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Anodyne: A Pirate Bay Promo Postmortem
by Sean Hogan on 02/21/13 12:00:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

pircy

Hi, I'm Sean Hogan, programmer/composer/designer of Anodyne, an adventure game my friend Jon and I released on February 4th. During post-release, one of the things we did was get the chance to promote Anodyne on the front page of The Pirate Bay.

So, without further ado...

Time to answer the question: "Was that Pirate Bay Promo useful at all?"

The promo was a big picture of Anodyne on thepiratebay.se 's front page linking to www.anodynegame.com/tpb.html .

So was it useful? Or did no one pay for it, and now we have devalued our game completely?

First, it cost $7 to do the promo, all $7 of which were for paying our hosting provider for bandwidth, Nearlyfreespeech.net. There were no other immediate financial costs.


As intuition might say, yes, doing the promo was worth it. The promo far exceeded sales from the past 10 days of reviews/videos, and traffic was at an all-time high. 

This post is concerning only the 72 hour period between 5 AM CST 2/15 and 5AM CST2/18 , the time of the pirate bay promotion (and our almost-PWYW sale). Note that the soundtrack bundle did not go live until 11 AM 2/16, CST.


GREENLIGHT

We are much better off on Greenlight (of course, we'd still love if you voted for us :) ). It would be cool if Valve accepts Anodyne due to the rising vote count (a-la-McPixel), but if not we will be waiting around for a bit till we get into the top 10 - if ever (oh my!).

  • 28k -> 41k unique views
  • 90% to top 100 -> 59th place on greenlight
  • More favorites/comments (in correlation with views)

SALES 

During the sale, we still sold through Fastspring, Desura, and Gamersgate. We also accepted donations through Dwolla and via bitcoin. The majority of sales were through the Humble Store which was the most prominently advertised.

Desura and Gamersgate remained at $10 for the weekend, while Fastspring remained at $1 min. for the game, Humble Store was $1 min for game, $1.50 min for game + Official Soundtrack (OST). I also sold my soundtrack at a minimum of $0.50 (or free) throughout the weekend through my bandcamp.

Quick stats

  • HUMBLE STORE: 4511 "only game" sold (av. price $1.74), 1750 "bundle" sold (av. price $2.76). Total (after transactionfees, before cut taken out for Humble Store) - $7064.42 + $4439.56 = ~11,500.00.
  • FASTSPRING: ~450 copies sold. Average $1.25, total $576.90
  • DESURA/GAMERSGATE: ~30 copies. Probably almost $200 from those.
  • BITCOIN DONATIONS: 3 bitcoins, or ~$100.
  • DWOLLA: A whopping $0.00 .
  • BANDCAMP: I sold 100 copies of the soundtrack only (not including the ones sold through the bundle). There were about 430 downloads at a price of $0 from bandcamp. This came out to about $175.00 as the minimum price was $0.50 .


Out of the 4511 only-game purchases:

  • 3539 (78%) were $1 purchases (minimum)
  • 3681 (79%) were <= the average (1.74)
  • 967 (21%) were > the average (1.74)
  • 123 (3%) were >= the advertised retail price ($10)
  • Highest: $20 I believe.

Out of the 1750 bundle purchases:

  • 1136 (65%) were $1.50 purchases (minimum)
  • 1293 (74%) were <= the average (2.76)
  • 467 (23%) were > average
  • 45 (2.5%) were >= advertised retail ($12) - 2.5%
  • Highest was $30

TRAFFIC

  • 240,000 uniques (roughly) over the sale period. Concurrent visitors ranged from 300-700.
  • Unsurprisingly, thepiratebay.se was highest referrer, followed by Reddit.

PRESS

MISC

  • Within a few hours of the sale we front-paged Reddit. I was sleeping and woke up after an /r/gaming mod deleted the post. Thanks, /r/gaming mod. (Deleted likely for "enabling" piracy)
  • Traffic cost me about $7 in all. This is in part due to our webpage being really lightweight, and also due to Nearlyfreespeech being fuckin' awesome. I highly recommend them if you want cheap hosting.
  • THE REST OF THE PROMO COST NOTHING! ...only paid for bandwidth. Yep!
  • SOCIAL MEDIA - I think our facebook page gained 200-300 "likes", Twitter follow counts increased by hundreds (550/220/400 for me/anodyne/jon)
  • Release trailer has > 100k views now
  • Seeder count varied between 2k-3k according to The Pirate Bay.
  • Many many nice messages from fans enjoying the game!
  • Many many bug reports :) often of a few of the same bug


WHAT ABOUT LIFE BEFORE THE PROMO BAY?

Over the 10 days after release before the promo bay, I think we accumulated 40k uniques. This resulted in around 800-900 sales between all of our channels, at an average price of I think $8.

Over that time, we got a number of reviews and videos to drive traffic!

So, the promo bay far exceeded what our sales cycle would have been if we just went on as normal - sales were dying down around the start of the promo. We made twice as much revenue as we did in the past 10 days (plus the pre-orders), many more visitors, votes, etc - as mentioned earlier!

In summary...

Our take was about $12k for the promo, split between Jon and I evenly. A nice amount for the work we've put into Anodyne. We also have a lot more publicity and fans now (go look around Youtube! Many many Let's Plays). So things are looking up!

Without further ado, some graphs. Kind of what you might expect - sales highest during daytime for US/europe, sales die down over the promo. Gross refers to before we cut out 5% for the humble store creators, but after we take out transaction fees.

Does the promo work? Yes! I think everything is much better off now - revenue, people playing, fans, etc, than we were before the promo. I definitely encourage trying something similar with The Promo Bay if you're able to.

That's it! Any other questions? Post here or ask me on Twitter. cumu_salescumu_grossgrosssales


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Comments


Steven Christian
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Good news. I'm downloading the 'trial' version now. Will definitely donate if I like the game.
Plus lots of goodwill :)

Maria Jayne
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I love this, I read about it a couple of days ago and thought it was an excellent lesson to learn. Many people talk like they believe pirates, torrent downloaders and "customers" are mutually exclusive. This sort of result proves that is not true. You can make pirates into customers if they see your game is worth it and you can make customers into pirates if you keep selling them crap.

I think it's a scary concept for Triple A, because a significant portion of their revenue is convincing people they should buy a game they won't actually like. I feel there is plenty of evidence for this given how angry/disappointed many game owners get with some games after purchase.

Kelvin Bonilla
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I think it comes down to the fact that this is humane advertising.
You see a game product in the market, you pirate it. You think no harm is done. You don't see the consequence of your actions, you don't see the people you're letting down, you don't see who will not have enough money the next day for their daily bread. All you see is a game that you managed to get for free.

When people advertise, and show who they really are, you see something.
You see the person who's struggling to make something. You see a person with passion. You see a group of people who don't have much, and the little they have, they spend it to make something you can enjoy. You see this, and you feel nothing but respect. You appreciate their efforts. You have the game for free. You don't need to pay for it. You want to. You want to thank them for being there and doing what they do. You want to support them. You pay for the game anyways.

When we reach a point where the products we sell are genuinely an extention of ourselves, and not just a business model... We reach out to paying customers and pirates alike. We are all human, and humans have hearts.

Tyler Yohe
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Nice post Sean, thanks for sharing the numbers.

Looking forward to meeting up at GDC and chatting a bit about it in more detail!

Sean Hogan
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Yeah, I'm totally down for that! I'll be awkwardly floating around...

Dan Fabulich
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I'm unclear on the mechanics of how exactly this worked. Did you guys submit a doodle to http://thepiratebay.se/promo or did you submit a YouTube video to http://www.promobay.org/ ?

How long did it take for them to approve you? Once approved, how much control did you have over the timing of the sale? Did you just get an email saying "Your promo is up now; we'll take it down in a few days?"

Sean Hogan
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Check this for the details :

http://seagaia.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/piracy-and-anodyne/

quoted

"Game releases Feb 4th, get some nice press from wonderful journalists, we do some interviews with wonderful interviewers! Over the weekend, someone from France tells me they liked the game, and was sorry for cracking it – I say it’s okay, as I was sort of expecting someone to upload it on TPB at some point – he asks if he can upload it, I say “sure!”. It goes live, I wait a bit to see if it is getting torrented, then comment saying that I’m okay with it (for following reasons in this blog post, more or less). Then a mod takes it down by accident, TorrentFreak does an article, commenters convince me to upload it myself, so I do that. /r/piracy and /r/gaming talk about it, someone from TPB contacts me, and then history."

The details were I send a promo picture, and we got a 72 hour timeslot. I didn't have much control over the time other than "if you get us the graphic, it will happen starting friday", which we promptly did!


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