Length of game influences buying?

Thanks for the regular reminder, Mara. :sweat_smile:


I’ve never played Demon Hunter. I’d argue also that that seems to be a WIP and not a finished product.

Off topic: was it good by chance?

Trial of the Demon Hunter was published in 2014.


yeah that was way before my time. I only got onto the scene late '16

Yes, and not only because Samuel is here. You have a boggard companion really cute figt about vampires and witches claim monsters price. But it has verbose even if far least the first data

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That’s too kind/unkind (depending on whether you think said trend is awesome or destroying the economic viability of CoG writing). As this thread points out, Rebels arrived in a late-2017 cluster of games that all blew through the 600,000 word mark. The first was Choice of the Cat, which is I believe longer than Rebels due to more efficient coding. Tally Ho came out shortly after.

Rebels I believe sold the most of those three because it’s in a clearly identifiable, commercially popular genre, which boosted its prospects more than word count or writing quality did. (The prose quality of the other two games is for my money higher than Rebels, as is their character development.) I also think it helped that I wrote it on the forums and built up a dedicated fan base that bought/recommended it in large numbers from day one…but until another CoG author does the same it’ll be hard to say for sure how much that moved the needle.

It’d be interesting to see how Magics does relative to Robots (if @kgold is ever happy to share) and whether its higher word count brings a corresponding bump in sales…

Also worth noting that in this case authors don’t choose the price point–the publisher does. Rebels cost a lot not because I had more chutzpah than the average writer but because CoG was betting it would find a big audience at that price.


At the very least, Robots has a practically unbeatable rating on Android.


Generally if a game is under 100k words in length I usually don’t read them unless the topic is something I’m super into. Opposite of the side is true for me too i.e. if a game is over 200k-300k then I usually do a full play through, regardless of what the topic is. For me personally I want to invest myself in something that will take a considerable amount of time or on something I know I’m gonna enjoy (topic).


Choice of Cat struck me as a bit childish and Tally Ho did not sit well with me. Also I’m pretty sure Choice of Rebels came out before Cat did. If not, then you have a good point about the target audience and how well it did comparatively speaking.

For me, that was the first game that officially spoiled me to the large word count. Also I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “efficient coding”. I’d need you to explain that a bit better.

I disagree with that sentiment in that it sounds like the word count had nothing to do with interest. I’d argue against it for myself personally. I remember specifically buying it because of the word count. Keep in mind that I had personally gotten this before buying The Lost Heir series. While certainly the genre was a pool, it was definitely the word count that made me “pull out my wallet”

Again, and no offense intended here but, I had no idea about any of that before I made my purchase. While again I’m sure that helped somewhat, the reality is that this forum accounts for a lot less of the total buyers than you’d like to believe. Personally I’d argue that number makes up 20% at most with 10-12% being realistically the case. This is why some of the games that likely get looked at positively on this forum for its progrssive decisions get torn apart in the ratings section.

That is a fair point. I’d imagine it would do comparatively. I personally was very hesitant to get Magics because the art looked very amateurish (no offense. Just giving honest feedback) but decided to go into it because of, and you guessed it, the word count. Again, that was the only reason I bought the game.

Oh wow. Are you the author of Rebels? If so, I maintain that your game, as I have rated in the ratings section, has established the new standard for CoGames.

As for the price point, I don’t know how that works so I can’t speak to it. What I can speak to is that:

  1. I saw Rebels’ word count
  2. Downloaded the game
  3. Saw the price point
  4. Decided that the value I’d get justified the price point
  5. Made the purchase

If either the author or the publisher feel an $10 product can only be sold at $5, you can’t blame the customer since I’m only paying what you sell it as. In fact, I’d argue by you (the author) allowing your product to be lowballed, you are screwing yourself as I (the customer) will equate that level of quality to that price point and if one day you DO decide to sell it for higher, I will then feel justified at being upset as, from my perspective, you’ve now over valued it in relation to it’s original cost.

To make it clear for anyone: If Rebels had been sold for $10 as opposed to the $7 I believe I paid for it, at least for me, that wouldn’t have mattered as i would have paid for it regardless. Fast forward 1 year, if you came around and sold that same game to me for $9, because YOU’VE previously told me that it “should cost $7”, I will feel like I’m being ripped off.

So we can get some more insight into this “hourly pay” discussion, how long does it take all you other authors to write 1k words? It takes me roughly an hour but it seems @adrao and @Eric_Moser take several hours to write the same amount of words.

It would be interesting to see who’s the outlier here, and it would also drastically effect how the individual authors might view their profits from CoGs and HGs.

It takes me an hour as well to write a thousand words.


But is that really what you’ll be getting? There are some long HG games that are not better in terms of story, text flow, bugs and editing quality than shorter games on the list so it doesn’t always follow that short = mediocre, long = good. (There are good long games and short mediocre ones and vice versa.) There’s also the point that Mary brought up earlier that coding efficiency also plays into this a lot. Just because one game has a higher word count listed than another, doesn’t actually mean it is longer. (I’ve got 2 games around 100k and the one I’ve just finished would be longer for unique passages than the one I wrote a few years ago because my coding has improved.)

Having an author debug and edit 500k words of game is a tough ask for some even with the help of a group of really good beta testers simply due to how much ground there is to cover to catch everything that could be improved. Addtionally, as games get longer, they tend to take longer to finish and are more likely to end up as long term unfinished WIPs (or not finished at all), so it wont’ be a simple halving of games being produced by any one author. It’d likely be more like a quarter to a third IMO.

Just to show my point here, look up The Aether It’s only 60,000 words and has over 1400 reviews with a 4.1 rating and 100k+ installs. There are games that are far longer that have not reached this mark. I think it does show that interesting well written shorter games do have the potential be popular ones, it’s not just forum opinion.

If I’m on a roll (and not being stuck on a section which happens), I can write more than 1k an hour at times, however once I factor in all the time I spend proof reading, re-editing/re-writing sections and bug fixing to the point I’m ok with it being published (not to mention time research when I’m trying to tie things in historically which isn’t applicable for all games) I suspect it wouldn’t be too far off what adrao and Eric_Moser are saying (it might even work out to be less.)


Here are some of the longer games I didn’t like:
Choice of Cats: I realized while playing it that roleplaying animals just isn’t for me.
Magikiras: I think before including characters from other countries not so familiar for the author he should have consulted with people who know more about those countries. For me as a Hungarian that Balogh character was kinda annoying to read. Maybe I’m just nitpicking but it was obvious that the author just translated a word to Hungarian and used it in a way an english speaker would do it. Would he have asked someone who speaks Hungarian they could have recommended other expressions which would have worked better. Now idk if the same issue was there when he used other languages.
I, Cyborg: I don’t even know. Maybe it was just different from what I expected and spent so much time waiting for.
But none of this is an issue of the game actually being poorly written as opposed to some of the shorter games so I guess that means something.

It depends. If I have a solid outline, I can do about 1000 words an hour. However, if I’m trying to make a scene different (for a visual novel), then it could take 2-4 hours trying to make it somewhat different.

It can also vary if I’m doing some writing for another company. Pen and paper rpgs will often require rewrites, or even removal of whole sections/new ones if they don’t care for it in the early stages.


I do usually look for a word count before buying a game but that’s just to let me know how long a play through will be. The game description matters the most to me. The word count itself doesn’t affect my choice to buy the game but I might be more inclined to buy a 200k word game for $5 than a 100k word game for $5. For games with less than 70k words, I usually avoid them since they feel more like demos than full games most times.

I can write (and often do) 1000 words in an hour (earlier typo was funny, would be great to wire 1000k/he!). But then I have to re-read it. Then, debug it. The thoughts of testers have to be incorporated. Posts by testers have to be replied to (just to make it really clear, I really enjoy all of this!). Continuity errors solved. Then at the end I have to re-read the entire game (code and all). Plus, along the line I typically also play the game a few times myself. Thus, it’s not really the writing itself Eric and I are talking about, but the entire sun of all time put into each project. If you measure it we both seem to come to 3-4 hrs per 1000 words (sometimes it’s difficult to even quantify… Should the time I spent writing this very pretty be included? I’m enjoying this thread and all the opinions in it, learning a lot, but it’s still not time spent doing sports, or with family and friends… Blurred concepts of hobby/work/leisure… But… I digress!)


I can pump out 1k an hour if I’m working off a chapter outline or something that I’ve written beforehand, which is usually something I’ll do in the gym in between sets. I’m a bit of a bozo though so proof-reading and re-writes for grammar or general flow can take me much longer

I’ll buy most CoGs and HGs that come out, cos I want to support the company and the people who put time into producing content for it, but my preferred word-count is generally over 100k, including code


That is a fair point. I would argue that in this game you literally are playing God (the most powerful of power fantasies) so that concept wins regardless of the word count. More so, I would say the rating is teetering on the 4.1 marker and that’s primarily to do the fact that it’s so short. To be clear, of the first 5 reviews, only 1 doesn’t outright comment that it is too short (though the wording is suspect). Of those 5 reviews only 2 were perfect scores and 1 person gave it 3 out of 5, saying the amount of substance in the game wasn’t enough to warrant the $4 sticker price.

That shows that even interesting “eye catching” story concepts aren’t good enough on their own to guarantee a happy customer. I personally wasn’t a fan of Aether personally though that had to do with other factors with it.

To be perfectly clear, I’m not saying a shorter game won’t do well. What I’m saying is that the times where short games are the norm and a game of over 100k being seen as “large” are long gone.

While certainly long doesn’t automatically mean good, there is just a higher chance that it will. Like anything, I am making a gamble with my money and a longer game has higher odds of “paying” off, especially if the idea isn’t immediately interesting or I am unfamiliar with the author’s work. A perfect example of this is the recent Broadside game. I only played it because the author (the Infinity series) is amazing. The word count mattered less in that instance because, to me, the author had already “built up his cred”. If it was some unknown who made that exact same product, I wouldn’t have bought it and likely wouldn’t have even bothered downloading it. Now, you can say that’s harsh, but it is also reality.

That might be very well true. Personally that is why I always shoot for games that are in the 200k + realm. That way, even accounting for “bloated coding”, it’s still going to be a longer playthrough.

Honestly it really boils down to the simple fact that a longer word count means I’ll spend a longer time in the game. The longer I spend in the game, the more invested I am in the game. The more invested, the more I am enjoying myself. A perfect example of this is in the 700k WIP, “Breach”. The longer I played the game, the more I was enraptured into the story to the point where I was dreading each page since I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it and didn’t know when it would stop. It was an awesome game and one of the reasons is because it had space to breathe as well as suck me in via its large word count.

I’ll just say this, and I DO mean this with all respect. I’m currently about to embark on my own WIP, so please believe me that I have a small and growing reality on what you are saying… It is irrelevant to the customer what the author has to go through to put the product on the table. No job is easy and no job is simple. It’s not easy making 100 cold calls to random strangers to buy a product, it’s not easy running 10 miles a day, it’s not easy making political descions that could potentially put us in a world war. No job is easy. If you expect the customer to lower their expectations because it’s difficult, you aren’t being realistic. Again, I have seen some of the nightmare that is coding and it looks like hell, so much that I am a little afraid of even doing it. However that’s not on you. It’s on me and me saying that this deserves to be this price considering the hell I went through to make this.

I feel like the biggest issue that would make everyone “happy” is to raise their prices and trust that people who want to buy it will buy it at the increased price.

And if you juxtapose it with Vampire House or Aether where there are obvious lack of player agency, it becomes clear the issue some shorter games have. Sidenote while I liked I,Cyborg, I agree with your logic for Cats. It similarly gave me the exact same vibe.


I suppose, then, that whether or not a CoG is economical not only has to do with whether it sells well, but also (perhaps even more importantly) how the author allocated their time creating the story. If a 250k word game earns $13,000 in a year and took around 325 hours for the author to make, (like it might for authors like myself or @gower who write at relatively quick paces) that’s actually quite good. If that same game took the author 1500 hours to make, that’s another story entirely.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Every author works differently, and I don’t want to say that any certain way is correct. All I’m saying is that I don’t want everyone to think that writing these games is actually economically non-viable as some would make it seem. A single successful HG can’t replace a full time minimum wage job as far as total funds go, but that’s because no one is writing HGs 40 hours a week, every week. :wink: (For me, at least, I write my stories for about 10 hours a week, on average.)


I agree, genre definitely makes a difference. In many ways I’d say it seems to outweigh word count in importance. There’s a lot of contributing factors. There are short games that haven’t done well which actually had more to do with execution than length. If you have a game that is highly railroaded, you’ll have the same complaints whether it’s 30,000 or 100,000 words. Comedy is another genre which is hard for choice games. There’s a lot of variation in people’s sense of humour and they can be hit and miss on the stores for that reason. I also write short interactive stories and like them, so my feelings on length are probably skewed that way as well where I can enjoy very long and very short games as long as they appeal to me.

I actually really liked Aether, it was one of my favs this year. Like everything though personal preference for topics and writing style are going to influence what you like to read :slight_smile: .

Yeah, but you can see the same on games twice that size as well. I’m even starting to see too short comments on games upwards of 150k. But yes, that probably has affected the rating. I’d also say that anything from 4* and above would class as a good store rating for google so it’s definitely not doing badly in the ratings department!

I agree with that.

But I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that. I’d rather read something that’s been tightly edited to a lower word count ans moves quickly keeping my attention, rather than one that has a lot of unconnected or filler scenes to bump up the word count simply because it’s expected to be a longer length. (I’m not saying long games are all like this, of course they aren’t, but the danger is that if it’s seen that anything under 200k is bad, I suspect you’re going to end up with games containing filler scenes in to make the counts higher, rather than the game taking how ever many words it needs to be finished :slight_smile: .)

Just on that, at the moment in my currency Fallen hero which is 320k words more than Aether is only $1.50 more to buy ($4 to 5.50). If an author was trying to make a living out of making these games, think about that for a moment. I'm sure COG knows what they're doing with the pricing as they have all the info for sales and downloads. There's probably a threshold amount over which people start to become reluctant to buy games I’d imagine. A lot of HG authors are writing these primarily because they like to. (I’m one of them). I could earn more working extra hours at my job (and being a student that’s actually important as I need money to live on), but being able to get some money back for my time does give me the justification to put time aside and spend extra time trying to get the game as good as I can and adding extra storylines requested by beta testers before it goes out. So sales/time spent does factor in for the quality of the games that end up in the store for at least some authors out there. (And just as an aside, COG does pay their authors well, there’s no complaints there from me at all.)

Oh I agree the customer won’t lower expectations based on anything at our end but I think you’re kind of missing the point I was trying to make before. It’s not being lazy, it’s a combo of writer efficiency, enjoyment (which to me leads to better written scenes) and just plain logistics for getting out a game that is well made, bug free and polished.

If a writer can make a game that is well made at 150k, but has pacing, bug and editing problems due to the scale of it at 500k, which is going to be more enjoyable for the reader on average? They could put the same amount of effort into each, but it does get harder to make something that is larger as perfect as a game that is smaller. You’ve also got to remember that many HG authors are producing their first game through this label. I actually think it would almost be good to encourage a shorter game as the first one to get it well polished and actually finished, rather than embarking on something far longer that has a higher chance of being abandoned.

It doesn’t sound like it’s a big deal, until you’re writing something over 100k. Coding isn’t really nightmare-ish but getting everything to tie up neatly and continue a good flow through the game can get progressively harder and more time consuming the longer and more branched it gets.

Anyway, just my thoughts on it. No disrespect intended either, everyone has their own thoughts and feelings on this :slight_smile:

COG does pay their authors well. If you want to write, they’re a good company to produce games for :slight_smile: