True to their word, Microsoft has provided Community Games sales data by the end of March (2009). The results are, in one word, sobering.
First, let me just reiterate that we have been very upfront about what Mommy’s Best is trying to achieve. We want to make kick ass games, full-time. I left one of the best video game employers to strike out and make my own games. This is my full time job, I am not a hobbyist and Weapon of Choice shows that. It is a full-fledged game, which took a full year to make. Not only did we hope sales would recoup the savings we spent during the year of development, we hoped it would provide enough financing to support the development of our next game. So, as the end of the month started breathing down our necks, we had our numbers categorized into:
10,000 units = “That hurts”
20,000 units = “We can live with that” and
30,000 units or more = “We’re in business!”
The time for truth... Weapon of Choice’s sales, from November 19th through March 26th, made below “That hurts.”
At GDC 2009, Microsoft stated that “Several Community Games top sellers will be taking home more income from four months of sales than the average U.S. citizen earns in a full year.” According to the US Census 2005, “median annual earnings were $32,000.” Based on this, it is fair to say that Weapon of Choice is a top seller. Although this number may look enticing to a hobbyist, we can only look at sales data and what it means for Mommy’s Best Games, taking into consideration (not necessarily in this order):
- Microsoft’s baseline cut of 30% and remittance rate.
- Microsoft’s potential additional 10% to 30% cut depending on the amount of Microsoft promotion for the game. (Edit note: it has come to our attention that Microsoft has "decided to maintain the 70/30 split across the board whether your game was featured or not." Therefore, this is not longer a factor to consider. Thank you Microsoft!)
- Royalties owed to our contractors.
- State and federal taxes.
- Cost of development, not including salaries, i.e. membership, software licenses, travel, hardware and marketing.
- Although this is only 4 months of sales, except by the grace of God or a divine new marketing strategy, we do not anticipate seeing sales staying this strong.
What all that means to our bottom-line, we do not yet know, but it does not feel great. Maybe rational people hang up their keyboard and call it quits. But if you played Weapon of Choice, you realize we’re far from rational. We feel that Mommy’s Best Games has made a name for itself. Just check out our press page!
Our new title, currently in development, has recently moved from preproduction into production. It just hit that magical point, the exciting part in the development process, when the game is actually FUN! (Non-developers note: it takes a while during development before fun games actually become fun). Even while I was processing the low sales numbers I was almost annoyed with myself for being excited about waking up the next day to work on our next game.
I’d like to close by thanking all the fans and journalists who’ve supported Mommy’s Best Games and enjoyed roasting some freaky alien nut-sacks. Stay with us, I promise the next game will be even better!
UPDATE 1: Weapon of Choice is being prepared for release to the PC market, but we don't have a date yet.
UPDATE 3: Shoot 1UP, our second game, has passed 15,000 sales. Check out daily sales data here: http://mommysbest.blogspot.com/2010/04/shoot-1up-daily-sales.html