Though Proun creator Joost van Dongen has made nearly $20,000 off of his artistic, indie racing title, overall he says he's been disappointed by the results of the game's "pay what you want" distribution model.
Though over 4,400 people paid an average of $5.23 each to buy the game, Van Dongen says over 47,000 people downloaded the game for free from his site, with an estimated 200,000 more downloading the game from torrents and other sources, according to a post on his development blog.
The prevalence of free players means the game has averaged just 9 cents of revenue per download, Van Dongen said, well below what he thinks a successful game with a traditional sales model would have made.
"If I would not have done the Pay What You Want model and would have done a fixed price on Steam instead, I think I may have made 5 to 10 times as much money," Van Dongen wrote, even after taking into account the reduced buzz and smaller player base that would likely come from removing the free version.
"I dare claim that for the amount of success Proun had, it made a very meagre amount of money," he wrote of the title, which he estimates took the equivalent of nine months of full time work to complete.
Van Dongen suspects that the free version may have been more successful because it didn't require users to go through the cumbersome process of entering credit card information.
Going forward, Van Dongen will be testing this hypothesis by setting a $1 minimum on the "pay what you want" download for the title, which currently brings in roughly $10 a day over three months after its release.
"I am glad that the unique and innovative graphical style of Proun really worked for a lot of people. ... However, purely financially, I think Proun could have made way more money if it had been sold in a different way," he wrote.