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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

10,000 sales

Weapon of Choice recently passed the 10,000 sales mark, selling at 400 MS points! While I could have picked 9,837 sales as our arbitrary milestone, I thought 10k had a better ring to it. We're very happy and grateful to all the fans that have supported the game along the way. We know you have lots of gaming choices and it's a honor that you've picked our game to have and to hold and to use to kill disgusting aliens.

Originally we had higher expectations for the service. Since then we've recalibrated our estimates and believe 10k is a solid achievement, as it places Weapon of Choice in the Top Ten best-selling Indie Games to date*. And to better convey the size, I've compiled a small list of relative concepts that 10k copies of Weapon of Choice represents:
  • 47,823,213 gallons of alien blood spilled.
  • 919,534 brushes with Death. Under similar circumstances, Death would have stolen player's lives in other action games.
  • 423,525 references by gamers to Wilford Brimley, followed by 173,189 trips to his wiki page.
  • 276,207 frowns turned upside-down as the Vengeance Missile did its job.
  • 184,622 WTF's when encountering the various ungodly alien invaders throughout the game.
(All statistics discretely recorded by PARMAbots tele-imported from the year 2188.)

On a serious note, when possible I like to share information about our business's inner workings with the hopes of helping other developers in some way down the road. I want reveal information about Weapon of Choice's sales to encourage others to share more information about their sales more frequently. Xbox Indie Games is not even a year old and has shown it is different from the other digital stores. The more information developers have, the better decisions they can make in the future.

Weapon of Choice from November 19, 2008 to September 21, 2009:
Total sales : 10,010
Total trial downloads: 160,000+
Approximate conversion rate: 6.25%
SALES

This is a graph of the running total for sales.
(Click to zoom!)

And this shows the daily totals for sales.

TRIAL DOWNLOADS
Here is the running total for trial downloads.

And here is the daily trial downloads.

In addition to on-going game development posts, I also plan to release each month's new sales of Weapon of Choice on the dev log here for all to see.
(*Source: Xbox 360 dashboard->Game Marketplace->Indie Games->Browse All->All->Sort by Best Selling)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

OTAKU is forever

When we heard that Indie Games would be available in Japan we started work immediately on translating a press release and contacting the Japanese press to help promote Weapon of Choice. We hired a friend of a friend who speaks Japanese to help us translate our materials to make the extra effort when dealing with the press there. The sad news is I don't know if any of that helped. We haven't been contacted by anyone that we think was influenced by what we sent.
BUT the extra cool hyper super jet mode news is--Famitsu contacted us! Yes, that Famitsu, and out of the blue I received an email from a writer who was interested in an interview.
We received a copy of the magazine recently and wanted to share it with everyone. We're in the Otaku section, but guess what--I don't mind! In fact, that section is almost as big as the rest of the magazine covering "proper" games, so I think it's all pretty good. Sure, I haven't had the text translated, but I'm just hoping for the best that everything reads pretty well.

I'll take a quick business detour and show how the Famitsu article impacted downloads for Weapon of Choice.
(Click for more detail)
On the 9th and 10th of September Weapon of Choice had 40 and 56 trial downloads respectively, up from 12 on the previous day, so I imagine the magazine hit newsstands around the 9th. (Do they still have newsstands in Japan?) Sadly sales didn't really spike with the trials, though at least they continued to hop around between 1 to 2 sales a day in Japan.

Even after skimming around the web about how Otaku is perceived in Japan I'm fairly confused. Since it's not definitive I just hope for the positive side of things, that when Japanese kids see Weapon of Choice in that section they find the screenshots intriguing. How about you? Do you think Otaku a pejorative term or not?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Box Art of Choice

Along with a minor update (demo level changes to hopefully draw in more people) to Weapon of Choice, I'll also be changing the box art. There's a poll running over at xboxindies.com acting as my "Ask the Audience Lifeline" for box art selection. I'm trying to find the one that piques people's interest the most.

I've made the image annoyingly small in order to simulate how small an area the image takes up on your TV when you're searching games on your Xbox 360.

Please detail in the comments below what you liked or didn't like and about whatever images strike your fancy.
For instance,
  1. Does the girl need that "European look" made famous in MGS2?
  2. Does the blueprint need more mauve?
  3. Is the monster a giant spider thing, or a pile of Skittles on the ground?
  4. Have the millions of dollars I've spent on brand marketing made the original box the only art you could ever love?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fun Can Wrap

The results are out for the 2009 Dream Build Play contest and sadly Grapple Buggy didn't win. In fact Grapple Buggy didn't even place in the top twenty!

Questions filled my mind:
  • Did the game somehow crash immediately? Did they never even get to start playing it?
  • Was the "sci-fi buggy with grappling hooks exploring an alien planet and a mature story" genre completely saturated?
  • Did the notion that the alien co-pilot, "Drozo", eats puppy dogs as a snack turn off the judges?


At last the answer seemed obvious. The fun wrapped. As described in the well known, and ground-breaking white paper "Exploring Sensory Perceptions of Polarizing Satisfaction Elements" by Haag and Vormann, I think the judges had so much fun with Grapple Buggy that it actually crossed the maximum threshold and started over, at the bottom of what is "fun".

Dr. Haag called this theoretical threshold of fun the grenzespasse and examined how if some entertainment media actually caused a person to cross it, they would feel that the media was actually not fun. While I'm thrilled that it's possible Grapple Buggy would be the first media to do this, it's unfortunate it could have cost us the contest.

Just a word of warning to other developers out there: mind the grenzespasse. Make your games fun... just not... TOO FUN. And if Dr. Haag or Dr. Vormann would care to comment on our humble dev log I'd certainly be honored to hear their perspective on the situation.