Let's start with sales numbers. We went on sale January 19th. As of this writing, we've been on sale for about two and a half months. All dollar values are in USD.
*This does NOT represent a profit of 46.7K. Altogether, we put in several thousand hours of labor that still needs compensating.
We sold the game on www.defendersquest.com by partnering with FastSpring, a popular online payment provider, which takes 8 percent of our gross revenues. At first, everyone who played the demo on any Flash portal was directed to our website to buy the full game.
On February 7th, we started letting players on the portal Kongregate buy the full game with "kreds," the site's virtual currency. Even though Kongregate takes 30 percent of kred revenue, we decided to try it because the system was easier for players, which would hopefully lead to more overall sales.
We started with the special introductory price of $6.99 on our site, and 50 "kreds" (about $5) on Kongregate.
Why two different prices?
1. The Kongregate version is online-only, and has compressed graphics/audio. The download version has a few extra features, can be played anywhere, and has higher-quality assets.
2. 50 kreds is a better impulse purchase price than 70, since the smallest amount of kreds players can buy is 50.
Though the game is a complete, finished experience, we plan to add more content later in an upcoming Gold edition release. With the bonus material included, the final price for Gold edition will be $9.99. Everyone who has already bought the game will receive free upgrades for the additional content.
Next, let's look at a chart of our sales over time:
Blue represents gross revenue from our own site, and red is gross revenue from kreds purchases. I've also marked various points on the graph with the following press and other events:
Mentions in the gaming press (Rock, Paper, Shotgun, in particular) correlate to single-day sales spikes. The largest spikes, however, as well as sustained sales over time, correlate with launching on the major Flash game portals (particularly Kongregate and Newgrounds). So the question is, which made a bigger difference: Flash portals or good press? For further analysis, we turned to our coupon data.
We made several different coupon codes available, as one of our many metrics for tracking sales and virality. We gave people who had signed up for our newsletter prior to release a special coupon for $2 off. We gave reviewers coupon codes named after their sites, which were good for $1 off. Our first batch of coupons was good through the end of January, but we later added some that were good through February 14th, specifically the Kongregate and Newgrounds coupons.
Here's a chart of sales by coupon:
You'll also see some other coupons on the chart. I gave the coupon code "ZEBOYD" to fellow indie RPG developer Robert Boyd, who sent it out to his followers over Twitter and posted it on various forums around the internet. The "MONA" code was posted by our lawyer, Mona Ibrahim, and I posted another in my previous Gamasutra blog post about our launch.) The "SPECIAL" code was the $2 coupon from our newsletter.
When we released on Newgrounds and Kongregate, we were not sure if a demo with an up-sell would anger players, since those sites are free-to-play portals. Anticipating the worst reaction, we gave players on each site a $2 off coupon towards the game. After about a week on Kongregate, we replaced the link to our store with a link to buy the game for 50 kreds.
Coupon codes correlate fairly strongly to sales sources, but they're not exact. For instance, many people from a referring site will not use the provided coupon. Coupons have a tendency to leak throughout the internet, so obviously people outside the original target group end up using them. Also, if the coupons differ in value, word eventually gets out and people start using the higher-value coupon more. In the above example, the newsletter coupon (SPECIAL), was worth $2 off and only advertised in our newsletter. Many newsletter subscribers bought the game at full price anyway, and a lot of people who used this coupon were not on the newsletter.
Finally, all the coupons eventually expired, so sales from these sources after the expiration dates aren't reflected in this chart.
But even with these caveats, I think it is fair to say that these sites were among our highest sources of revenue so far:
Based on coupon redemptions alone, the two flash portals, Kongregate and Newgrounds, represent over 75 percent of sales.
Given that this chart only represents sales made with a coupon from our FastSpring store, and leaves out kreds sales altogether, the real number for Kongregate is surely signficantly higher.
For now, we are only selling on our site with FastSpring and on Kongregate through kreds. We plan to expand onto other portals soon (Desura/Impulse/etc.), and of course, if Steam or the Humble Indie Bundle come calling, we'll topple off our seats.
But here are some things we did to increase sales.