Steam Launch Diary #3: Hope vs. Severe Demotivation

Missile Cards is OUT NOW on steam. Only $4.99! – If you want to support my ongoing gamedev efforts this year, grabbing a copy during this critical launch month means a lot! Thanks!

newstaemOK. It’s officially been a full week of launch month for my new retro strategy card game, Missile Cards. Let’s break down where things are at, yeah?

Total Steam sales during launch week: 164

# of Sales needed to hit my break even point for development: 5,000

Current motivation level: Bleh.

It’s super difficult to stay motivated to push towards your goals, especially when all of your hustle and time/energy produces crap results. This is where I’m at, right now, and it’s frustrating at hell. My brain is saying “cut your losses, you’ve got other stuff to work on, people aren’t buying this on Steam, focus on other things besides trying to get people to buy something they don’t want.”

My brain is also sometimes garbage.

I realize at this point, with no real press coverage beyond the first day of launch, minimal YouTube/Streamer love so far, and no budget to throw into marketing, that it’s going to be a herculean effort to squeeze enough sales from this thing to hit the break even point in a month.

I don’t have the energy to push 4,000% all month to try to get a few extra sales. But I sure as hell could use them. So…I’ll keep on keeping on best I can this month. 5,000 copies by May 7th seems impossible at this point, barring some miracle.

I’ll take 1,000 sales, but even that seems unlikely without something amazing happening.

So…I keep trucking along, sale-by-sale. A few thoughts, before I go do something else because I can’t muster the energy to think about this much more right now:

Interesting observations from the Steam launch so far:

  1. Wishlists does not equal epic sales. People seem to be interested in the game, but rather than just buy it, they’ve wishlisted it. That’s useful, as they’ll get notified when the game goes on sale, but that doesn’t help me right now.
  2. Reviews have been super positive. I’m surprised that people who’ve bought the game seem to be enjoying at much as they are. That’s…really encouraging at least. Also, though, it’s sort of frustrating to have made a game that players seem to be really enthusiastic about, but that just isn’t selling. Sigh.
  3. People keep telling me they want to play Missile Cards on their phones. A mobile version of Missile Cards would be great, yeah. It’s something I plan to do. AFTER I do the best I can on Steam this month. A mobile port is going to take some extra work, and frankly, I plan on doing it…but I’m tapped out right now – both mentally and in terms of cash flow.

How Can I Salvage This Thing? Bundles? Mobile?

The apparently high interest in a mobile version is promising. Given the genre, and the smaller niche for card games on Steam, I suspected that the PC version might not do as well as a mobile edition, as the game seems very suited to on-the-go play. I had hoped it would do better than it has on Steam, but this seems to give weight to my suspicions.

Will an iOS (and possibly Android) version of Missile Cards be an entirely different result and blow my piddly Steam sales out of the water? I think it’s possible, given this is the #1 thing people have been asking me about the game.

Mobile games press outlets seems much more inclined to cover weird/indie games, which is an interesting thing I’ve noticed. That could help things. But will mobile players balk at a premium tag? Will it help or hinder PC sales? So many questions.

It’s going to take some work to adapt some of the behind-the-scenes stuff to work with mobile, and unless the GameMaker -> iOS export process has been improved or simplified since I went through the month of hell trying to get Go To Bed on the the App Store, I imagine I have a bit of a technical gauntlet ahead of me to make it happen.

I’ve also been contacted about having the game in some bundles. That, depressingly, is probably what is going to ultimately salvage the Steam version for me, income-wise, but I’m not going to put the game on sale or throw it in a bundle until later this year. $5 is not a lot to pay for a game, and I feel strongly that what I’ve build in Missile Cards is worth that much at least.

Anyhow. I’m taking a slight breather this weekend to chip away at the TBIAD sequel, Deathwell, which I’m prototyping in Unity with Fungus. So far, so good. Getting back to working on dark narrative-driven horror RPG stuff has been a pleasant distraction from Missile Cards’ launch week flop.

I know it sounds like I’ve given up. I haven’t. Just taking a step back to try to get my head straight. I could still very much use your help/support with launch month!

3 WAYS TO HELP BOOST LAUNCH TODAY!

  1. Buy the gameEvery single sale counts during this launch period! Seriously!
  2. Leave a Steam review – If you’re enjoying the game, please also take a second to leave a short Steam review as soon as you can! That makes a HUGE difference. Most players don’t take the time to leave them, or they often only do if they don’t like the game.
  3. Tell a friend / Share on social media – I’m doing all of my own DIY marketing, so every little bit of help getting the word out means a lot! Have a pal that likes retro pixel art or strategy card games? Maybe pass the link along! And I always appreciate signal boosting or Twitter/social media support.

Thanks so much! I’ll be blogging about the game and my progress on the “Quest to 5,000” throughout the month at www.nathanmeunier.com.

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