Yet again a game developer has emerged on Reddit, in a public plea for answered, utterly bewildered by the launch sales of their game, a game that was in development by a team for 4 years and seemed like it was going to do well. At least that is what they were told by early testers and friends.
(Full analysis video embedded below)
Now this situation is of course not uncommon, the difference here being, their game had a notable indie budget of US$10000, and they seemed to tick all their boxes, marketing, social media presence etc. They even managed to muster up a pre-launch wishlist count of 2300, which though not ‘hit game’ material, is not to be scoffed at, as building a steady wishlist for small indies in today’s market can be slow (trust me I know!). However after launching their game they were in for an extreme shock, as reality are crashing down upon them.
Of their 2300 wishlists they converted 2 sales. Yes 2, not 2 percent, literally 2 sales – which is a conversion rate of 0.04%, in a market where indies are often told conversions of 10-50% are to be expected. Clearly something has gone wrong here, and I’d personally like to get to the bottom of it so help others in a pre-launch situation, and to perhaps give the developers some insight.
First I want to say I really feel for these guys, regardless of the outcome, they should feel proud for getting free their first game out, and by the sounds of it, it was a significant logistical effort , approached professionally and valiantly.
I’ve seen a lot of focus put on wislists recently, with various ‘marketing guys’ touting the power of the wishlist, and with good reason of course. The wishlist is more or less the primary data point we have to determine if a game will have a successful launch – But it’s not the only factor.
A wishlist is not a guarantee of purchase, rather, it’s a pledge made by a potential buyer, that IF on launch, the product meets or exceeds the expectations set during the time of original wishlist, there is a chance they will by.
There was a similar such situation a year or so ago, where a game had a whopping 16 thousand wishlists pre-launch, and too failed dramatically during launch with a mere 50 or so sales conversions.
The take away from these situations is that, whilst wishlists are incredibly valuable in determining success, ultimately said success needs to be aligned with other factors: launch price, launch timing, final store media, game polish, among many other micro factors that are often difficult to discern, call them luck if you will.
Below is the complete Analysis video where I break down all the problems I found which I beleive led to the failed launch