job asap, so a bit of a more cloudy situation in terms of future Bearded Giant Games this year.

An 0.7 conversion rate would pretty much mean that I can take almost up to a year to make and release another game, giving me the option to fail at least once. It would be the best case scenario but it doesn’t seem likely to me at this point.

I’m pretty sure I’m not lucky enough to achieve the 0.7 conversion rate however there is one thing that I can do, and that is, to do what I can do best: Polish the game even more and try to garner more and more wishlists before launch. A 0.25 conversion rate would be the same as a 0.5 at 1000 wishlists if I can reach 2000. So I’ll do my best to push for as many as possible in order to assure I don’t go back to designing free2play games.

Ogh, was I too gloomy? Sorry, here’s another gif from the latest build to make up for it.

As for how development on the game is going, well, I tried my hand at a quick devlog where I talk about the changes the game received since the public demo up to the current (unreleased) beta! You can check it out bellow:

If you like the game and want to help us out, you can do so in a couple of ways:

  • The easiest way is to go to our store page and wishlist the game, so you’ll be notified when it comes out.
  • Another way is to spread awareness of our marketing efforts, for two reasons:
    • First one is that it’s going to help other developers estimate their launch performances
      • Improve their marketing efforts
      • Adjust their expectations
    • Second one is that it’s also going to help boost the awareness of the game to people inside the industry. This doesn’t mean just game developers, but also editors and writers. They might not want to write about the game by itself but they might find an angle about Steam’s state and the game could get some more awareness because of that!
  • In order to help spread awareness about this you can link people to this blog post, the original one or the live data tracking document itself.
  • Third options to become our patrons. For as little as 1$ a month you can help us reach a steady revenue stream. We’re up to 50$ a month right now and, long term, it helps a ton.
  • Forth option is to follow me on twitter and re-tweet my stuff! It’s going to increase my reach and hopefully help get some more people to notice the game!

That’s it for the this week!

Thank you, Giants!

 

 

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Marketing efforts and KPI’s – Week 1

Hello dream-fulfilling Giants!

It’s been almost a week since the previous post were we setup our targets for the Space Mercs steam launch on July 31st! If you haven’t read it, I recommend giving it a quick scan so you’ll know what I’m talking about here. We’re going to look at our KPI’s (Wishlists, traffic, impressions and store visits), see how we generated them (articles, interviews, tweets) and setup a plan for next week!

Let me start this post by saying THANK YOU! In a single week we almost managed to get 50% of the way towards our launch targets! And with about a month and a half to go things are looking really nice. So take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back because it’s you guys who made it possible. Here’s a wip gif from the Campaign and Loadout screen that I’ve been working on (6 mb, might take a few seconds to load). You deserve it.

Now, let’s look at our KPI’s.

Week in review: Results

Last week we were sitting at 189 wishlists. Using the formulas discussed, at that point in time, we were looking at 567$ in revenue on launch with about 100 copies sold. We went further and estimated that we would be increasing at wishlist count by 4 wishlists / day leading to a total of 446 wishlists and assumed we will bank about 1338$ on release while selling 223 units.

So what’s body count at now? Well:

  • Wishlists: 489
  • Estimated week 1 net revenue: 1467$
  • Estimated copies to be sold: 244
  • Estimated year 1 net revenue: 7335$

Safe to say we’ve blown pass our estimated target for launch in the worst case scenario! This past week in review looks like this:

On average, we increased our daily wishlist count by 50 wishlists leading to a total 300 wishlists in 6 days or, better said, a 158% increase in just 6 days. Can I cry now, because I feel like crying.

Let’s look over the data we have from Steam. We’re going to go into a bit more details like: Steam traffic, impressions, visits, CTR and conversion rates – with all the data being supplied by the Steam Dashboard Itself.

First off, this is how Steam itself helped us this week. The following screenshot is from the dashboard and shows the amount of Impressions and Visits our steam store page got from Steam. CTR is the conversion rate between how many times our game capsule (little image with the game’s name) was displayed on the store and how many people clicked it to get to the game’s page (where they can wishlist it):

Our game capsule was displayed 15,386 times on the store page (note that this doesn’t mean that people actually saw it. It counts the number of times it was loaded). People clicked it about 1,188 times to access the Space Mercs store page. That’s a 7.72% conversion rate.

Now, let’s look at the total amount of traffic we had in this period:

Woah! External traffic (brought in by our marketing efforts) accounts for almost twice as many visits to the game’s page. Our marketing efforts to steam’s promotion efforts is literary 1.8:1, aka almost double. So much for just release on steam and the store is going to promote you. Impressions in this case accounts for how many times the steam widget was displayed on an external website, while visits is how many people reached the game’s page in total. Our CTR is above the roof but mostly because we’ve directly linked people to the page.

So what can we learn from this? Well, steam has a lot more reach and visibility than anything I’ve done before but targeted traffic trumps it. With a only 7% conversion rate from the impressions steam gave the game I can only take a single conclusion: My capsule (image for the game) sucks really, really hard! I need to step up my steam capsule game a ton.

On the bright side, our marketing push for this week blew us past our worst case expectations and moved us into the “we might make it” territory. But this doesn’t mean we have to stop here. Let’s go into even more detail by looking at all the traffic combined and spit our our visits to wishlist conversion rate:

In total we received about 3,454 visits to the game’s page this week with 300 people adding the game to their wishlist. This gives us a 3,435/300 aka 11.5 visit to wishlist conversion rate. Out of 10 people visiting the game’s store page, 1 will wishlist it. How many wishlists we got from steam vs from direct traffic we will never know, but it’s safe to say that we’re performing better than I initially expected! Now let’s look at who the people who wishlisted our game are or, at the very least, what operating system they are using.

Ogh this is a sight to see for me! Linux is leading the known platform-specific wishlist race with 147 additions. Aka a 1.6:1 ratio Linux-to-Windows. The nerd inside of me is extremely happy because, even if the data will change as we near release, it shows that there’s a market out there. For small indies, like me, looking for low-volume sales Linux is a boon that they should not overlook.

If you’re an indie dev looking at this and thinking “agh cool, yeah I’ll target Linux” listen closely to the following: Test your Linux build, at the very least every week. Test the linux build after every middleware your integrate. Make sure it runs well on Linux and do not skip your QA process. If you’re using Unity, Linux is a one-click export but that’s only if you’re just using Unity and nothing else. A ton of developers wait till the very last moment to do a linux build and discover too late that they can’t do it, or it doesn’t work. I’ll go into more details about this process in the future.

Results Recap – and how we managed to achieve them

In the period between June 10th and June 16th we:

  • Increased our wishlist count by 158%
    • 300 new wishlists
  • Manage to direct 3434 people to our store page
    • 1188 visits being from steam
    • 2246 from our direct marketing efforts
  • Achieved a wishlist to visit conversion rate of 11.5%

It’s been an amazing week for us and it went better than expected! We achieved the results above from (but not limited to) the following sources:

  • An amazing article from the beloved Gaming on Linux website! They covered our new trailer, screenshots and improvements from the public demo – viewed more than 7000 times. As always, lots of love towards Liam and the Gaming on Linux staff – they do amazing work promoting Linux games! You can read the article here.
  • An article from Hardcore Gamer, by James Cunningham, that covers the same topic as GoL! No views data available but it certainly had an impact! Thank you James, I mean it. Article here.
  • Linux Game Consortium who covered the launch date, trailer on both LGC and Linux Game News! Thanks a ton – you have been added to my press list!
  • A /r/linux_gaming post that leads to the GoL article which got more than 160 upvotes!
  • Our new youtube trailer which is sitting at about 859 views! View it here.
  • A viral imgur post we made on monday that brought in about 85 wishlists.
  • Some of my twitter tweets linking to the store page that got a couple thousand impressions and a few tens of link clicks. Not much but they count! Example 1, example 2, example 3.

Going forward – goals, marketing efforts, Beta 6

This week has come and gone very fast. I haven’t managed to get Beta 6 out to my discord community yet! I’ve finished integrating the new cockpit into the game and empowered it with a ton of features – from bullet tracking, to a targeting system and more. We’re also overhauling the game’s UI from a screen overlay to being built into the actual space ship! Right now I’m trying to finish the Loadout screen so I can call the game campaign feature complete before I move onto finishing the content (missions, weapons, ship upgrades).

In terms of wishlist expectations we’re still targeting at least 1000 wishlists before launch. We’re 48.9% of the way there but that’s the minimum amount required for the game’s launch to have any chance of allowing me to make another game this year. It’s either that or I have to get another job doing Free2Play stuff while using evil, anti consumer, tactics!

We’re going to stick to our worst case scenario expectations of about 4 wishlists per day and hope we will never drop that low. At the current rate we are going at we need about 13 wishlists / day leading up to the launch on July 31st in order to achieve our target. Going by our worst case expectations of 4 wishlists / day, we’re looking at 641 wishlists on launch.

You can help us out in quite a few ways:

  • The easiest way is to go to our store page and wishlist the game, so you’ll be notified when it comes out.
  • Another way is to spread awareness of our marketing efforts, for two reasons:
    • First one is that it’s going to help other developers estimate their launch performances
      • Improve their marketing efforts
      • Adjust their expectations
    • Second one is that it’s also going to help boost the awareness of the game to people inside the industry. This doesn’t mean just game developers, but also editors and writers. They might not want to write about the game by itself but they might find an angle about Steam’s state and the game could get some more awareness because of that!
  • In order to help spread awareness about this you can link people to this blog post, the original one or the live data tracking document itself.
  • Third options to become our patrons. For as little as 1$ a month you can help us reach a steady revenue stream. We’re up to 50$ a month right now and, long term, it helps a ton.
  • Forth option is to follow me on twitter and re-tweet my stuff! It’s going to increase my reach and hopefully help get some more people to notice the game!

And with this we conclude this week’s marketing efforts and results! I really do hope next week’s post will be even bigger and more cheerful! I’m forever grateful to my lovely giants for helping me get here! I am extremely aware that, if it wasn’t for you guys, our worst case scenario would have become true!

THANK YOU,

Giants!

 

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Wishlists, Revenue and Launch estimates for Space Mercs – live data

Hello Analytical Giants!

Yesterday one of our Imgur posts went viral! It reached around 95,000 views and 1130 upvotes and was featured on imgur’s front page! A lot of people seemed to like the game’s concept and look and that gave me a huge moral boost. The situation, at the time of posting, looks like this:

Not bad but what does that mean for the game? Well, Jake Birkett from Grey Alien Games, know for his steam economics posts and Shadow Hand, published a recent article that takes a look at the conversion rates between Steam Wishlists and Week 1 sales. You can read the full post on his patreon, but here are the highlights:

  • Week 1 sales = Wishlists number X 0.5
  • Year 1 sales = Week 1 sales X 5
  • Factoring in steam’s cut and taxes, your total revenue in the first year will be Year 1 Sales X 0.6.

The article goes really in depth and offers a ton of examples of how this applies to the reality of being a game dev on steam, covering a small game (in terms of development time and investment), a medium sized one and a full size production. I really recommend you reading it (and supporting him on patreon – a really worthy investment), but let’s return to our current situation with Space Mercs!

Before the imgur post went viral Space Mercs was sitting in on 189 wishlists after about a week of being present on Steam. To put it into perspective, Ebony Spire, at launch, had about 200 wishlists. So we were already around the same numbers with about a month and a bit more to go before launch. Now let’s apply Jake’s numbers to our current situation:

  • Pre Imgur wishlists – 189
  • Week 1 unit sales: 189 X 0.5 = ~94 copies
  • Week 1 revenue = 94 X $10 = $940
  • Adjusted for tax and steam cut: 940 X 0.6 = $564
  • So 1 year revenue from the game should be around 2820$

Not bad but certainly not the best outcome. Now let’s factor in yesterday’s imgur post and see how the math has changed. Out of 95,000 views and 1100 upvotes the game received 85 more wishlists. This put’s it at roughly 274 wishlists. Applying the previous calculations we have:

  • 274 wishlists X 0.5 conversion rate = 135 units estimated to be sold during week 1
  • 135 copies X $10 = $1350 gross revenue in week 1
  • After steam’s cut and taxes I will be left with $810
  • Year 1 revenue = $4050.

With yesterday’s post our launch estimates have increased by almost 40%. Not bad at all but this estimates are based on the assumption that NOTHING will change wishlist wise and things stay as they are. Let’s go even further down the rabbit whole and make some assumptions and guesses.

Our worst day in terms of additions on steam was June 3rd where we only 6 added it to their wishlist. Assuming we’re going to hit even more rough patches let’s place our estimates that, at the worst of time, in the days leading to launch, we’re only going to get 4 wishlists. With 43 days remaining till launch that means we can expect a worst case scenario of 172 more wishlists putting Space Mercs at 446 wishlists on launch day. Let’s do the previous calculations again and see what we’re going to face when the game launches:

  • 446 X 0.5 = 223 units to be sold
  • 223 X $10 = 2230 week 1 gross revenue
  • $2230 X 0.6 = $1338 week 1 net revenue
  • $1338 X 5 = $6690 revenue in the first year!

The game’s development is spread out over 3 months and we’re currently right in the middle of development – and we’re looking at no delays yet! This means that, based on the current estimates, I’ll make roughly 557$ / month in the game’s first year – literary the average salary in my country. But if we are to do the same calculations based on time spent developing the game we would be left with $6690 (our yearly revenue) / 3 (months of development) = $2230 per month of development!

So things aren’t so grim as I was expecting (assuming our worst case scenario doesn’t end being much much worse) however I’m sure I can do better than this. And I want to document this launch and progress towards it so hopefully it might end up helping more indie developers! Jake’s post is an amazing resources that makes a difference between me biting the dust financially, having to get a job, and surviving to make another game so I plan to add to it!

I’ve made a google docs spreadsheet which can be viewed by anyone, it’s public data! I will adjust it as time goes on, update it with the number of wishlists and estimations! By the time we launch we can draw a pretty picture on how accurate the data was so other developers can plan accordingly.

You can view the document here. The “Estimates and Wishfull Thinking” tab contains the current data, by days since this post has gone up. Rows marked with green and a date after them reflect the wishlist data on steam on those dates. Those without a green background are estimated wishlists on that day. At the bottom of the document there are a few fields that display the target wishlists the game need before launch, the current wishlists, the current estimates and the number of wishlists that are missing. It looks like this:

As it stands now the Space Mercs steam page looks like this:

Which reflects the state of the game during the public beta/demo release. Since then the game went through a ton of changes and the current steam page doesn’t reflect the game’s state! For one, this is how the game looks like at the current time and date:

Quite a few things changed since the public demo and the current beta (6)! For one, there’s a new cockpit view and a 3D radar! The main ship has changed, graphics have been tweaked and things are, on average looking way better. So a Steam Page overhaul is a must. The current demo up on steam will also be taken down because it does not reflect the current state of the game.

I’m also missing a trailer which I hope to have finished before launch happens. This should increase the amount of wishlists and sales tremendously, I hope!

For now this is the reality of what I’m facing. You can help make it a bit better in a few ways:

  • Add Space Mercs to your Steam Wishlists and buy it when it comes out.
    • Adding the game to your wishlists can also help us moving the data analysis forward
  • Share the document above with other devs of interested people. They can use it for their own estimates and survival.
  • Become a patron of bearded giant games and get access to the current beta.
  • Follow me on twitter and tell me that everything will be alright!
  • Buy one of my games on BGG!
    • I keep 98% of the revenue this way!

Thank you GIANTS!

 

 

 

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January Studio Update – Income report

Hello Giants,

It’s a new year and with it comes my new transparency studio report on our earnings via the Bearded Giant Store, in-development projects and my open source tools/frameworks. I strongly believe in my Linux 1st Initiative and want more people to join in developing for Linux as a target platform. The best way I can raise awareness towards Linux as a viable platform is to publish my earnings in a monthly income report post and have said earnings, hopefully, grow as I release more games. My goal so far is to reach a steady 300$ / month of income from my web store before the year ends.

I get that for some people 300$ is nothing but do keep in mind that I have other income sources from freelancing to game design courses. I want to grow the Bearded Giant brand/business steadily over the next few years. With more games comes a bigger back-catalogue that will earn income passively and, in theory, each new released game should increase the monthly revenue. My hopes are that with each new income report the numbers get higher and higher and more people are attracted towards setting up their own long-term Linux centered side/main business.

Income Report!

I announced the Bearded Giant Store in December and thanks to Gaming on Linux and the r/linux_gaming subreddit the reception has blown my expectations in terms of sales. As such the turnover for December is way higher than what I expect the norm to be and is reflected in this month (January) sales.

The total amount of sales from December:

Ebony Spire Heresy:

  • Linux: 64 copies sold – 447$
  • Windows: 5 copies sold – 34,95$

Rogue Sweeper:

  • Linux: 26 copies sold – 36,14$
  • Windows: 7 copies sold – 9,73$

Total: 527$.

December was a great month for me that blew my expectations, however, it’s important to note that a huge chunk of the sales were from people who heard about the Linux 1st Initiative and wanted to support it. As such December will not contribute to my baseline towards the 300$/month target for 2019. For some more juicy December data check this out:

  • Visits to the Bearded Giant Store: 3.7K
  • Highest referral being GoL’s article with 893 visitors sent this way! (Thank you Liam and GoL’s staff! You are all amazing)
  • Number of requests to delete purchase data: 7 (check out my privacy policy for more details)
  • Most visits by country: US with 712 visits followed closely by Germany (347) and Romania (312)

Moving onto January things are a bit different and more in-line with my expectations for this month.

The total amount of sales from January:

Ebony Spire Heresy:

  • Linux: 6 copies sold – 41,94$
  • Windows: 2 copies sold – 13,98$

Rogue Sweeper:

  • Linux: 6 copies sold – 8,34$

Total: 64,26$

Like I previously stated there’s a huge discrepancy between December’s sales and January and that’s because of the amount of traffic sent my way from news coverage on the Linux 1st Initiative. However I’m not taking this as a bad thing since it’s pretty much in-line with my expectations! Let’s go over the other stats:

  • Visits to the Bearded Giant Store: 263
  • Highest referral being google with 43 unique visitors sent my way
  • Number of requests to delete purchase data: 0
  • Most visits by country: Romania with 97 visits followed by the US with 63 and UK with 27!

The total amount of revenue generated from the Bearded Giant Store so far:

Following up before the end of the month will be a blog post announcing the new game in development for Linux under the Bearded Giant Brand and a progress report on my new game development framework called Pint! If you want to get in contact with me you can do so via our DISCORD server or by sending me an e-mail at contact@beardedgiant.games! You can also follow me on twitter or stay up-to-date with Bearded Giant Games on Facebook!

Thank you Giants and have an amazing year!