Don’t quit your day job? Here’s why I haven’t…
On September 14th Golemizer will be 2 years old. I was wondering which way I could highlight this anniversary so here’s a look at how it did on the financial level. I won’t go into much details about the why it did good or bad as I’ve already touched these on my blog (and still do from time to time). Here I just want to share some raw data.
Two years for an indie MMO ain’t bad but is it a financial success? Well it’s not what I would call a total failure (the game is still online and still under my control after all) but it never became a full-time job.
For those who don’t know the full story just let me give you a quick overview. In 2007 I decided I would build a browser-based MMO even though I had no idea how to do it and no real game development experience (beside two small experiments). What should have become some wasted space on the web became a game and was released in 2008.
Even though the game was released on September 14th 2008 I only implemented the current microtransactions system in April 2009. If you’re wondering why I waited so long well just refer to the previous paragraph where I’m saying I had no real game development experience. And if you’re wondering why I implemented a microtransactions system well ads and donation buttons don’t work for everyone.
Note that the following numbers are excluding some data from “partners” (that should in theory get potential players to Golemizer but eh …) but that wouldn’t change much anyway.
These are sadly not net incomes. Maintaining both servers required to run the game (1 dedicated machine for the game and a cheap VPS for forums, wiki, website) cost $241 each month.
16 months revenue
16 months expenses
Most of this profit was then reinvested back in the game for new pixel art so there’s not much left in my pockets … still it’s not a loss … if I leave out the initial investment before the microtransactions system.
When I started to work on Golemizer I’ve been careful to not throw a huge amount of money in it because I had no real idea of what I was getting into, I had no experience and I’m cheap. You can argue that being that careful can be one of the reason (among many others) why the game didn’t do that well but all I know is that today I still have a house, a car, a dog, can afford wine each week and that my ambitions never caused any uneasy financial discussion with my wife.
Back then the game server was a cheaper machine bringing down monthly expenses for servers at $150.
While most graphics are from free graphic libraries I still had to get some custom work done to get everything I needed without any fear of going into legal troubles (you know just in case this thing was to become big). So just to get the game started I spent $1,225 on custom pixel art.
So the total initial investment before seeing any real income (there was some money from ads and donations but not much to talk about) was $2,125.
Total expenses after 22 months
Loss after 22 months
So success or failure?
Well obviously I have yet to make any money with Golemizer but I still think that it’s not that bad considering the point from where I started and that working on Golemizer brought me invaluable experience on many levels (programming, community management, gaming press, game design, “partners”, …). The fact that I didn’t lose my shirt in the process is also to be considered.
Of course I was hoping Golemizer would do better as it was a lot of work, a lot of crazy hours while keeping a day job but to be able to say that I worked on such project is still worth something for me. One thing is sure is that new opportunities are now available to me and I’m surely not done with game development!
Bonus data! How do players spend their money?
The average number of days before a player starts spending money in Golemizer is 32 days. The longer a player has been playing the game the most likely he is to buy something from the in-game store.
Breakdown of Altus Coins packages sold (currency for the in-game store):
$50 : 14%
$20 : 32%
$10 : 19%
$5 : 16%
$2 : 17%
Here are the sales for all items available through the in-game store since it was released in April 2009. Feel free to analyze this data anyway you want! Not sure what an item is about? Why not take a closer look by checking out Golemizer!
184 Exotic Rug
139 Exotic Plant 1
136 Inventory expansion +60
135 NPC Skin Tools (to change appearance of merchants and quest NPCs)
124 Bedside-Manner Inventory expansion (golem powerup)
118 6000 Time Points
77 Piano (small)
72 Victorian Rug
72 Military Uniform – Blue
65 Inventory Expansion +30
50 Giant Pumpkin
48 Market Stand
47 Clothing quality upgrade kit
35 Frequency Analyzer
35 Military Uniform – Red
33 Golem Remote Station
32 Observatory Skin
25 Inventory expansion +10
25 City Blueprint
23 Max Time Points Upgrade – Gold
22 Military Uniform – Yellow
22 Masked Trench Coat – EB
20 3000 Time Points
17 Max Time Points Upgrade – Silver
16 500 Time Points
15 200 Time Points
15 Victorian House 1 Skin
13 1500 Time Points
13 Exp. Points Bedside-Manner
13 Mad Manor Skin – Black
12 Haunted Victorian House Skin
11 Max Time Points Upgrade – Copper
10 Military hat 1 – EB
10 Military red coat 1 – EB
9 Victorian House 2 Skin
6 Lighthouse Skin
6 Mad Manor Skin – Green
6 Electron Stamper Upgrade +100
5 Shipyard Skin
2 Mad Manor Skin – Pink
2 Mad Manor Skin – Purple