My first game was released on Steam one year ago. My Thoughts and how much money I made.
Exactly one year ago today, I published my first game Haustoria on Steam. In this blog, I'd like to share some of my thoughts on the whole process in addition to the good, the bad and the ugly.
I'll start with the ugly... The game was not a success. Well, I should say it was not a financial success. It was a huge failure. And if I'm honest with myself, I was fairly depressed because of that. I made goals, computed targets, planned milestones and everything. I come from an accounting background so I was confident in my budgeting and predicting abilities. I sketched out the worst case scenario. And you know what, reality was worse than that. Way worse.
Did I make a profit? No.
Did I break even? No.
Did I come close to breaking even? No.
Okay okay well, what did I make?
Steams' 30% cut
To rub salt in the wound, Steam doesn't even pay out anything unless you make a minimum of $100 AFTER their cut, meaning you need at least $143 in sales to get anything (they take 30%). To be clear, I'm not upset that they take 30% (they are free to do whatever they want), I'm upset with my own performance. I mean, $143 isn't even that much. It should be easy. That's what I thought at least.
The problem (I believe) is that I put too much faith in Facebooks' advertisements. I thought that as long as I put money in ads everything would work out. Just based on simple math and probability, I figured, a certain percentage of people would see the ad. Of those people, a certain percentage would click on the ad. And of those people a certain percentage of people would buy the game. Simple right?
2% would see it x 5% would buy it = 0.1% of people who see the ad would make a purchase.
So if I got ads that got me 100,000 reach, that's 100,000 x 0.01% = 100 unit sales.
From there it's a matter of the games unit price and ad cost.
In theory, yes this works. In reality however, if your game sucks no one will buy it. So perhaps the real problem, therefor, is that my game sucked (haha).
The Good (The Beginning)
I began this project with no real goal in mind. I just wanted to make something with a unique art style. In fact, I was inspired by this video's cute art style, which tells the story of how Gokabou was created, a special treat found in Kumagaya Japan.
Even though I didn't reach my financial goals, I did enjoy making the game. I was able to put a lot of quirky things in that you would never see in a AAA title. The process of putting the game on Steam was a big hassle, but a great learning experience. It took me about 2 years of development (also working a full time job) to create the game, and I certainly learned a lot of programming and Unity techniques. I can confidently say I'm a better game designer coming out of this experience.
Speaking of experience, I also ended up hiring quite a few people on Fivver to test play my game and design the cover image. Working with strangers and giving them instructions on what to do was a valuable experience in and of itself. Plus, it gave me a sense that I was an actual game developer running my own studio. That's pretty cool. Indeed, hiring test players was a great decision. They will tell you about bugs you would've never found by yourself. And the value of an honest review of the game is huge (as opposed to a friend who would be afraid to tell you their true thoughts).
I'm still developing
Perhaps the best thing I found out, is that I truly love game design. The fact that I spent so much time, money and effort into something that failed, yet I'm still developing games tells me that I really love and have a passion for it! ...or maybe I'm just insane.
If you are interested on what else I'm working on, check out my Facebook page!
If you are developing games and are thinking about selling, whether that be on Steam or some other platform, I would say go for it! But if it's your first game, don't make any financial goals. Sure, it's great if you end up making money, but you should only do it for the experience and enjoyment of the creative process.