Has anyone actually made a profit on their FIRST game???

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by David_Don_13, Feb 10, 2015.

  1. David_Don_13

    David_Don_13 Well-Known Member

    Jan 13, 2015
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    Software Engineer
    Ireland
    #1 David_Don_13, Feb 10, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2015
    Hey all,

    My brother and I are currently 6 months into development of our first mobile game. We are both software developers and we decided to develop a mobile game as a way to learn more about Unity 3D.
    However after months of development, our game has become a passion project. We are literally obsessed with coming up with ways to improve the gameplay.
    We have sent a prototype out for testing and so far we have gotten great feedback. We plan on releasing it soon.

    Has anyone here every actually made a PROFIT on their first game release? If so, what monetization model did you use?

    Every developer forum or discussion all say the same thing...'No one makes money on their first game'..

    David | Twitter: @DakidoMedia
     
  2. Blackharon

    Blackharon Well-Known Member

    Mar 15, 2010
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    Game Designer for Ludia
    Canada
    #2 Blackharon, Feb 10, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015
    Nope. Even with great feedback and good reviews

    edit to add: yes, I will have that review permanently bookmarked for all time.
     
  3. David_Don_13

    David_Don_13 Well-Known Member

    Jan 13, 2015
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    Software Engineer
    Ireland
    Hey Blackharon

    I just had a look at your review! Your game looked pretty cool. How long did it take you to develop? Also, was it tough getting it reviewed? How did you set your expectations?

    Haha don't feel guilty, I'd bookmark a review too..even if it was a bad one :)
     
  4. Blackharon

    Blackharon Well-Known Member

    Mar 15, 2010
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    Game Designer for Ludia
    Canada
    It was a long long time ago, so details are fuzzy, times were different on the App Store and anything useful at the time is surely outdated info now.

    Eli picked up Go Native! all on his own, so it wasn't tough to get reviewed at all, I think, at the time, we expected the game to go viral and make millions like Cut the Rope (cause that was the new big thing to compare to). Dev time was >1 year, because we reset and restarted several times.
     
  5. Destined

    Destined Well-Known Member

    Aug 11, 2013
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    I did by getting someone to pay me to make it!

    My first self published game also made a small amount of money(in the hundreds) but clearly didn't cover my costs when I could of made that amount in less than a day of working my normal job.

    The answer to your question is it depends on so many factors. Nobody here knows the right answer for your game. I always want a free version so at least a few hundred download my games so I don't feel like a failure.
     
  6. Stingman

    Stingman Well-Known Member

    Aug 14, 2012
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    The Bay Area
    The first game I ever made cost me about $500 USD + my time to make it. It really depends on how you judge your time to say whether or not you "made money on it". All in all, as of today I've made somewhere around $15-20k off it. I consider that great for it being the first game I ever made. Anything is possible. Just make sure you have a good marketing plan for getting your game out there. And congrats on making your first game!
     
  7. Touchmint

    Touchmint Well-Known Member

    Oct 19, 2011
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    Phoenix
    Took me about 8 months to write the game engine and the actual game for Adventure To Fate. I paid about $100 for some art and sound otherwise I did my own. I did all the programming and most of the testing as well. I think I've made about 7k off it in like 10 months? I quit my day job (as a network engineer) to make it so you could say I took a loss on it haha.

    Luckily I have some non game apps that keep me a float.

    My first nongame app took about 6 months to write but that included learning objective-c and xcode. That's made about 15k so Id say I've some what broke even on that.

    I heard somewhere that most compaines plan on their first few games to be losses bc it takes a while to write the engine and gain a brand following.
     
  8. David_Don_13

    David_Don_13 Well-Known Member

    Jan 13, 2015
    90
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    Software Engineer
    Ireland
    The bug..

    Thank you all for the great feedback! I appreciate all the honesty from you guys.
    I left my position at a multi-national company last year because I've become so obsessed with the idea of developing games. (Most multi-nationals don't let you develop outside of work).
    Since then I got a job with a smaller software company but now I am really struggling to keep that job too because all I can think about is the game I'm making :)
    I spent my days at work looking for marketing ideas, networking advice and inspiration from other games. I've definitely got the development bug! Did ye feel like this too?
    I love the satisfaction you get from handing someone your game and seeing their reaction(when it's a good one!). However satisfaction isn't enough :)
    HOPEFULLY, I can make a profit from my first game. I would need at least 30k before I consider leaving my job and working on games full-time.

    I'll update ye when I launch my game. I plan on releasing in March/ May.

    If anyone has any advice on what they would do differently with their first game I'd really appreciate it :) Or if anyone out there was successful with their first launch could you please share your story :)
     
  9. BazookaTime

    BazookaTime Well-Known Member

    I have never made a profit on any of my games. However, the only game I took a huge lose on was Whack-O-Wrestling, the others were manageable.
     
  10. Blackharon

    Blackharon Well-Known Member

    Mar 15, 2010
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    Game Designer for Ludia
    Canada
    1) Reduce the scope
    2) Validate assumptions by soft launching / beta testing
    3) Reduce the scope
    4) Don't assume "if you build it they would come", set aside marketing money!
    5) Reduce the number of restarts (and the scope!)
    6) Launch early with just enough content, add content later

    Those are my take aways that I'd still advise to newcomers in the industry.
     
  11. David_Don_13

    David_Don_13 Well-Known Member

    Jan 13, 2015
    90
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    Software Engineer
    Ireland
    Marketing money

    Let's say I had 1000 euros for marketing. How would you spend it? What has been most effective for you?
     
  12. Blackharon

    Blackharon Well-Known Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    982
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    16
    Game Designer for Ludia
    Canada
    TBH I don't handle that anymore, it's been a long time. Sorry I can't help you there.
     
  13. mrm83

    mrm83 Well-Known Member

    My first game was actually some prototype i freelanced for a guy. I did create it,, it was a game.. and i did profit from it =p
     
  14. ThumbSnail

    ThumbSnail Well-Known Member

    Jan 13, 2015
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    One-Man Game Developer
    Under a Raincloud
    It's only been 2.5 months since I released my first game ("Super Sevens"), but so far no profit. And to get into the green, all I need to do is make back $108 (developer fees + tax)...

    Things I'd do differently to make a profit:
    0. Release my game only on the Amazon App Store. Since a developer account is free, if you sell just ONE game, your first game is now profitable. =)

    ...Or more serious things to consider:
    1. I had a "good enough" game finished far earlier than when I finally launched. However, like you, my first game turned into a passion project: I kept adding new features, more modes, etc. I learned a lot and ended up with a better game, but since the game was never noticed, it was a lot of unnecessary work that yielded no monetary results. So I'd say go small first, and then add more features later (if it's gained any traction).

    2. I likely made a mistake in selling my first game for $1.99. A better (or so I assume) approach would have been to release it for free with some in-app-purchases to unlock the more interesting features. A free game will at least be downloaded. A (my) paid game gets downloaded by no one.

    3. I personally would have released a separate/different game first for free and saved my passion project for a later launch. I don't know that the free game would have gotten noticed either, but if it caught the attention of even a small crowd, then there'd at least be a target audience potentially interested in the paid app later.

    All of this, of course, may be different for you and your situation. Best of luck!
     
  15. Touchmint

    Touchmint Well-Known Member

    Oct 19, 2011
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    Phoenix
    @david. Do you have any previews of your game or a development website set up? (I'm sure by just looking at it most of us could tell you right away what your level of success will be).

    To make 30k on your first indie game that only took you 6 months to make is going to be very very hard. You are going to need to go viral and get featured by apple and even those might not be enough. Maybe 4-5 years ago you would have a chance at this organically but not anymore.
     
  16. Stroffolino

    Stroffolino Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2009
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    Software Engineer
    Pennsylvania
    #16 Stroffolino, Feb 12, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2015
    I made (and still make) a nice chunk of change on my first app.
    On later apps, not so much.

    The bar is higher today than it's ever been. Less than 1% of apps make over half the AppStore revenue. The profitability tail drops off to almost nothing - as expected: an app that is invisible won't get downloaded.

    You're competing (on charts) for attention with existing, established apps. And you're competing (for New & Noteworthy) with an endless surge of new cool apps, many with high production values and social marketing driving their launches.

    It's a great and fun hobby - I'd be writing games with or without the the AppStore ecosystem. But most folk that plan to make a career of it are going to end up disappointed.
     
  17. YoloChase

    YoloChase Member

    Nov 14, 2014
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    "Has anyone actually made a profit on their FIRST game???"

    Nope. The app stores have a serious problem of clutter. If you're not lucky enough to get featured and you don't have the big bucks for advertising your shoot out of luck. Imagine if Walmart never cleared it's shelves of stock that doesn't sell and stuff just accumulated year after year then you'd have the Apple and Android app stores.

    There might be a torrent of apps hitting the stores but I'm not sure how it's sustainable for developers that need to eat and have anything resembling a decent income. So we end up with app store charts dominated by the entrenched billion dollar companies and 99.9999% of the rest of the apps made by hobbyists learning to make games.
     
  18. David_Don_13

    David_Don_13 Well-Known Member

    Jan 13, 2015
    90
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    Software Engineer
    Ireland
    Lowering Expectations

    @touchmint I still have everything private. I'm in the middle of developing a website for the app as well as a promotional video. I'm going to post it in the upcoming games section of this forum next month and I'll let you know!
    I'm really nervous about potential clones so I'm trying to keep things under wraps for as long as possible. I know I'm being too paranoid but I've read too many horror stories :)

    I appreciate all of the advice and useful info. It's definitely disappointing to hear about so many failed launch stories. I don't have a marketing budget so my plan consists of begging friends and family members to download it :)
    I'm from Ireland and it only takes roughly 4000 daily downloads to reach number 1 app in iOS store here.
    My goal is to break into the TOP 10 arcade games charts in Ireland and then brag to my friends ;)

    Looks like I won't quit the day job just yet :D

    Thanks again guys, and if there is just ONE person who made a healthy profit (10k+) could you share your story? :)

    If anyone wants to get in touch my gaming twitter handle is @DakidoGaming
     
  19. Rogue

    Rogue Well-Known Member

    Feb 9, 2011
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    Games Developer
    Brisbane, Australia
    I grabbed go Native when it came out. I also got Pickpawcket. I am actually curious how Pickpawcket did? I thought it was great.
     
  20. 1stSPIN

    1stSPIN Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2014
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    Own 1stSPIN
    China / Canadian
    If you have one of the best game out there the secret is to get the downloads you need to rise on the charts. The companies that have successful games can piggy back those games to promote new games to make them a success reducing their cost of downloads to $0.00 and more important they are hitting the followers of their brand which is a big plus. You can try to partner with one of these companies and if there is a marriage your game will make money in big numbers and you will have your first success. If you want to go it alone you can try to luck out and toss your game into the ever growing pool and hope your floats to the top. You may have more luck buying a lottery ticket because there are more millionaires made every week worldwide from the lotteries than there are from new game talent getting recognized. To speed up the process you will need a good advertising budget and a very good ad. I would suggest testing your ad with small amounts of money to see if you are on the right track. Apple will give you a bit of help when your game is launch by giving you enough exposure to get a few 100 players and this puts your line into the water and it is free. Going viral may only take a few of the right people playing but I would suggest trying to get 10,000 to 100,000 downloads within a week or 2 to really give your game a chance. Then if it is great you will make money once it starts going viral. If you don’t have the money to buy the ads trying advertising for investors and have a good return on investment to get them to invest and a way that their investment plus profit once returned does not mean they will have a hook into you for the rest of your life.
     

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