50 k words gamebooks


Greetings, guys!

I really would love to hear your opinion one a subject. I know most CoG / Hosted Games gamebooks tend to be larger than 50 k words. But, honestly, is there anything wrong with a shorter work, especially if it comes at a lower per word price. For example, if a 120 k word gamebook costs 2.5 or 3, a 50 k word writing could be $ 1.

I am under the impression that many reader complain about gamebook apps being too short no matter how long it is (well, I guess nobody did that with Tin Star).

I am asking that I am not a very productive writer and dealing with a 100 k word work seems to take ages and burnout appears as a problem as well.

All these questions come from my anticipation for the 50 k word Path of Light to hit the market and the temptation to make the next gamebook I am writing that short.


I am sorry, I didn’t post in the right section and I am not quite sure how to move it.


You can ask a moderator to change it: @CJW.

Also, Choice of the Dragon and Choice of Broadsides were like 30K and 40K respectively, and they were awesome. So I think it all depends on the story, and if you can find a balance between good replay ability and a decent length for the first play through.

On another note, I’d say that a 120k HG would go for $1.99, and a CoG of the same length would go for $2.99.

But, just as a bit of advice, I think it’s best to write gamebooks of at least 85k, as your price is then $1.99 (for a HG. A Cog would be $2.99), which is double the price of a 50k gamebook, for only 35k more words. Plus, if the price is $1.99+ it gets published on all four platforms, whereas gamebooks going for $0.99 don’t go on Google Chrome.


Just my two cents. I think a lot of folks get too ambitious and aim for 100k to 120k words and flame out, hence all the WIPs that have died or disappeared. I think doing a 50k book is a good idea if you accept the fact that you’ll be getting a princely sum of 17 cents per sale. At least you would have finished one!


People won’t complain if it’s too short when the storyline is great


I wouldn’t say that xD but they’ll complain less about it.


@Samuel_H_Young - I think Life of a Wizard is $ 3 and the description says that it is 120 k words.

I am just curious, are there other factors determining price? For example, in TotDH there is a lot of art and even a soundtrack.


@Mayday Just a wild guess, but from what I’ve read here & elsewhere, many of its fans seem to feel that Life of a Wizard has distinctly above-average replay value. It’s entirely possible this factor has been - and quite rightly, if so - figured into the actual pricing of it (although whether it has always been that price, or was later increased accordingly, I cannot say - perhaps someone, or even @Lucid himself, could enlighten us?).

On the wider issue, I’d be inclined to agree with @HornHeadFan that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the idea of a 50k book for (a piffling) $1. It would especially suit fast-paced short stories for such as the mystery genre, or similar. In particular, perhaps if we had more of these, certain readers would be less inclined to slam longer works as “too short” for their $2 / $3 price tag…


I don’t think that music or illustrations are factors when deciding the price.


@ Vendetta

Life of a Wizard is 143128 words. I’m not sure how they calculated word count, but I do have some coder comments in it, so they might have trimmed the number back a bit to make it more representative. :slight_smile:

It started at $2, and after a few months, raised to $3. I think that it was a surprise for the COG folks. I didn’t follow the rules and made something different. :slight_smile: Luckily for me, people enjoy it.

I don’t think that word count is a direct connection to price. I can spend hours coding a section that can make the game much better and actually end up lowering my word count at times. :slight_smile: That said, word count is an easy check to see how big it is and if it should qualify as a “full length game”.

Paradox Factor was 26935 words, but I made it in a month, so I put a $1 price tag on it. Funny thing is, nobody has complained about its length. Again, I broke the rules for how it presented itself, making it a riddle/puzzle, instead of a traditional story, so I suspect that a reader would be hard pressed to guess the word count. :slight_smile:

Life of a Mobster is 151223 words and I started it November 1st with NaNoWriMo. I haven’t talked price with COG yet, but I’m assuming it’ll be $3, like Life of a Wizard.


Wow: $1 for 27K…you’ve got the best deal yet :).


@Lucid Thanks for sharing these numbers. It is nice to know that there are short gamebooks that are doing fine :).

Another important variable is linearity. A more linear game may feel bigger as the reader actually goes through a larger part of it. A less linear game, on the other side, would have a higher replay value. Often it comes down to whether you want to put situation one after the other or make them mutually exclusive.



I was kind of surprised when I did the word count on it. Although, the way it was set up, it was a tricky 27k to write. :slight_smile:


Yeah, I bet :stuck_out_tongue:


@Lucid Thanks for the share. Fascinating stuff. :slight_smile:

@Mayday A very good point. Finding the right balance might be the closest thing Choice Game developers have to a ‘Holy Grail’. :smiley:


I will agree with most here, as a dedicated fan I never complained about the length of the game, any game. Quality of the game like story/replay value matter more. Some games suck so bad that it doesn’t matter if they are 50k or 1ml words they just suck. So concentrate on the story and quality of writing rather on the word count. Actually you may end up making more money with a great story but shorter if you can make it a series.


“Actually you may end up making more money with a great story but shorter if you can make it a series.”

That’s my plan :stuck_out_tongue: the shorter it is, the more money you get for the word count.


I also thank @Lucid for sharing that info. It was very helpful.

I still think 50k word games giving the reader an hour or so of fun would be a gold business model for many writers.

I also wonder whether it would make business sense for folks doing series to release a free 20k word (minimum to ger released, I think) story featuring some of their characters to entice more readers to buy the others in the set.

For example, I am contemplating writing a free 20k word “winter break adventure” that would take place between parts I and II but that wouldn’t spoil much/anything of the original story. Just a light little adventure with 2 or 3 of the characters appearing in the other parts.


Even when it’s free, people expect it to be Tin Star sized :stuck_out_tongue:


I have published a free gamebook app via another developer (I am not sure if it would be right to say which) that is 10 000 words. It is amazing how many people commented ‘nice but too short’ and gave me 3 or 4 stars out of 5.