Defining Financial Success (aka MMOOONNEEEYYY)

The last two weeks I’ve been working non-stop on getting PR stuff together for the announcement of the game’s release date, and trying to raise some hype before launch (you thought I got a vacation, huh? Maybe later!) You’ll see the results of that soon, so let’s talk money instead!

This week I was asked if I had a sales target for Bleed 2, which is a very important consideration (if I don’t have target numbers, how will I know if the game’s a financial success?) I think the person who asked assumed that I approached the making of Bleed 2 with a business mindset — analyzing sales trends of the original, deciding how long and how much I could spend on the sequel based on weighing the numbers and potential purchases, etc etc etc. (If you’re a business person, and that sounds like a child’s cartoon version of what would actually go into planning something like this, it’s because I have no idea, haha.)

So as you can probably tell, the considerations that went into making Bleed 2 were more like this:

  • The first one sold well! Maybe people would like a second one!
  • I’m still REALLY passionate about the game I made, and have lots of ideas how to expand and improve it!

…and then I started working. I’m not saying this is a SMART way to make games (actually it’s super dumb from a business perspective) but it’s what I did. So, to find my target sales numbers, I have to look at what I’ve already spent on the game, and work backwards from there!

So, here are my Bleed 2 expenses so far. The chart represents $42,000 USD. Yikes!!

Obviously the size of the pieces aren’t accurate — sharing how much I’m paying people feels inappropriate. (Why did I make a pie chart, then? It’s for dramatic effect, okay?? Just hold on a second!!) Things that may be unclear include ‘Advertising’ which is how I categorize exhibitions, and ‘Misc’ in which I lump collaborations that didn’t work out (but still had to be paid) and my occasionally paying to work in a collaborative space. It’s a LOT of money already, but thankfully Bleed did pretty well, so I could manage it…

…except for one glaring thing the chart is missing.

The missing element is: paying myself. (I told you this would be dramatic!!)

When you include the amount of work I’ve put in, the total costs for Bleed 2 come to $242,000. Damn.

Yes, I’m saying I’ve spent (at least) $200,000 USD of my time working on this game. Where am I pulling that number from? Well, Gamasutra does salary surveys of various game development positions. The latest one I could find is from 2014, but check it out:

I’m arbitrarily picking $50,000 as my own potential salary, which falls short of the lowest average. I’ve been working on this game for about 4 years now, so $200,000 is what you get. Obviously (sadly) I’m not actually paying myself, or I’d be out of a job, but it tells me the numbers I need to hit for this to have been “worth my time” financially.

How many copies does that translate into? Well, I believe I’m going to charge $10 for Bleed 2. But, you have to factor in taxes, Steam taking their cut, and maybe even launch discounts, since launches are (as far as I know) when games make a healthy percentage of their revenue. So let’s say, in the end, I make about $5 for every full-price (or near-full-price) copy of the game that gets sold.

That means I need to sell:

  • 8,500 total copies to cover the expenses I actually paid
  • 48,000 total copies for it to have been financially “worth my time”

The first goal: maaayyyybe — hopefully? I’ll personally be happy if the game sells this much. The second: I dunno about that one — honestly, I’m hoping for the best and preparing for the worst!

If this is giving you a headache (I know I feel one coming) please keep in mind that “financial success” is only one definition of “success”. Don’t get me wrong, I want the game to be financially successful (GIMME UR MONYYY) but I’m in a privileged enough position that I won’t be destitute if it fails (and in my opinion it would be foolish to risk that much on making a game, no matter how much I believed in it.)

All I’m trying to say is: if this post makes you worried about me, or the game — don’t be! I’m already RIDICULOUSLY proud of everything I, Joonas and Jukio have accomplished. No matter how much it does or doesn’t make, it’s a resounding personal victory and exactly what I wanted to create. All I hope now is that enough people want to play it that I can create more in the future!