Indie Game Metrics - October 2009 Update

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The metrics section of my talk from the Digital Distribution Summit in Melbourne, Australia, October 2009. This updates my GDC 2009 talk, with new estimates and comments. (A video of my extended talk is at http://www.ddsummit.com )

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Indie Game Metrics - October 2009 Update

  1. 1. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 Simon Carless [Independent Games Festival/Summit Chairman, Game Developer magazine/Gamasutra publisher.] Digital Distribution Summit, Melbourne [NOTE: This is the metrics section of a larger speech I gave in Australia in October 2009. See my GDC China slides - also hosted on slideshare.net/simoniker for the remainder.] *’Rules’ not actually rules, subject to change.
  2. 2. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 <ul><li>What are your market’s sales trends? (Note: 30%-50% revenue to most aggregator/distributors.) </li></ul>
  3. 3. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 Market Analysis: PlayStation Network <ul><li>- PlayStation 3 has sold 24.6 million worldwide (August 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>- 27 million PSN members (as of August 2009) on PS3, PSP, and PlayStation.com member accounts. </li></ul><ul><li>- Since Nov. 2006, 105+ downloadable PS3 games on U.S. Store, </li></ul>
  4. 4. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 Market Analysis: PlayStation Network <ul><li>- Flow sold 120,000 copies worldwide between February and September 2007 (cited by Sony in Game Informer.) </li></ul><ul><li>- Shatter sold 30,000 copies in first week+ in August 2009, 47,000 on Leaderboards by early September. </li></ul><ul><li>- Burnout Paradise (not indie and $30 at the time, but still PSN) sold 20,000 units in first 3 weeks after Sept. 2008 launch. </li></ul><ul><li>- Noby Noby Boy sold ‘ about’ 100,000 from Feb. to August 2009. </li></ul><ul><li>- Battlefield 1943 sold 600,000 copies across XBLA and PSN in first 2 weeks in August 2009 (est. 250,000 PSN). </li></ul><ul><li>- Burn Zombie Burn sold 70,000 copies from March to August 2009 . </li></ul><ul><li>- Astro Tripper - approx. 15,000 on Leaderboards from December 2008 to April 2009, inching up since then. </li></ul><ul><li>- Super Stardust has 331,700 on Leaderboards for Arcade mode. </li></ul><ul><li>- PSN talking points: ‘first party’ indies; rise of ‘true’ third parties; demo/payment integration issues; regional submission issues, lack of competition? </li></ul>
  5. 5. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 Worldwide Sales Estimates: PlayStation Network <ul><li>*Massive disclaimers apply - Sept. 2009 update. </li></ul><ul><li>LOW-END: 10-35,000 units , if your game doesn't strike a chord with the public or is poorly marketed. (40% of games) </li></ul><ul><li>MID-END: 35-75,000 units , if you get some Sony marketing support (e.g. via PlayStation Blog) or good developer PR.) (40% of games) </li></ul><ul><li>HIGH-END: 75,000-300,000 units, if you have critical mass behind you, mass Sony support, and... a great game! (20% of games) </li></ul>
  6. 6. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 Market Analysis: Xbox Live Arcade <ul><li>- Xbox 360 has sold 31 million worldwide (August 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>- Xbox Live has 20 million users (August 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>- Since Nov. 2004, 248 downloadable XBLA games on U.S. Store, </li></ul>
  7. 7. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 Market Analysis: Xbox Live Arcade <ul><li>Trials HD sold 300,000 from mid-August to mid-September 2009 . </li></ul><ul><li>Battlefield 1943 sold 600,000 copies across XBLA and PSN in first 2 weeks in August 2009 (est. 350,000 XBLA). </li></ul><ul><li>Sales _generally_ 80-90% of leaderboard numbers . </li></ul><ul><li>Leaderboard numbers as of mid-Sept 2009: High end: Shadow Complex: 290,000 ; Trials HD - 357,000 ; Castle Crashers: 1.26 million; Splosion Man - 160,000 </li></ul><ul><li>Mid: Defense Grid; 52,000 ; Worms 2; 52,000 </li></ul><ul><li>Low: Lode Runner HD; 19,000; Invincible Tiger: 3,800; Penny Arcade Adventures Ep.2: 23,300. </li></ul><ul><li>VGChartz/Fade LLC (fairly) accurate here. </li></ul><ul><li>XBLA talking points: Microsoft’s changing whims, high barrier to entry, increased competition, unified submissions, good demo structure, new quality ratings, Summer Of Arcade, Xbox Live Indie Games? </li></ul>
  8. 8. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 Worldwide Sales Estimates: Xbox Live Arcade <ul><li>*Massive disclaimers apply, note long LTD/pricing issues. </li></ul><ul><li>LOW-END: 10-50,000 units , if your game doesn't strike a chord with the public or is poorly marketed. (40% of games) </li></ul><ul><li>MID-END: 50-100,000 units , if you get good developer PR and produce an effective demo. (40% of games) </li></ul><ul><li>HIGH-END: 150,000-500,000 units, if you have true critical mass behind you and a... great game! ( 20% of games ) </li></ul>
  9. 9. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 Market Analysis: WiiWare <ul><li>- Wii has sold 52.62 million worldwide (June 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>- Since May 2008, 126 downloadable WiiWare games on U.S. Store, </li></ul><ul><li>- Also notable: over 310 Virtual Console games on U.S. store (competition). </li></ul>
  10. 10. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 Market Analysis: WiiWare <ul><li>-.No public WiiWare download numbers, EVER . (Why?) </li></ul><ul><li>- My estimates: big hits like World Of Goo = 300,000+ (Top 5 all-time) </li></ul><ul><li>- Anecdotal: some well-known, well-executed ‘core’ titles have only done 20-30,000 (mid-range). </li></ul><ul><li>- Very few titles didn’t make minimum payment rate in U.S., other territories. (<6,000 U.S.). </li></ul><ul><li>- VGChartz/Fade LLC charts better on high end, orders of magnitude off on low end (estimated dropoff issues). </li></ul><ul><li>- Some Fade numbers: My Aquarium = 490,000 (20% too high?); Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament = 88,000 (100s of % too high?) </li></ul><ul><li>- WiiWare talking points: payment, demo & storage issues, ease of approval (except physical office), game quality variability, Virtual Console competition, danger in lack of data. </li></ul>
  11. 11. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 Worldwide Sales Estimates: WiiWare <ul><li>*Massive disclaimers apply </li></ul><ul><li>LOW-END: 5-20,000 units, if your game doesn't strike a chord with the public or is poorly marketed. (60% of games) </li></ul><ul><li>MID-END: 25-40,000 units , if you have a good fit for the Wii audience or good developer PR. (30% of games) </li></ul><ul><li>HIGH-END: 50,000-350,000 units , if you have a title that fits Wii gamers great, good use of hardware, a familiar concept, and... a great game! (10% of games) </li></ul>
  12. 12. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 Market Analysis: iPhone <ul><li>- Installed base of iPhone = >25 million est. , iPod Touch = 20 million (Sept 2009) = >45 million total. </li></ul><ul><li>- Over 85,000 apps/games in App Store across all categories, 2 billion downloads as of Sept. 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>- > 16,000 of these are games! That's an average of >35 per day since launch (and rapidly increasing). </li></ul>
  13. 13. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 Market Analysis: iPhone/iPod Touch <ul><li>- Super Monkey Ball sold 500,000 units as of November 2008 at as high as $9.99 (!!) - MAJOR EXCEPTION. </li></ul><ul><li>- iShoot was #1 in the App Store in January 2009 with 17,000 downloads at $2.99 each - in one day - $35,700 to developer . </li></ul><ul><li>- Creator of Blocked was selling 5-15 units per day until he price dropped to $0.99, hit #1 and sold 10-15,000 units per day (March 2009 interview) </li></ul><ul><li>- Firemint’s Flight Control - over 1.5 million units (at $0.99) from March to October 2009. </li></ul><ul><li>- Anecdotal: 20,000-25,000 (with high exceptions)#1, ‘mid thousands’ for top 10, top 100 is ‘mid-high hundreds’ for that day. </li></ul><ul><li>- iPhone talking points: gold rush (gold rush, gold rush!), watch success curve, Apple relationship, surprising revenue charts, Top 100 is (almost) everything, portfolios/cross-promotion vital. </li></ul><ul><li>- SIDENOTE: My thoughts on Sony’s PSPGo, Nintendo DSi. (iPhone conversions possible, high barrier to entry, but market size + retail competition questions.) </li></ul>
  14. 14. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 Market Analysis: iPhone/iPod Touch <ul><li>*Massive disclaimers apply, there may be outliers, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>LOW-END: 100-1,500 units , if your game doesn't break out of the morass. (85% of games) </li></ul><ul><li>MID-END: 1,500-5,000 units , if you have some marginal success, perhaps sneak into the Top 100. (10% of games) </li></ul><ul><li>HIGH-END: 5 ,000-1,500,000+ units , if you can break into the top of the charts and sustain interest (5% of games) . </li></ul>
  15. 15. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 Market Analysis: PC/Web Games <ul><li>The PC/web Game market is gigantic ( 1 billion PCs worldwide as of March 2008 - Gartner), but let’s split it into: </li></ul><ul><li>Single-player PC downloadable (+retail) indie games. </li></ul><ul><li>Single-player Flash/web browser games. </li></ul><ul><li>Multiplayer microtransaction/mini-subscription funded web browser games, including social network games. </li></ul>
  16. 16. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 Market Analysis: PC Downloadable Games <ul><li>- Selling directly on your own website and via Steam and other download sites (Direct2Drive, Greenhouse, Gamersgate) can be a great way to power your game. </li></ul><ul><li>- Public examples of non-affiliate sales numbers: Geneforge 4 (Mac/PC , released 2006-2007) sold 4,000 copies at $28 to March 2009. </li></ul><ul><li>- Cliffski made $189,000 from direct sales in 2008 for all his games (10,000 downloads). </li></ul><ul><li>- IGF finalists with some buzz but not masses of advertising (and no affiliate deals) have sold 5,000 copies directly at $20 each . </li></ul><ul><li>- Low-end sales: 100-1,000 copies; Mid-end sales: 1,000-5,000 copies; High-end sales; 5,000-50,000 copies. </li></ul>
  17. 17. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 Market Analysis: PC Single-Player Web Browser Games <ul><li>- Massive potential here, but LOTS of free Flash games out there. </li></ul><ul><li>- For non-multiplayer Flash games, you can make money via these methods: </li></ul><ul><li>- ‘Exclusive licensing’ from free web game portals (high hundreds to low thousands per license, sometimes a lot more - FlashGameLicense.com). </li></ul><ul><li>- CPM deals from ads attached to games or shown elsewhere on the page. (not gigantic at regular CPM rates, might add up) </li></ul><ul><li>- Microtransactions - THE big area of potential growth (Daniel Cook/Bunni, Fantastic Contraption). </li></ul><ul><li>- Just possible to make living from juggling licensing deals and ads + other revenue. LOT of competition. </li></ul>
  18. 18. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: The Metrics, Oct. 2009 Market Analysis: PC Online Games <ul><li>LOTS of opportunity here for online-connected games in pursuing item sales, micro-subscription models, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Free to play multiplayer online titles in general - don’t be afraid (Puzzle Pirates! Domain Of Heroes.) </li></ul><ul><li>Selling in-game upgrade and items to a different style of indie game community (Toribash). </li></ul><ul><li>- Selling access to a still in-development multiplayer game (Cortex Command) </li></ul><ul><li>Charging for the second episode/expansion of an otherwise completely free-to-play online game (ForumWarz) </li></ul><ul><li>Social network games use unique mechanics to spread games among friends lists, (Pet Society, etc). </li></ul><ul><li>Independents can flourish in this space, but tricky to get started (No aggregators to help -- virality is key!) </li></ul>
  19. 19. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: PC Trends: <ul><ul><li>Major trends to watch out for in the PC space: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rise of smaller-team PC games - retail /publisher slowdown, growth of digital (Steam) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of pre-orders to fund full game development (Cortex Command) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Growth of influential, ‘trendy’ indie game-friendly press (RockPaperShotgun, Offworld). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Acceptance of ‘play’-based games with a less clear goal (Blueberry Garden, Line Rider) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PC online teams breaking Flash, online microtransaction cultural taboos (Puzzle Pirates) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IMPORTANT: rapid prototyping allows freeware PC hits to become full games (Crayon Physics, Audiosurf) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Understanding of ‘virality’ as game design key leads to Facebook game growth (FarmTown, others.) </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. ‘ Rules’ For Indie Game Success: Console/Handheld Trends <ul><ul><li>Major trends to watch out for in this space: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Innovative small-team titles can beat more ‘calculated’ games on XBLA, PSN, WiiWare. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Risk/reward per system proportional to a) entry barriers b) natural ‘connectedness’ of console </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Median revenue for published titles: XBLA > PSN > WiiWare > PSP Minis > DSiWare > iPhone > Xbox Live Indie Games </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BUT revenue curve massively different for each. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>iPhone is gigantic, messy ‘gold rush’. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Biggest console (XBLA, PSN, WiiWare) mistake: team overstaffing (3-5 people, not 10-15!) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bet-hedging across console and PC SKUs ideal. </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Questions? <ul><ul><li>Contact: scarless @think-services.com </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>http://www. slideshare .net/ simoniker </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(for GDC talk slides, 2D Boy/Wolfire presentations.) </li></ul></ul>

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