So, I’m considering finishing The Price of Freedom on the Choice of Games platform… No real excuse for this, it’s just that COG gives you money. I like money. You can buy stuff with it. ^_^
I’ve just finished making a game with Choicescript and was considering making a new game for their COG contest but then figured, if I start work on a new project now I’ll probably never get Price of Freedom finished. That said, money is a REALLY good motivator for me, and since it’s been nearly 3 years since Innocence Lost was published and all I’ve managed to get done since then is an updated version of the first game, financial motivation might actually encourage me to get the game fucking finished.
I would make a free version of the game for CYS members who’ve been waiting patiently for a sequel. Unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to actually publish the game on CYS.
This gives me mixed feelings, like when Bayonetta 2 came as a Wii U exclusive back in the day. On one hand, if this gets that excellent story finished, well it's something. On the other hand: CoG, and the complete version not being on CYS itself.
Wouldn't it be far far more rewarding financially if you were to publish it yourself via Steam, instead of going for hosted games? (Keep 30% vs keep 70%). The only tradeoff is you'd have to invest a little in art and maybe sound assets, and wouldn't get CoG's marketing appeal. But to be frank, I doubt CoG's core audience is what you're looking for, so there's that.
Furthermore, if you were to use Inkle's Inky (it's free) instead of Choicescript you'd be able to convert the Storygame into a kindle version as well and capture that market as well (plus be a published author in the bargain). Only tradeoffs would be that there's a reasonable one time fee to convert to a Kindle version, (but the rest of Inky is free) and you wouldn't have CoG's automated tests to run though (though I'm sure someone out there has a mod for Inky that would do just that).
In any case, all the best!
Well I'd have no idea how to go about publishing a game on Steam. CYS and COG come with pretty easy to use platforms for making text based games on. With Steam I wouldn't know where to start.
Unless you're adding professional-quality art and music, don't bother publishing it on Steam. It won't be able to compete.
Yes, two of the most esteemed writers on the site with so much to show!
Now that is what I call a fucking motivator!
I am about to rape twenty pages with words tonight!
Yes, yes, small person, big ego and dreams. Your talk is as cheap as you are.
The CoG forums are filled with WIP threads that never get finished.
Anyway my advice to Briar, would be the same thing I told Bucky, just write the story, submit it the powers that be over at CoG and THEN make a thread advertising it in the forums.
Don’t bother interacting with the actual community unless she really wants to be bothered with people telling her what she needs to put into her story.
Yeah, I find that a lot. I probably will end up putting together a WIP thread though, since COG has a rule that you need to ask for beta-testers on the actual COG forums, and a WIP thread would make people more aware of the game for when I ask for beta-testers.
(I actually only had one person on the site beta-test my last game. A couple more offered, but I never heard back from them.)
You might be okay now that they banned Laguz.
I think it was a case that they placed business over ideology when they started to realize that having an overly sensitive poppet screaming BIGOT at the authors in every thread was potentially bad for their image.
Hooray for capitalism.
Wait, she got banned? When did that happen?
He got banned like a couple weeks ago or so. Not for 200 years, but at least the double standard finally got acknowledged because he got away with shit that would have gotten someone else banned years ago given that the place tries to pride themselves on forum "civility." Wasn't like he was some contributing author there either.
The guy would go on about being a trans-furry-aspie (No seriously, he was all 3) in every thread and just generally act like an asshole to everyone. He reminded me of another older CoG member called Scarlet Geisha (She disappeared years ago though)
Got so bad he was even starting to call other SJWs a bunch of "phony allied" bigots. Lol.
THEY not SHE! Shame on you Jep! Shame!
Lol, I find that motivation threads work really well for a few days... Then not at all.
Yeah, I find it's difficult to say anything in the COG forums without somebody getting pissed off. That said, the only thing I wouldn't really need to worry about with COG is advertisement. Since inklewriter doesn't have a community, I'm not sure how I'd go about the task of actually letting people know that my game exists.
Well, it's fairly straightforward. That's why we get so many indie devs coming to the forums to ask us to buy their game/help their kickstarter.
I will BZ! ^_^
Hope you gets lots of $$$
I do like $! (Well more specifically £, but $ will do.)
I would imagine that it would be. There are slightly less restrictions on HG stuff.
Still have to jump through a few hoops for second class citizen status though.
You might find this thread of interest.
"It costs us about $1000 to publish an HG just in salary-hours spent between Dan, Rachel, and myself. There are a number of games that we've published via HG which--in their multi-year lifetime--have still not grossed more than $1000. We literally lose money on those games--and continue to do so every month, as we have to spend resources on customer service when things go wrong as well as the time involved in calculating and paying royalties--but we still pay the full royalty amounts.
We're not going to offer to copyedit games that are submitted to HG; in particular, we can't say, "send us your game and maybe we'll pay for it to be copyedited." More importantly, though, why would we spend money when we're just as likely to lose money on a project as not? Does that mean we should try and evaluate games, and decide whether to copyedit-publish or reject? Maybe? But that clearly raises the bar and also introduces the possibility of error. For example, @tw1stedmind called out Zombien as an example of a poorly written game. However, Zombien, in terms of life-time revenue, is 18 out of the 74 currently published Hosted Games. Should we have rejected it? Would we have guessed that it was going to make as much money as it has? I wouldn't have.
Or take Magikiras. The game is almost a million words and a copyeditor would have charged at least $10,000 to copyedit it. That's a huge gamble on a game that we weren't involved in the design and creation of. We don't know the author. He has no prior publications. He's not a native English speaker. He certainly didn't read our various guides on what we think makes a good CSG. How would/should we have handled that? If you would have asked me then--or now--if I was willing to gamble $10,000 on it, I would have said you were crazy. (It's #19 out of 74, and has grossed about 80% of what Zombien has made.)"
Still working on that analysis. @Briar_Rose what monetisation route will you be going down:
E: nvm, I've found one equivalency, assumptions can be made (more) safely now
I wish you the best of luck in this endeavor.
Just don't forget about the little people when you make it big :c
Alright, I'm just throwing penguins in the air now. Not going into the entire morass that is Google Play sales and trying to interpolate numbers (can do if you really ask for it though). Spent far more time than I'd planned on this, my analytical skills are rustier than I'd liked.
Presenting: How much you can expect from Hosted Games, and how much CoG itself makes from a representative 95K sales (of its 243k sales)
Analysis is Age of game vs Net sales (taking off Steam's 30% share). In general, CoG's games do not sell too much. I have a large list of other game makers as well for text games (there are only about 17 including indies), if you want that for comparison.
Let's look at the hard numbers of units sold. They're terrible. The main benefit you're getting from CoG is ease of mind (no steam greenlight), otherwise it costs just $100 to put a game up on steam (+greenlight), and with maybe a little bit of PR, you can atleast earn a lot more. I am NOT seeing any benefit from their work on steam. Additionally, the Google Play sales are in the same range of their Steam games more often than not, and I'll assume similar for iTunes sales. Cost for selling on iOS is $100 per year, for Google play it's $25 one time. Cost to CoG to upload one game is $1000. Those are the facts.
Going indie and fully free > Expect 100k downloads and 50k plays. Standalone paid indie game sales figures range from 500 to 10,000 units (in less than 2 years). You CAN go indie, their take home is better. (USD 1.3k to 40k).
I've arrived at sales per unit through taking the max discount offered on the game, and making some assumptions on how many sales were at the max discount, with the ratio of sales at full price vs sales on discounted value shifted towards discounted sales as time goes on. For an example of a new text based game that was World of Darkness Preludes: Vampire and Mage - 15th Feb, 830 owners at $10 = 5804 after Steam's cut. For a more indie game, A Normal Lost Phone, 26 Jan, 4151 owners at $3 = 8688 after Steam's cut. Evertree Inn (Hosted game), 20 Jan, 590 Owners at $4 (even after a 25% sale the other two didn't have), author's takeaway from Steam sales $636
Data source: Steamspy for units sold, SteamDB for max discount, assumptions for sales vs discounted sales are:
Are there options? The big three in the sector (non-visual novels, not excessively gamey, choice based narrative) are Inkle, Tinman, and CoG. Did I miss someone?
e: Delight's App store only, but they do have decent numbers as far as I could see
Holy crap, that's a lot of number crunching. Interesting stuff though.
The charts show steam sales, the second compares net sales value (sum) to units sold (count). The rightmost column in the first just doubles the Steam sales value estimate for a back of the envelope calculation of total sales factoring in Steam + App stores (iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Chrome). Most games had the same pricing on Steam and App Stores, so the prices are consistent for this estimate. There would only be a meaningful difference if the discounting behaviour was different than Steam, but that's more work than I'm interested in for a back of the envelope calculation, and it's fair to assume it's roughly similar.
I thought Hosted Games were outsider work and CoG was in-house only, mistake on my part. I also assumed 30% of the Steam sale value was given to the author (should have been 25%, so take home is even lower). I'm assuming that's of the Gross price, not residual after the 30% Steam cut (i.e. 25% of 100 not 25% of 70).
The downside for writing for CoG is opening yourself up to the weird brigade they have over there, but otherwise it's a plus in every other way.
The first sheet shows all Steam sales, grouped by when the game was launched (to show that new ones aren't making much, the old ones are coasting on). Hosted games are selling far fewer numbers. Furthermore, of what they do earn, authors only get a residual: I calculated 30% of the gross (i.e. 3/7th of the number in the column to its left). This should have been 25% (25/70) in hindsight.
No, going indie will not get you $100K in sales (by volume or value) BUT you keep far far more money than partnering with CoG. As I've mentioned in the paragraph the games that went out on their own earnt more, and I'd wager that not keeping a mental cushion of 'CoG will help me' may have made them market their games more.
Now, for my analysis I looked at all Steam games tagged with the Interactive Fiction, Choose your own adventure, and multiple ending tags to get a list of qualifying games. If there are other games out there that aren't tagged (possible), they would most likely show worse performance than my consideration list of 52 games.
Furthermore, for Hosted Games, I've looked at all 14 that are on Steam, for CoG games I looked at their top + some from the middle and bottom of their sales numbers. A CoG Moderator quoted above mentioned that basically only their top 18 hosted games make notable money, and looking at all 14 on Steam, I'm guessing 13 are in the top 18, so frankly being a hosted game (not also on Steam) is frankly worse.
I invite anyone interested to check out the numbers for their entire Steam Catalogues on Steamspy here: Hosted Games / CoG
As far as I can see, Amazon considers them to be regular Kindle books (no separate Interactive Fiction Tag). All online stores (iTunes, Google, Steam, Kindle) I know of keep 30% of the sales value, but outside of a one time setup fee (and iTune's 99$/Year account renewal fee) don't have any other costs - you keep the lion's share. Looking forward to your thoughts on the numbers.
Bonus analysis: Average Playtime in Hours : Steam Sales (Net)
Note that the older games may have been played more times than newer ones, so their time played will be higher by default. Time played is a good proxy for both wordcount and number of paths, and how engaged the reader was.
Bloody hell that's a lot of number crunching. How many hours did you spend getting all these numbers?
Well, one thing you've definitely convinced me of (and I had a pretty good idea of this already) is that Hosted Games, in general, do not make a lot of money. That said, I'm still not convinced that I can make more money by going indie. I mean, I don't even know if I'd be able to get the game green-lit for one thing. I can't imagine there's a massive audience for interactive fiction games on steam.
If the game did somehow manage to get green-lit, I don't know how much money it'd make. Your paragraph on indie games says;
"Going indie and fully free > Expect 100k downloads and 50k plays. Standalone paid indie game sales figures range from 500 to 10,000 units (in less than 2 years). You CAN go indie, their take home is better. (USD 1.3k to 40k)."
I'm guessing you're basing that on successful games though, and I have no way of knowing whether the game will be successful. I don't know the first thing about advertising or appealing to a mass-market, and when it comes to indie games, I think that kind of thing matters a lot more than having a decent game does.
Also, and this is pretty important, I wouldn't have a platform to make the game on. CYS and COG both come with platforms that're pretty easy to figure out. If I was going to make an indie game, I'd need to find a new platform that's free to use and that I'd be allowed to publish games on. Either that or I'd have to somehow make a platform of my own, and that's definitely not going to happen.
Also, had a brief look at interactive fiction games on steam. I couldn't for the life of me find any information on how many downloads a game on steam has. Where do you find that information?
Anyway, other than the COG and Hosted Games, the majority of the "Interactive Fiction" games on steam didn't seem to be interactive fiction at all, and the ones that were seemed to use a great deal of graphics and music which I really don't want to invest in, making me more worried that, if I did make an idie game, I wouldn't be ble to get it green-lit.
The numbers I've shown could have been picked up in ~20 minutes, the ones I haven't took me nearly all day.
This is the full list of game I considered relevant to the analysis. None of these outside 80 Days and Cinders would be considered hits (of which I suspect a large part of Cinders' sales are from bundles, I know 80 Days was in a few). The 100k was if you price the game at 0, meaning that at 0 price, 100k units can sell, at $3-4 around 2-25k units sell (factoring in game quality and marketing and luck). If you want I could make a simple price / units x/y graph to help visualise. To be honest, I don't see many people making really good games that are text based and putting them on Steam. Emily Short never put anything up, which would have been a reference.
The main risk of indie is sinking money and not getting anything, the main advantage is that with a little bit of quality, work, and also luck, you can do far far better than any other option.
Now, let's look at your game. Price of Freedom: Innocence Lost is a 44K word length gladiator / roman fiction novella (20k-40k words is a novella, 40k+ is a novel, but since CYoAs have branches, a typical branch story of PoF would be <40K words). My gut tells me there's a strong (mass) market for this (the concept is simple and Gladiator is a cultural icon), but I don't have hard numbers for that as of now. There's a new Gamasutra article on market sizing which I'll be checking out over the weekend, maybe I'll return to this after I've digested that article's premise.
Lets look at your numbers, in three years, PoF:IL received 60,047 plays on a website that runs between top 400k - 180k rank in Alexa measured traffic (the 180K and better are our recent trend). On Steam, a free game can get 100k downloads in two years. It's really safe to say you've got a great product, considering your ratings, and the number of plays you've gotten on a website that is not common knowledge (you have to seek it to find it, unlike Steam).
For platforms, I recommend Inky (by Inkle, it's the desktop version of Inklewriter, and it's fully free - excluding a one time conversion fee to export to Kindle format).
As far as marketing goes, I really think you should launch a Kickstarter - get some funds from it, and let that be your marketing.
Another option is to port PoF:IL to Inky, launch that on itch.io (for free, preferably with a link to CYS so we get more traffic as well), and let that be your marketing. Most indies I know start out with free content on itch.io. When you launch there, you can start emailing Eurogamer, PCGamer, Gamasutra (write an article here), Kotaku, Gamespot, Destructoid, IGN, Rockpapershotgun, and everyone else to build PR. Another option is to talk to Humble, and get your game as part of their weekly or preferably their monthly bundle (PoF:IL). That way you'll get an excellent reach.
I hope that's enough to get you thinking.
God, that's a lot of work. I'm pretty impressed with how much data you managed to gather. Having a look at some of the more popular games does kind of confirm my worries though. Games like 80 Days and Cinders contain a lot of graphics and sound affects. My game wouldn't contain any.
As far as the idea of launching a kickstarter goes, I don't really see how I'd be justified in having one. The reason people launch kickstarters is that their project needs money to be completed. Mine doesn't. It doesn't cost any money to write my game, just time, and I have a lot of that right now, so I'd be writing anyway.
Also you seem to know a lot about marketing and who to get in contact with and how successful indie gamers go about getting PR for their game. I don't know any of that and I'd be doing all the marketing by myself. From the sounds of it I'd be putting more time and effort into marketing the game than I would in actually writing it. >.<
I'm looking into inklewriter, but I'm having trouble finding examples of games written with inklewriter, besides the examples they use on their website. (Suppose it doesn't help that I don't have a kindle.) Also it kind of looks like inklewriter is quite limited in terms of what you can actually do with it. It looks like it's designed more for branching stories than for games with stats and variables to keep track of.
Also... "Vague promises of a waifu simulator based only on a few crappy sketches, before vanishing forever. To use a random example. " Did this actually happen? ^_^
Seth may have kickstarted a thingo whose sales would make up for time lost at work...
He was never seen again.
I'm jut basing that on a few comments I found on an article about inklewriter. One person wrote:
"I highly doubt they used this to make their IOS apps. Last I checked you couldn't do any kind of stat-tracking, or inventory or any of the nifty RPG stuff, pretty much strictly branching story."
A member of the inkle team replied:
"We don't, but mainly because of scale. You can do stat tracking: inklewriter has boolean flags (e.g. for items you might carry) and counters (for hit points and the like). But, there are limited ways to print that info out without writing Actual Code. Things like Sorcery!'s fighting and spell-casting are, of course, made from the ground up." (Granted I didn't really understand half of what was said.)
So from the looks of it, even the inkle team don't use inklewriter to make their games because what you can do with it is too limited.
I'm recommending you use kickstarter for the art and sound. This is the dev blog of six ages (the successor to Kings of Dragon Pass, by the original team). This is their budget.
63% of their entire spend is art and sound, and they make beautiful works in both. That's what you can get through with Kickstarter, plus having those will put you a notch above the average CoG game. And if there's one thing we know, despite how much we may praise 'the boundless human imagination,' when it comes to the trenches, people like pictures. It's a fact. EndMaster himself at times has admitted (I picture him between puffs of cigarette smoke while looking at Babylon burning when he says it) that he rates stories by the quality of their pictures. Embrace it, instead of fighting it.
Link to the full budget spend article for Six ages here
Also, the marketing thing is a bit annoying to start, but it's like riding a bicycle - once you get a hang of it, it'll be easy. Furthermore, while you first commercial game may or may not be a smash hit, in doing so you set yourself up for building a brand (and profits down the line) from what other games you can potentially make. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
Ah... See here's the thing, when I said that I was worried my game wouldn't do so well as an indie game because most of the more successful indie interactive fiction games used images and sound and mine doesn't, I wasn't actually looking for advice on how I could raise money to pay for the graphics and sound. I don't plan on using them, I plan on the game being just text.
Nice number-crunching! Always been curious about CoG sales.
Missing from the analysis: iOS sales. Maybe I'm biased, but I'd expect that to be a decent chunk.
Regardless, CoG's the only (paying) game in town. Going fully indie is something you do if you have an existing platform or a real unique selling proposition.
Hope you go for it, Briar. I'd throw a couple bucks in your hat. ^_~
Thank you. I couldn't find a reliable mobile sales tracker the way SteamSpy exists for Steam games. I just took the blind idiot assumption that Android / iOS sales are roughly the same to each other. I further looked at the install bands of the games that were on both Google Play Store (GPS) and Steam, and they were roughly all in the same range (e.g. if 1.5k sales on steam, they'd have 1k-5k installs on GPS if they were paid), so I'm in the right direction with the assumption of roughly equal sales between Steam and GPS. I'd assume iOS sales range from 0.8x GPS to 2.5x GPS (rare cases), but 2x Steam sales is a really comfortable assumption to make, hence my analysis.
One interesting conclusion I could arrive at regarding free to install, pay to continue games on GPS is comparing the installs and downloads of Choice of the Deathless and Heroes Rise:Herofall. Both have the same number of sales on Steam, but on GPS Deathless is free to download - pay to complete, whereas Herofall is pay to play (same price as Steam). Deathless shows 50k-100k installs, while herofall is 10k-50k (which its steam sales of 17,226 units lies in). Basically, you get 5x installs if your game is free to install, but I suspect number of paying customers is the same (~17k).
Alternatively you could just give up all this writing nonsense and sell drugs instead.
You'll make more money and have the satisfaction that your customers are enjoying your product.
You can tell it's all relevant because it’s mostly UK related and Briar is from the UK.
Anyway, if she gets into fraud and prostitution, (As a classy madam, not as a trashy hoe) she can make even more.
Hopefully in a year or so, she can then start funneling the excess money towards CYS and help the rest of us out. I mean it’s not like she needs to buy that many tigers for her personal drug lord zoo.
(Yes, knowing Briar she actually WILL spend all her money buying up "oversized kitties" for her personal zoo)
Awesome plan! Pot brownies for everybody! ^_^