Recently a friend to whom I was complaining about my ineptitude to apply for public funds to finance my VR dev aspirations asked me the simplest question: How much revenue are you expecting from your game? Realizing I hadn’t the slittiest clue I completely froze… after some pause… I answered: I don’t own enough data yet to answer that. To which he retorted: Well my friend, that’s the most important data you should own.
Now, thinking to myself, how can I possibly know how much money will my game make? So far, the picture couldn’t be grimmer:
1. I never launched a game before
Although in the past I had a brief incursion as an illustrator for a couple of games, this is my first serious solo venture in game making ever. Nobody knows about my existence in the VR scene less alone in the game development community.
2. I’ve done next to zero marketing
On the rare occasions where I’ve been able to muster some time to promote the game, I completely backed the wrong horses: a Facebook page, a GameJolt page, a Cardboard & VR Developers group in Google+ (which is about to go the way of the dodo). I had to completely stop its development for a year. I have an Alpha Release available on Google’s PlayStore for a year now, it is installed in 11 active devices, 10 of those are friends that I directly asked to install the game so I could run some tests.
3. The game is free
The plan is for the game to follow a freemium revenue model, the game will be free to play but will have in-app purchases. So, without a meaningful community downloading and playing my game on a daily basis, how can I possibly know if the game will ever make a dime? The short answer is: I can’t. I simply haven’t reached a stage of the game’s development and promotion to access any relevant insight into the richness that awaits me at the end of this game’s journey.
But, on the other hand, I could look into what kind of numbers are being generated by other games of the same genre.
This game was backed by PSVR, so, it’s safe to assume that the development costs were covered by Sony. In June 2014 there was a simple prototype being shown by its creator, Ben Throop, at Boston VR Bender Game Jam and the game was launched as a PSVR exclusive in October 2016. At Road To VR you can read about PlayStation VR having sold more than 3 million units, and this game, with a price of €19.99, still seems to be one of the best sellers and a favorite among PSVR users. In August 2017 the game was launched on Steam’s store for Oculus and Vive also at €19.99. Roughly a year after that, there was a Steam data leak and the Reddit user u/MulleDK19 compiled a list where you can see that Headmaster sold at least 752 units, which is not that great, but none the less, we are talking about €15 000 on top of a game that had it’s development costs covered and already generated for sure enough money to bankroll its developer and publisher Frame Interactive‘s next venture for the next three to four years. Even if only 1/10 of the PSVR users bought the game, we are talking about 6 million euros in sales.
Although I haven’t had the chance to play this game, judging from Youtube’s game plays, this one is my favorite. It’s well executed, it’s funny, has a diverse content and has a game atmosphere a la Portal 2.
This game is also available on Steam’s store for €19.99 and judging from the same data leak, it has already sold 8544 units which translates to roughly 170 thousand euros in sales. It’s also a very complete and well-executed game. As for its atmosphere, it seems to provide quite an impressive soccer simulation experience. Congratulations to Ivanovich Games for completely nailing this genre in a realistic approach.
Also on Steam, this game is being sold for €3.99 and the sales figures point to only 290 units sold which means €1157 in sales. Personally, I wasn’t expecting these numbers to be so low for this title. Back in June of 2017 when I was commissioned to make a simple Soccer Ball Header (the previous incarnation of GhoulkeeperVR) I remember finding Hat Trick Header and showing it to my client as a good example of this type of a more “realistic” approach instead of something more tongue-in-cheek like Headmaster (although I’m much more inclined to stay away from depicting “realistic” VR experiences, you have the real world for that and you don’t need VR). Hat Trick Header sure seems to be a shorter experience than Headmaster or Final Soccer VR and probably that’s why it is being sold for €3.99, but none the less, from what I can see, it looks well executed and polished and it’s a pitty NoPact Games aren’t selling more units of this game.
PlayStore’s top Soccer Ball Headers
I’m not going to bad mouth any specific titles from my fellow game developers but truth be told, I tried all the top Soccer Ball Headers at Google’s PlayStore and none of them satisfied me as a gamer. They were clunky, poorly executed and lacked overall polish. But on one thing I will give them kudos for sure, the minimum downloads you will find on those titles are +10 000. If my game ever gets that amount of downloads it will sure feel like a victory in itself.
Oculus Gear VR store
Similarly to Google’s PlayStore titles, for my cup of tea, I can’t find one worth being mentioned because all of them look like unfinished prototypes. As for the number of downloads, I guess that info is not disclosed to the public. The only numbers you can extract from the store is the rating data: the number of ratings and the rating percentiles. You will find among a few titles, that one title has more than +700 ratings and another has +300 which by itself will not give much insight into what type of success they achieved. Last time I checked Oculus Gear VR has by far the biggest mobile VR user base, so in my opinion, if you have a mobile VR game, the Oculus Gear VR platform should be your first bet.
From my point of view, sitting here in my den, next to my old 2009 Mac Mini, cheap VR goggles and my trusty Galaxy 6, the future doesn’t seem that bright. Although the overall picture may look pretty grim in terms of my game ever doing enough money to cover its development costs plus providing me enough to keep me working as an independent game developer, the game sure has some points in its favor:
- Even at its early stage of development it already looks good and feels quite polished 😎;
- It has a Cyberpunk/Fantasy theme 😛;
- You can play against goalkeeper monsters (the otherworldly ghoulkeepers)👹;
- And most important, its gameplay will be built on top of competition events with lots of tournaments with big money prizes💰;