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October 19, 2019
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MouseCraft Alpha Postmortem: Sales, Greenlight and features alpha-funded by the community

by Tomasz Tomaszewski on 10/07/13 01:20:00 pm   Featured Blogs

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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.

 

This article was originally posted on Crunching Koalas Blog - read it and share it here.

Two months ago we released an Alpha version of MouseCraft. It received many positive reviews and was alpha-funded in a rather unique way- our fans were able to shape the development of the game by channeling their contributions to particular game features.

Curious about our sales, Greenlight stats and our conclusions? Or maybe you'd like to know which features have been funded by our community?

How did we launch our game?


  • We launched a DRM-free, cross-platform (Windows, Mac, Linux), Alpha version of MouseCraft and sold it through our website. Here's the Alpha launch video:

 

 

 

Response

The Press
 
The game itself was positively previewed by many gaming sites, including: Rock Paper Shotgun, Kotaku, Indie Statik, Gamezone, Gameranx, Gamezebo or Greenlit Gaming.

There were also some pages that focused on our way of handling the alpha-funding process and our way of selling the full version of MouseCraft: USGamer, Gamesbrief, Gamezone or BeefJack . We were even compared to Mojang and Mode 7 Games!

 

 

 

 

Recognition from fellow developers and the rest of the gaming industry
 
We showed MouseCraft not only to the press and players but also to other developers and people who're generally involved in the gaming industry. And it turned out they liked our stuff!

There've been a dozen of nice Tweets about our game, including positive shouts from well-respected developers: Kris Piotrowski (Sword and Sworcery), Paul Taylor (Frozen Synapse), Adrian Chmielarz (The Vanishing of Ethan Carter), Tom Grochowiak (Cinders).
 

Showing the game to Rami Ismail and other indies at Gamescom.

 

Some powerful PR guys: Nigel Lowrie aka Fork Parker (Devolver Digital), Tom Ohle (EvolvePR) and opinion-forming journos: Logan Decker (PC Gamer), Andy Chalk (The Escapist), Lewie Procter (SavyGamer).

The game also received a high number of videos from popular YouTubers like:
Jesse Cox & Josh Mattingly, Rock, Endzeitkind, Qieth and The Indie Game Promoter.
 

 

 

Social networks
 
Apart from the usual Twitter and Facebook responses, someone posted the game to http://reddit.com/GameDeals, which resulted in 18 000 website hits on one day and nearly took down our server.

 

 

 

That's a pretty decent coverage for a new studio, with only an Alpha version of the game, right? Well, let's see what effect it had on sales and our Greenlight campaign...

 

Numbers

Sales
 
Our sales stats are and will always be public - the Alpha version was bought by nearly 1350 people and earned a total of $4400 in the first two months.

Update: It's a bit more now because MouseCraft got greenlit.

It's not a lot and to be honest- we expected more, but if you treat these as pre-orders than it doesn't look so bad, right?

Few observations:
 
  • The average price was about 3,30$, and the highest contribution was 112 dollars.
  • More sales = lower average price.
  • People interested in the game and not just "making a deal" contributed more.
  • Positive reviews from major gaming sites and personalities (Rock Paper Shotgun article or Jesse Cox's video) have not resulted in massive sales.

 

 

 

Game features funded by our contributors

As I mentioned before – people who decided to get the full version of the game, could (and still can) decide on how much they would like to give us for the game and what game features they would like to support with their contributions.

Over 70% of contributors changed the default values of our sliders and the bigger the contributions were the stronger they pointed to one specific feature. For example – one person who gave us over 50 dollars for the game, allocated all the funds into “implementing an online system for exchanging user-generated maps”.

Although, the overall community decision was different:

 

 
Greenlight stats

For a long time, this was the biggest disappointment of our Alpha launch. We had really high hopes for getting a lot of upvotes because of our free Beta Program (nearly 7600 registered members), our social feeds (1200 Facebook fans + 600 followers on both Twitter accounts) and the YouTube videos the game got (they were viewed nearly 200 000 times!)...

... and after 2 months, MouseCraft gathered only 10 000 upvotes, and was at 84% of the way to Greenlight's top100 which could be perceived as a lot but the truth is - it wasn't. Normally 20-25 games are greenlit every month, so we all thought MouseCraft needed about two times more upvotes to be considered a "Steam-suitable" game.

 

 

 

We slowly started to lose faith in getting greenlit, but then something unexpected and shocking happened... We were allowed to publish our game on Steam.
 

 

Conclusions

 

  • MouseCraft Alpha sales numbers are hardly a success, hardly a failure.
    It surely would have been a disaster for us, if it were the final game sales, but if you bear in mind that these are, in fact, pre-orders and MouseCraft wasn’t available on Steam, then the whole thing is starting to look pretty ok as pre-orders are usually 10 to 20 percent of the final sales.

  • Our "allocate your funds to particular game features" experiment was a success.
    People gave us more than they had to, and some of them contributed serious amounts of money to see the game updated the way they want to. Also, it made us really stand out in the huge number of indie games published these days.

  • Positive press coverage doesn’t guarantee massive sales.
    The significance of press articles is getting smaller every year - their opinions can be a great social proof, but it is Reddit, YouTube and Twitter which can bring crowds to your website.

  • Getting on Steam is not always only about upvotes.
    If you have a good game and you think it is being “treated unfairly on Greenlight” because of its genre – try reaching out to Valve.
    Try writing them an email or create a blog post that will get noticed. Even better- go on Gamescom, E3 or GDC and storm into their booth to show them your game. We have done all of these things, and I think it was one of the reasons why we got greenlit.

  • Your game's genre can be your enemy - be prepared or die.
    Marketing your PC game or your Greenlight campaign can be extremely challenging if your game is a puzzler. Even if it is fairly difficult, has no microtransactions and highly references classic PC puzzle games like Lemmings or The Incredible Machine, it will still be frequently treated as a mobile, iOS/Android game. Don't fight it, you will surely lose...
    Instead, try focusing on the features that will make you stand out from mobile games. We done that by emphasizing our Level Editor feature and our community-oriented alpha-funding process, which would be impossible to run at mobile devices.

 

Plans

 

  • We will be updating MouseCraft with some of the features that have been chosen and funded by our community.

    We call it a Co-creation Update and you can expect it to include new levels, placed in a completely new graphic theme and inspired by the maps that we received from our community. There will also be a new Tetromino brick, a good-looking game map and some bugfixes.

 

 

 

 
  • Steam Early Access.
    Thanks to being greenlit we will be able to publish MouseCraft to Steam's Early Access program. The game will stay there until it is fully finished. During that time, MouseCraft will definitely get updated a few times and will be integrated with all the Steamworks features (Leaderboards, Achievements, Trading Cards and Cloud Saves). We are also thinking about posting it to Desura, but we haven’t made a decision yet.

  • Keys to redeem the game on Steam.
    MouseCraft website states: "Receive all the perks by default - no need to beat the average price. Included : Soundtrack and Steam keys." We will of course live up to this promise - everyone who bought the game by now will receive free Steam keys, no matter what was their contribution.

  • We are sticking to our Give-What-You-Feel model, but...
    ...we have to make a price point for receiving the Steam keys as it is impossible to sell the game on Steam without a set price. The possibility of getting MouseCraft for a dollar or two would be really unfair to all the people who bought the game on Steam for a set price.

  • NotOnSteamSale The good news is we will be giving the Steam keys to all the contributors until Wednesday (9th of October), because of the ongoing Not On Steam Sale we're in. So do not linger- get MouseCraft along with Steam keys for how much you feel they're worth: http://mouse-craft.com/store.

 

This article was originally posted on Crunching Koalas Blog - read it and share it here.

 

Wow, that is a looong post... Hope you'll find it interesting, though. If you have any questions or just want to give us your thoughts, please leave a comment below, ping me on my Twitter or post on our Crunching Koalas Facebook wall.

 

 

 

 


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