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The joy of indie life
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Poo Bear
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Pod Team


Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 4121
Location: Sheffield, UK



PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:37 am    Post subject: The joy of indie life Reply with quote

Threadspace: Hyperbol is a completely original and wonderful multiplayer action strategy game.

It's at the end of our "must have" indie game list:
http://www.moonpod.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=1409

It won strategy game of the year:
http://www.gametunnel.com/articles.php?id=660

I even reviewed it on gametunnel:
http://www.gametunnel.com/gamespace.php?id=246&tab=3

They were also picked up by Steam (more than we've managed).


Now, according to their latest blog entry the game hasn't made any money and they almost went bust (eek!). Luckily they picked up some contract work at the eleventh hour and managed to hang on. They're now working on game2 while using the contract work to stay fed. I hope they make it.

http://blogs.iocainestudios.com/?p=6

Go try the game, it's got a big learning curve, but it's worth it. There aren't many people playing, but there are regular games usually at weekends. Use the forums and work out when people are getting together.

http://www.hyperbol.com/Default2.aspx
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Rup



Joined: 19 May 2003
Posts: 363
Location: London, UK



PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Selling for $10+VAT on Steam, though, and published by Atari - I wonder how much of the $10 they actually see? Sounds like they have more people to feed than you do too.

On the other hand $10 is cheap enough for an impulse purchase I guess.
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Poo Bear
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Pod Team


Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 4121
Location: Sheffield, UK



PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe there are 4 of them, one of the other blog posts shows them sat around a member's family dining table which is cute. So, yes, they'll have to bring in twice as much money as us, although the US has a much cheaper cost of living than the UK Sad. Some states have lower taxes too, I can't believe 20% of our income has to go to the government before we even get started (that's income not profit).

$10 is a silly price for that game, it took 4 or 5 years to make and they run their own servers! I dread to think how much they actually make after steam has taken its costs and its cut. If I had to guess, it could be as low as $3 a game, hopefully higher though. Average wage in the UK is $32k a year. So that would be $130k for 4 people plus probably $25k taxes and maybe $20k running costs and equipment. So they'd need $175k a year just to eat Ramen and shop at Oxfam. I've no idea what cut they get, but if it was $3 a copy they'd need to sell 60k copies. If they were selling it from their own site for $25 (with ~$3 in ecommerce costs) they'd only need to sell 8k copies. It sounds like focusing on your own site is the way to go, but then you have the problem of raising traffic to your site which is incredibly difficult (usually needs advertising, regular game releases and good community content).

The idea of hiring slave labour, oops I mean, interns who then work on 3rd party contract projects with a little mentoring and guidance from the main team, while the main team work on a new game is a popular approach to survival.
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KingAl



Joined: 13 Aug 2007
Posts: 16



PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hasn't there been some kind of study indicating that prices below $15 generally don't increase sales? I guess PayPal and Steam together are making it much more of an impulse thing, but nevertheless...

Anyway, not much into multiplayer games myself, but I might have a look at Threadspace.
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Weeble
Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi


Joined: 25 Apr 2003
Posts: 1143
Location: Glasgow, Scotland



PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is just wild speculation, but I imagine part of the reason behind prices below $15 not increasing sales is that by the time they get that low they are very much secondary to the hassle of paying online and of downloading and installing some unknown piece of software. Indeed, making the game cheaper beyond that point might make it seem even less worth the hassle of going through all that to see if it's any good. Since with Steam you know what the whole buy/download/install process will be like, and that it's not hard, perhaps that encourages people to buy cheap games that they wouldn't have bothered with otherwise.

...Oops, after going and talking about how easy it is to buy games on Steam, I just went and bought Puzzle Quest. And I see that all I really wrote there was just "...making it much more of an impulse thing" in a whole lot more words. Ho hum, I'll post it anyway.
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Poo Bear
Pod Team
Pod Team


Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 4121
Location: Sheffield, UK



PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The sinister alternative thought is that closed markets like Steam, XBLA, PSN, etc exploit indie games as "loss leaders" to help grow their user base and hence the suits want the games to be dirt cheap. I've heard a lot of comments about people buying X360's mainly due to just 2 or 3 must have titles (halo3, mass effect, etc) but then supporting that purchase decision is the understanding that you'll have 100 free 60min demos to try and a good few $5/$10 throwaway purchases. It's interesting that you still don't get demos for a lot of the $60 games.

It makes sense, the operator gets a ton of games that "feel" like free content to the player, plus the operator doesn't have to waste too much money making sure they are high quality titles because there is an understanding that these are "cheap" alternative games that the operator has not invested in. Seems to work, Steam has 15million users, interesting that it isn't actually making threadspace decent money.
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