Another week, another Etsy sale. Most of the time *something* is on sale on Etsy even if not the most popular items (ie printing services) and that’s intentional, it’s a rotation of items on sale from week to week. Some weeks multiple categories are discounted and on holidays everything is discounted HEAVILY. This October has been an anomaly: more sales made the first half of October 2022 than the first half of the year 2021. A twelvefold increase in frequency of sales! That of course makes it something of a challenge to keep up. I try to get every order out on time of course but occasionally things do arrive late especially during sale events or when a HUGE order has been placed.
This month has seen $450 in sales and it hasn’t even hit the halfway mark!
So that is astounding, even if 67-72% of it is getting eaten up by materials and shipping supplies and so on. I even am releasing new print products now like (very cheap, my cheapest material) prints on copy paper and small print items like bookmarks!
The Halloween rush is going to be deranged in its level of activity. I’m pretty sure of that. I am of course setting a lot of other tasks aside to stay focused on fulfilling Etsy orders for the rest of October. A few things still get some attention though – one being the ongoing work on Vivid Minigolf. I aimed for a ‘late 2022’ release and still am hoping to get that done successfully.
Any success via Etsy will slow down the first release of the game slightly but will also give it a stronger shot at visibility when it does get released. Right now I’ve built courses, implemented features, am actively debugging the game… all the mini supply materials involved were covered months ago, the software side of things and the Steam fee are covered too. But that leaves me with a bit of a challenge in gaining publicity at time of release.
Should Halloween prove effective in generating sales activity, it will give me a bigger promotional budget to work with which in turn may have a multiplier effect if used well, in that this title might appear somewhere on the lists of popular releases. Ideally first page of Itch with no scrolling down the list, maybe a bit of scrolling on Steam but not too much? That kind of thing helps people notice that a game exists! I will be messaging a (fixed) list of Youtubers and game news sites with download keys, of course, and my policy is not to hand out keys to anyone not on that top-100 list. I know random people will claim to be a popular Youtuber, ask for free keys, and then resell them on the cesspool that is G2A, it’s a common tactic. I’m just not going along with that, in general.
Other than the PR kit, the key distribution / mailing effort… a better YouTube trailer and more and more gameplay clips by time of launch… and my ongoing manual commenting on minigolf related videos on YT (I think I’ve linked to the game project on something like a hundred of the more popular YouTube minigolf videos at this point) I will also run a massive $150+ ad campaign across Google/YouTube, several banner ad networks, Twitter ads, Facebook/Instagram, and Bing/Yahoo search. I have already fine tuned with the initial $25 – am confident I can make over 5 million (generally, relevant) people aware that this game exists when it launches. This is in terms of *impressions* of course and it will probably translate to at most 1% of that group clicking through, and probable 1-3% of that 1% buying the game. In theory, then, we’re talking 500-1500 sales over time which… anything in that range would be amazing if it pans out. We are talking $1000-3000 there, factoring in the reality that many of the buys will be during sales and that Valve gets a 30% cut.
If that happens though, great potential for free updates over that first year of release. The core seven courses only involved $500 in materials, $200 in Steam submission and software expenses specific to the project, $150 or more promoting the thing at launch. Not to mention hundreds of hours of work as an indie with no actual pay rate.
So if this goes well, great! The target of $1000 in sales pretty much means breaking even on this project, and every $1000 or so above that means maybe some new features added, and an extra 5-6 courses posted in a free update to all players who bought the game.
I have thoughts about revising the game features to include, for example, randomly mixed 18-hole courses. Either a front nine/ back nine selectable combo or just 18 completely randomly selected holes. That is one of those things which would involve a lot of reworking of code to implement (like online multiplayer functions, multiplayer beyond hotseat) but which I would like to do in an update in early 2023. I also want to port this to mobile devices, touchscreen UI and all that. And I want to build AI opponents somehow as an option, even though that is tricky to do well.
I get it, you would all prefer these features exist at the outset. But I am a solo indie game developer. It takes time and cash to add all of this. I don’t have immense resources going in and I am hoping you all understand this. A game with a dev budget below $1k and an unpaid solo dev, is not going to be the most impressive thing ever, but if there is an audience for this, if people buy it and are patient, I will take that support seriously and do what I can to build amazing things with it in the next year.
Links relating to all of this:
Thanks for everything!