Mommy's Best Games, Inc. is an independent game developer founded in 2007. Our seventh game, currently in development, is Pig Eat Ball on which we started working in 2013. This is behind the scenes thoughts about game development and marketing.

Nathan

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Big fish in a shallow pond

(Edit: Read to the end and check out the UPDATES on this story!)

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!”

Obviously, with a $5 game and these projections, we’re not looking to make millions, buy a Porsche, or vacation on the Riviera. We just wanted a sufficient salary and money for future game development and marketing.

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):

  1. Microsoft’s baseline cut of 30% and remittance rate.
  2. 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!)
  3. Royalties owed to our contractors.
  4. State and federal taxes.
  5. Cost of development, not including salaries, i.e. membership, software licenses, travel, hardware and marketing.
  6. 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 2: Weapon of Choice has crossed the 10,000 sales mark. It still doesn't un-"hurt" but it is money which keeps us going!

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

Monday, March 23, 2009

How soon 'til the end of the month?

"Join me for a visualization, won't you?" she asks in a lilting voice.

You are on the last leg of a road trip. You have been in the car for HOURS! It's summer. You're hot. You're sweaty. And, you have to use the bathroom. You have had to go for the last ten minutes, but you are almost home. Fifteen minutes to the door and sweet relief. You do not want to stop now, because it will only prolong the trip. The song on the radio, you think it's the Carpenter's, yet it scratches at your soul like Marilyn Manson singing zydeco, using his nails on a chalkboard to instead of a washboard. You call dibs on the bathroom, so everyone in the car can hear you. You encourage the driver to go faster, but now that you are off the highway, back on city streets, there are traffic lights to contend with, and you are convinced the driver is intentionally slowing down to hit all the red lights.

"Take a deep breath in and out and at the count of three, you will return to your air conditioned office, sitting in your cushioned chair, gazing at your computer, feeling rested and relaxed. You may be experiencing the need to void."
"Ready? One. Two. Three. Open your eyes."


This is how Nathan and I feel as we wait the final days to receiving info about Weapon of Choice sales data, since its launch on November 19th. We know we will make it, but it is still a question if we will or will not wet our pants in the mean time. Needless to say, we are anxious and excited (and might need some astronaut diapers).

Moving on...
Nathan is in the current (March) Paste magazine, on newsstands now.
Also we have updated our website. Check out the "Press" section! Now better organized for your viewing pleasure. Plus we have added "Lovefest" section which is self-explanatory.

Nathan is working away at our next title: double-secret, covert, turn-the-keys-together, pre-production stuff at this point. I know he will tease you with some tasty game morsels soon.