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I'm David S Gallant, a new game maker who has been at it since June of 2011. Anyone curious about my backstory can play it here. To date I have released six freeware games, and a single game for sale. I Get This Call Every Day was released on December 21st, 2012; as of this writing it has been on sale for precisely one week. It costs a minimum of $2, which means that it is technically being sold as a form of Pay-What-You-Want pricing. The game is currently available for sale exclusively from my website.
I had certain expectations starting out. I wasn't making a game with a broad appeal - I Get This Call Every Day is a short game with a deliberately bad aesthetic portraying a frustrating life experience. I expected it to have an audience of about a dozen, the majority of whom I assumed would be family and friends just looking to support me. My best expectation was to make $100 total.
To date, I have made $853.03.
By any professional standards, that's meager. Even considering the cost of my time, I've run a loss: I spent approximately 28 days working on the game (that's from mid-September until launch at two days a week), and if I estimate an 8-hour work day, it totals 224 hours. My hourly wage would thus be $3.81, and that is without any accounting for the time spent promoting the game and providing customer support. While $3.81/hr isn't an encouraging figure, I wasn't being paid for that time in the first place, so overall everything I've earned is a net gain.
I've prepared some comparison charts showing Net Sales and Total Number of Sales on an hourly basis for each day of the week. They may be confusing just to look at, but hovering over different data points will show you comparisons between each day's hourly data if any sales were made in that period. I launched the game at midnight EST on December 21st, but all my sales data is in PST. The blue spike near the right-hand side is the game's launch; the big orange spike in the middle coincided with the game being featured on Kotaku. I wasn't expecting that kind of coverage, and it certainly made a difference.
As you might be able to put together by looking at those charts, there are people paying well over $2 for I Get This Call Every Day. The current average price paid is $4.24 (that's out of 201 sales, in case you wanted to check the math). The majority of sales are still for the minimum price, but enough people are electing to pay more - one person even bought the game for $100. He followed up to reassure me the amount wasn't in error.
I elected to give the game a minimum price because I poured a lot of hard work into the game, and I recognized that my work had value. However, this experience has really proven to me that a game's "value" is as subjective as anything else. Allowing customers to determine the game's value for themselves has been the smartest decision I could have made.
It hasn't all been successes; I chose a startup company as a payment and fulfillment processor, and dealing with them resulted in major headaches. I won't name them; they were very easy to set up, and allowed me the flexibility of my intended payment model without any fuss. The problem came with order fulfillment - links would be sent to customers that were plain broken thanks to some issue with an Amazon server hand-off, or so I was told. Customer's download links expired in four hours, and they had no way to follow up with the provider - they could only follow up with me. I ended up following the advice of Sophie Houlden and created a separate, permanent download page for customers. Unfortunately Gmail would not play nice with automatic replies, so I was forced to manually send every customer this link in a nicely formatted email every time a sale was made. I've recently switched providers to a more established company, and we'll see if these problems go away.
I'm still at my call centre day job. I'm not making the kind of money that will allow me to leave it, and with a game like I Get This Call Every Day I would never expect that kind of income. However, my world is changed. I can not stop making games; I will not stop releasing games; and I will keep trying new things when it comes to selling games.
Questions? Comments? Let me know on Twitter.