In an intriguing GDC Austin lecture, World Of Goo co-creator Ron Carmel from indie studio 2D Boy examined the world 'beyond the finish line', discussing what happens after your indie game is released and how to deal with it.
Carmel noted that the main thing about the 'finish line' of completing your independent game is that -- in fact -- there is not a finish line. But you need to prioritize very carefully to make sure your post-launch needs are met.
Some of these priorities are incredibly important, too. For example, post-launch promotions were directly responsible for around 1/3rd of 2D Boy's revenue on World Of Goo, according to Carmel.
In 2D Boy's case, a WiiWare email promotion from Nintendo sold 25,000 copies of the game, a Steam 75% off sale helped push 42,000 copies in one weekend, and the MacHeist 3 promotion helped sell 88,000 copies in 2 weeks. Many of these were at much lower sales prices, but it all adds up.
Looking at distribution strategies, Carmel said that, even with a clear concept, things didn't work out quite as expected. He noted that the Steam sale (75% off) had no effect on 2D Boy's website sales, even though the game was four times as expensive there.
So Carmel believes that individual sales channels (including Steam, WiiWare, your own website, Direct2Drive and so on) seem to run on largely non-intersecting sets of users. As for digital download portals, Carmel said that Steam, Direct2Drive, and Greenhouse were the best partners to work with on PC in terms of relationships.
The 2D Boy co-founder showed a chart with the total relative revenue for the game to date. According to this, in decreasing order, around 40% of 2D Boy's revenue is from WiiWare in North America, around 20-25% PC/Mac/Linux sales from 2DBoy.com, 15% of PC sales from Steam, 12% sales from WiiWare in Europe -- and then smaller amounts from there.
On the pricing issue, Carmel pointed out that the game is $20 on 2D Boy's site and Steam, $15 on WiiWare, and even $7 on casual site Big Fish Games. As it turns out nobody really cares about these variations. But the online community did care about regional variations - with the game being $20 on Steam in the U.S. and 20 Euros on Steam in Europe.
Standing post-release commitments were something that 2D Boy "really buried themselves" in. Some of the things 2D Boy had to do after launch include Mac/Linux ports, a profanity pack, and a European launch with a 6th bonus chapter, as well as a demo. He suggested "this stuff did come back to bite you", and that you should think carefully about what you promise you'll do 'after the game is done'.
Interestingly, 2D Boy originally decided not to do a demo for World Of Goo on PC, after seeing an EEDAR graph that suggested that PS3 and Xbox 360 retail games without demos did better than games with a demo. But the game didn't take off as much until after the PC demo was released, leading to the conclusion that large console games without demos have different rules to PC indie titles with regard to demos.