We released our first PSP Mini, Arcade Darts in July 2010 – which was good timing to cover cash-flow shortfalls from our WiiWare development (a full summary of which can be found here).
In contrast to WiiWare, the PSP Minis program was a joy to work with. Sony promotes the service well (it was a front-page PSN link for several months), you can update your product at will (although each update requires a fresh QA submission), reduce the price permanently or in timed sales promotions and best of all – you get nice regular cash-flow saving monthly payments.
Sony were very approachable and very developer friendly (are you reading this Nintendo?!) with us, and with other developers I spoke to. Hell – they even loaned us the PSP dev-kits!
I had heard a number of horror stories about the low sales numbers for Minis before we started, but we were pleasantly surprised. Certainly compared to the bigger console digital download formats such as XBLA and PS3 PSN and high selling iOS Apps, the numbers are quite low – but we found them to be fairly consistent and enough to cover the PSP specific dev-costs plus a little profit.
The sales split seems to be the opposite of WiiWare; whereby on Minis we found the PAL sales to be far higher than the NTSC sales. Roughly speaking the split is 2:1 in favour of PAL sales. There also seemed to be a marked difference in approach and enthusiasm for the Minis program between SCEE and SCEA, with SCEE very positive and pro-active with Minis and SCEA much less so.
Another key point is that you are paid monthly by SCEE, but quarterly plus 45 days by SCEA; and they are often later than that! Although rather disappointingly this all fell apart after the PSN hacking downtime and at the time of writing is still a long way off returning to normal – which has been very hard on our finances.
Our biggest seller is Arcade Darts, so far selling over 11,000 PAL units and 2,500+ NTSC units. This far exceeded our expectations (we actually only expected to make around 2,500 sales!).
Our next Mini, Arcade Air Hockey & Bowling was released in September 2010 and has so far sold over 8,000 PAL units. This was also our biggest US hit on Minis with sales totals so far at 6,500 units.
Next up we released two titles in January 2011; Family Games and Soccer Bashi. As with WiiWare, Bashi has been a total failure; so far selling only 420 PAL units and 600 NTSC units – the losses we’ve made with this are frightening. Moral of the story I think is don’t do a retro block breaker unless you really revolutionise the genre or make it really cheap!
Family Games has fared a little better at 3,000+ PAL sales, and 1,500 NTSC sales.
Again the PSN downtime really hammered sales here, although even before that it seemed like Minis sales numbers were tailing off compared to 2010.
Taken as a whole Minis development has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience and a real panacea to the pain of WiiWare. We’ve had lots of really nice reviews, met a fair few members of the Minis community on PSPMinis.com and actually got money for sales in a timely fashion without the hell of Sales Thresholds.
Sony has been great to work with – I really can’t overstate that enough. From a developer perspective, especially compared to Nintendo and Microsoft, Sony has been there nearly every step of the way and I am confident they will pick-up after recent hiccups.
We have just released our fifth Mini, Arcade Pool & Snooker and are currently working on two further Minis for release later in 2011. So our Minis Adventure looks set to continue well into the future…