What's It Like When A Video Game Totally Flops, Selling Less Than 150 Total Copies?

What's it like when a video game totally flops, selling less than 150 total copies? Read this interesting Gamasutra blog by Aussie Airscape designer Daniel West if you want a glimpse at how tough it is to get games noticed these days. "It's no longer enough to make a good game."

Looks like quite a bit of luck is involved in this crowded marketplace, as well as needing a decent dose of business knowledge thrown into the game-making mix nowadays.Check out the story here.


    Well, yeah. Never heard of it. I guess that's part of the problem.

      It’s a convoluted marketplace now days and it’s too easy to get lost in all the Flappy Bird clones. Game Devs really need to hit social media and hit it hard.
      Getting noticed and staying in the spotlight is the only way. Oh and having a fun / unique game helps a little bit as well.

    I really get this, it's a real love hate relationship.

    Spoiled so not to 'wall up' the comments section :)

    My brother and I are uni students and we released our first game on PSM for Vita a while back using Unity 3D. We had a lot planned for the game. But, being unfunded and incredibly short on time, we needed to see 'what was what' sooner rather than later. And so pressure mounted from what could be called 'potential stake holders' and we were forced to release before we felt it was really ready.

    Again I should say, we were two guys in about a month with no real world experience who had never published anything like this before. We were quite proud of what we felt was a playable, but small , FPS that served us as a test to see what the Vita could actually handle and to see how things worked before upping the ante. We felt that the game was technically and visually impressive and very promising (Because of our developing skill level and the capability of the platform).

    We were also pleasantly surprised and incredibly happy by the unexpected support that the community started to give. We got a real sense that we were all stepping cautiously onto this new platform. (Even if we were personally late to the party). We were happily realising what this could mean for the future of PSM, ourselves, our games, and for other starter Indy devs.

    Before the game even hit the store for download, we had submitted a patch to PSM that addressed performance, improved game-play and even added some content. Naturally the patch took about a week to be made available on PSM. There were some criticisms, but we knew that not everyone would necessarily understand our situation or where we wanted to take things further on. Sales were not great, but they were still far better than we anticipated. The whole experience was mostly inspiring.

    Happy and inspired, we started developing a second level to be added to the game as a free update. It was much bigger than the original with greater scope, more advanced game play and AI. It would be challenging to make, but we were ready. We also started concept on a Top-down adventure game because we really wanted to see two things on the Vita: An exploration shooter - Check, and a top down adventure game. We wanted to make games that we wanted to play.

    We had a map modelled and in-engine for the new level/ content as well as the beginnings of coding a top-down 3D camera etc when the news hit. PSM would be no more. Things stopped for a while, not sure what to do as our plans fell one by one. We moved the new game over to PC development for the time being but are still saddened that we will never be able to complete our vision for our game, and what we wanted to achieve on PSM. We also found out very quickly how much more competitive things were outside of the small 'humble' platform-bubble that was PSM. Hundreds of interested community members dwindled to a handful (Which we are still EXTREMELY grateful for, don't get me wrong).

    Things are tough in this industry, but I do feel lucky for the opportunity of experiencing the hope and enthusiasm that can come with the good times, and what we have learned since then.

    Last edited 10/09/15 1:16 pm

      8 paragraphs and I have no idea who you are or what your game was.

        I was trying to share about the experience and didn't feel that that was important. :)

          This is part of the problem. Get your game name out there. What is it? What's it called? Where can we see it and give you money for it?

          Sell your product or it won't sell.

            I don't disagree with you, but I didnt post with the intention of gaining sales for a game that's out of circulation.

            If you are interested in knowing, our promo campain for the Psm game got us more notice than we initially anticipated. But, as raised in the post mentioned in the article, we have also found that there is no garenteed method of getting noticed.

            You can do all the same things for one project and have it work out great and then gain less traction in your next projects campain, even if you are doing the same (or more than) before.

            I don't think there's a dev out there who wouldn't do everything in their power to market their game, as mentioned in the post in this article as well.

            Last edited 10/09/15 5:36 pm

              You still didn't tell us the game. You said it's on PC? Is it on Steam? Sitting in Greenlight? Do you have a website? If the game is kaput, are you making something else?

              I know you say you do all you can to get it out there and I don't doubt you. But I'm an interested potential customer. I can't be the only one here. A locally produced game from a small team of kotaku readers? Let us know! Use your networks!

              I downloaded and played the alpha of Garry's Mod way back in the day. Some British guy on the Something Awful forums said "Hey, I'm making this mod for HL2. It's sort of starting to work. You guys wanna have a play with it and tell me what you think?" We downloaded it and told him it was totally worth his time. Now he's Garry. Same thing with Yahtzee. He posted links to his youtube stuff and before that he even asked people on the forum to go buy a copy of Hyper because he wrote a story about VR in it. We did. It was a good article. We played his RPG Maker games he was making at home.

              It felt good to be part of that initial little circle of people who talked with them about their stuff. I'd like to think we helped them get their start.

                I really understand that, and your interest is fantastic. I just didn't come here with the intention of selling a game. I've just seen first hand how marketing is a funny beast, even when you are just starting out, trying to build small scale interest like us.

                But seeing as everyone is so interested:
                The first game was 'On Call' for PSM. Like I say, it wasn't much but we were excited with what we were able to achieve in our first attempt and with so little time and no money. We have learned so much since then and are continually grateful for those who remained interested and supportive.

                The second game is still in somewhat early stages of development with the current working title of 'Crater' for short. It's a small little top down adventure game with twin stick elements. I'll try link you right here, presuming that this comment wont get flagged:


                I would be ecstatic if you would like to try the Vertical Slice and offer up some feedback, right on the blog linked would be ok. Feel free to share it around as you see fit.

                In this demo there is:
                - A hub area that is still in development,
                - One enemy type and one mini-boss concept.
                - A side mission in the North East area (Speak to Sitting Shiman)
                - One third of a dungeon in the South West. There are signs here and there to try and help guide you and you can actually explore the unfinished areas on the map as well.
                - A PvP split screen arena mode

                For the time being I would strongly recommend playing with a controller because we are still working on keyboard support and it's very rigid ATM. The game is top down but still 3D and using some modern rendering features like physically based rendering, so it's relatively demanding.

                Last edited 11/09/15 1:27 pm

                  Awesome. I'll download it at home and give it a go. Good luck with it and I'll definitely leave some impressions in the comments on your site.

    People see Minecraft being sold for billions, people see stuff like candy crush being popular as hell, 'hey, I can make a better game than that, I'll be rich'. Not even that, trying to break even on a game is a noble objective to set yourself as an indie developer, but even then you're still facing an uphill task. In the 80s there were bedroom developers but there wasn't a great deal of them. Nowadays there's seemingly thousands of them each making their own game which, let's face it, aren't that different from each other. 2d cel shaded games? Never seen one of them before. How do you make such a game stand out from the (very large, very generic) crowd? The overwhelming odds are that you won't unless you can get on Pewdiepie's Youtube channel.

      The overwhelming odds are that you won't unless you can get on Pewdiepie's Youtube channel.
      Which explains the explosion of tediously-similar jump-scare clones being released, in the hopes that a famous YouTuber will pick it up and explode their playerbase overnight.

        The best one I've seen lately was on Jim Sterling's channel. It just had jpegs of ghosts floating around the (terrible, ugly) level.

        2015 GOTY

    I think everyone can agree that the biggest problem Indie developers face (assuming they have a decent game to begin with) is getting noticed. No point having the best game in the world if no-one knows it's there. This is where indie devs let themselves down.

    They all point to the market and say 'its too crowded" for their game to be found. That's when you ask "well how much marketing did you do on it?"...."uh...marketing...?" How do you think AAA titles are found and played...marketing! Sure they have a huge budget and can plaster ads everywhere but there are other avenues which are a lot cheaper or even free that indie devs can use but quite often don't.

    My main source for finding new games is through a few YouTube channels I watch who commonly do vids on indie games when the devs give them a free copy. No reason why more devs can't approach them.

      Just had a read through the Gamasutra article....turns out they did market it reasonably well, although I saw no mention of contacting popular YouTubers, just media.

      The main problem with this game could be the genre and art style. I can't think of any recent popular 2D platformers off hand. could be because i'm not interested in that genre but I usually at least hear about popular games even if I don't like them personally. The game is also supposed to be difficult but has a very cute art style - looks like it's aimed more at children than anything. First rule of marketing is to catch the attention of your target audience at a glance. Cute doesn't cut it here.

    WAS it good though?

      It got good reviews. Seemed to be at least a solid B+ of a game.

      Unfortunately that's not really enough these days unless there's something for players to really latch onto and love.

    Indie developers are too humble.

    Stop it and start being media whores instead.

    Totalbiscuit had a lot to say about this game and the article: he said the game is good, has some flaws but isn't sure that platforming is the right genre for indie devs because it's over saturated, and that it's hard to make them stand out anymore

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