Owen Goss, the owner of Streaming Colour Studios released a great article about his iPhone App Store experience that has been sweeping the Indie blogosphere. If you have not read the post, you really need to do it right now, but the gist is that Owen invested $32,000 in Dapple, a color matching game, that has returned only a couple hundred dollars in the first few weeks of release. Owen’s post was awesome. He was not whining. He was just putting out a data point for the community to digest, and I, for one, appreciate his honesty.
A day after the release, the article was picked up by Slashdot, and Owen wrote a follow up article describing the responses he has gotten. Here is an excerpt:
Perception of whining or quitting
Many people perceived my post as whining about my sales, or that I was giving up on the game. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The post was meant purely as informational. I thought it would help people to see that selling an app on the App Store is just like selling any other product: it takes a lot of work and you shouldn’t expect to be an overnight success. I am also not giving up on Dapple; far from it. I’m only just getting started with it. That post was only a single data point on what I hope is a long upward trend for the game. Every game, every company starts somewhere, and I wanted to document where that was for me.
The observation that I would like to make is that it would be great if Owen’s work could be leveraged across multiple platforms. I think Dapple looks like a game that would work in the casual portals, on Facebook, and in the Flash market. Adding all of those revenue streams together may not have made the game profitable, but it could lessen the blow, and who knows, maybe activity in one market will lead to recognition in another market.
This is the strategy we are taking with our Push Button Labs game, Grunts: Skirmish, and a strategy that I am seeing a lot of developers talk about. We will be counting on a lot of activity in the Flash market to drive sales in the other markets. If hundreds of thousands or even millions of people play our game on the Flash version, it will drive traffic to our site so we can potentially upsell them on our High Definition or heavy client versions, or eventually on microtransactions or even subscriptions. Imagine what you would have to pay in advertising dollars to get that kind of exposure, but the cool thing is, we will get PAID to release the Flash version.
Some developers only want to focus on a single platform. As an example, Jeremy Alessi, a frequent commenter on MBG, is just about to release his third game on the iPhone. He is happy with this strategy, and does not want to take the time to develop tools or processes to put the game anywhere else. As always, the best thing about being an Indie is that you have the freedom to do what you want. However, it is my firm belief, as an Indie, that spreading risk around is the best path to success.
I don’t want to turn this blog into a big advertisement, but I do need to mention that our open source Flash based Push Button Engine is the basis of how we are going to be bringing our games to multiple markets. It is currently in closed Beta, but we hope to announce the Open Beta before GDC.