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Beat Hazard Grosses $2 Million - A Sales Comparison
by Steve Hunt on 11/26/12 06:02:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Introduction
My little Indie game has grossed $2,000,000! I’m completely blown away! Thank you so much to all those players out there that bought the game!.

Where did all that money come from? Read on, I’ll show you.

Why?
I recently did an ‘Ask Me Anything’ on Reddit (You can read it here) and the most asked question from budding Indie Devs was, ‘How much money have you made?’. I remember having difficulty finding sales data for Indie games when I started out, so I thought I’d share mine now.

Some Background
For those that aren’t familiar with Beat Hazard, it a music driven twin stick shooter. It takes tracks from your music collection and uses the power of that music to drive game play. It looks a something like this:

If you’re thinking, ‘Wow, I need that game now!’ you can pick it up here.

I’m a 1 man indie developer. I was made redundant a few years ago after 15 years working for main stream studios. At that point I wanted to give indie development a go. So far it’s gone amazingly well!

Beat Hazard is coming up on its 3rd birthday and is now available on XBLIG, PC, Mac, PS3 & iOS. It has also just been released on Android (Details here)

Given that the game has been out for so long and is now on quite a few platforms I thought I’d share some sales comparison data with you. I know how scarce this sort of information is so I hope you find it useful. So onto the good stuff...

Total Revenue

This is the total revenue for Beat Hazard over the years. There are spikes and bumps all over, so let’s break it down...

Separate Platforms

So here we have the revenue for each platform. We have Steam, XBLIG, PS3 and iOS.

The first thing that jumps out is how Steam just kicks ass! Not only does the Steam version dwarf the income from other platforms, it keeps coming back to life like some lovable cash making zombie. Let’s look at how Valve helps developers make that happen:

The Mighty Power of Steam

Each spike on the Steam chart relates to a significant event:

(a) I added an iTunes support a few months after the game came out. You can see that the extra exposure gave the game a good kick.

(b) Beat Hazard was on sale during the Steam Xmas sale 2010. It was 50% off with one day at 70%. Also, Valve were giving away prizes for collecting special Xmas achievements. I added a survival achievement especially for the sale and that’s where a lot of the sales came from. Huge numbers of players bought the game at 70% off just to get the special achievement. (And a lot of those players went on to become true fans of the game)

(c) To get the game approved for PSN I had to add extra features to the game (new modes, enemies, perks, weapons etc). I released these changes as the Ultra DLC on Steam. Just after this Valve had a summer sale where I added a Gold Ship to the game as a special sale prize. The Gold Ship was hugely popular and generated a lot of sales.

(d) Another special Xmas sale involving collecting achievements to unlock prizes. This time I added an achievement where you had to survive 5 minutes while playing to Christmas music (Mwhahaha!) I think it drove some players up the wall with that one.

(e) The last summer sale. This was just a normal discount sale without special prizes etc.

What’s amazing it just how successful Steam sales are. They are just awesome. With a little extra work and a special version, Valve turns a normal sale into a buying and playing frenzy which everyone can enjoy. An important thing to note is that sales after a sale aren’t affected, if anything they go up due to the extra exposure.

Ok, let’s have a look at the other platforms:

Platform Split

Here you can see the split over the life of the product between the different platforms. However, each version has been out different amounts of time, so here’s a normalised view:

Normalised Platform Split

With the normalised breakdown it’s interesting to see how lucrative XBLIG can be. It made nearly as much money as the full blown PSN version. And don’t forget, the XBLIG version was the base version, no extra ships or modes, no multiplayer, no leader boards or achievements. It shows you can get great sales on XBLIG.

Seeing Past the Steam

Here’s the separate platform graph again without Steam sales so you can see the differences between the other platforms more clearly. You can see that being featured on iOS gives you a massive boost, but sales quickly drop off compared to the other platforms.

Sony EU vs. Sony US

And for those that are interested, here’s the relative income from Sony US and Sony EU.

Note: Sony US pay per quarter and Sony EU pay per month. For these graphs I’ve averaged out the quarterly payments into monthly ones.

The US version has done marginally better than the EU one, but the difference isn’t huge.

Conclusions
Of course this is data from just one game, so I’d say don’t assume my data is general.

It’s easy to see how successful you can be if you get on Steam. Steam sales are not just the only thing Value do well though; I feel that a big part of their success is how well they treat their developers. For those that don’t know, Steam has an excellent API which is very easy to work with, they don’t have a certification process and you can upload new version any time you want. They treat you with respect and you’re allowed to make your own mistakes (and are free to sort it out when you do).

Console holders really need to take a leaf out of their book. They should lighten up and allow developers to more easily interact and respond to their community of players.

Final Thoughts
I hope you’ve found this breakdown useful. If you’re an Indie dev slaving over your love of labour, good luck with whatever project you’re working on. I hope you do well!

Oh yeah, did I say Beat Hazard was out on Android? Grab it here

Twitter: @ColdBeamGames

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Comments


James Orevich
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Should we expect another spike
(f) Beat Hazard Blog Post on Gamasutra? =D

Ahmad Jadallah
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What engine\tools did you use to be able to deploy to all these platforms? (XBLIG/PSN/iOS/Android)

Steve Hunt
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XBLIG was C# & XNA
I then went to C++ using a small directX engine called HGE
PSN, iOS was Open GL (ish)
and Android uses Marmalade.

But most of the code it the same on all the platforms.

Scott Sheppard
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Thank you. Very helpful indeed.

David Klingler
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This is very good information. Thanks for posting, and thanks for making that awesome game. I really like it on PC, and I'm downloading it on Android right now.

Jane Castle
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Wow incredible sales numbers! Good work!

It's funny how the consoles impose so many rules and regulations on indies and in the end come up short on where it counts the most..... SALES.......

Steve Hunt
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Yeah, seems the console guys just fire and forget with their games. It's a shame really.

Jane Castle
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BTW Thanks for posting your numbers. Very few people do that these days and it is appreciated. The only numbers I ever see from indies is when they are unsuccessful. So it is refreshing to see numbers from someone who had success with their project.

Tyler Yohe
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Steve, greatly appreciate the sales review! 3 years later, and even with the 'transparent, community friendly' games coming out from Kickstarter, finding sales data for business model projections is hard to come by.

Seems like you hit a home-run on your first game (congrats BTW), so I personally have to remember to keep these numbers 'to-scale' for my own game's projections (and would suggest the same for others peeking at this) - but I'm still very thankful for the data and insight.

Best of luck on the Android release!

Lars Doucet
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Have you considered releasing with GOG.com ? They were our second biggest source of revenue after Steam.

Steve Hunt
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No, but I'll have a look now!

Marvin Hawkins
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Nice article! Uber inspiring, and shows what happens with diligence. How did you decide which platforms to start with? How is it managing all of the different outlets, stores etc? Thanks for sharing!

Steve Hunt
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I went for XBLIG first as it was free and they had a solid engine to start on.
Then I got the Steam deal so it was over to PC & C++.
After that I wanted to port to all the main platforms. My long term strategy was to have an idea of how each platform performed and have a cross platform game engine so future games would be far easier to deploy.
That strategy is going well, all versions have paid for themselves so far and I now have my cross platform game.
Managing all the versions wasn't too bad because they were staggered.

Rob Graeber
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Thanks for sharing numbers, very few people do these days. Aside from that, it seems like the main takeaway is get your game on steam at any costs.

Steve Hunt
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Steam is definitely king. However, with Greenlight I think you need a good fan base before attempting to get on there. And you can see, the other platforms bring in enough to keep going.

Lennard Feddersen
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Impressive numbers - is that gross at retail or gross royalties sent to you?

Are the price points the same on each platform?

Would you mind sharing your assets budget?

Steve Hunt
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That's gross retail.

Prices vary per platform, e.g. $3 iOS vs $10 on Steam (But PC does have multi play, and there's no way you could charge $10 for a game on iOS even though it's pretty much the same thing)

Budget for all versions was pretty cheap.
PSN version was the exception and was pretty expensive. (ratings, dev kits, middleware, etc)

Samuel Batista
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Thanks for sharing Steve. And congratulations on a very successful game!


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