I’m closing in on finishing a game that I want to be published to Hosted Games. I realize this takes a while and is a process, but I have been having trouble finding average earnings numbers. I’ve seen a lot of vague answers like ‘good’ or ‘enough to help’, but I’d like to know what the earning average is for a creator of these games. You know, as something to think about when I’m waiting for my game to go through the publishing process.
Hosted Games authors don’t recieve advances, that’s only Choice of Game authors. Hosted Games only starts paying after your game has been released, but even then, the numbers are incredibly variable because there’s no minimum to how much money you receive, i believe, and so it’s entirely dependent on how much you’re selling your game for.
So say you’re selling your game for three bucks, so the absolute minimum that a person would receive from us is about 25% (or maybe a little bit more or less) of $4 per sale, which is about $1, but then from there you also take out other costs related to hosting your game as Eric has mentioned, so it comes out closer to 17%
There is likely a gigantic revenue spread, especially with Hosted Games, and I think many folks are afraid to cite numbers because they fear being seen either as a failure (if low numbers) or a braggart (if high numbers).
Plus, many authors frequent the forum here, so many of us “know” each other, so that probably plays a part too because we’re sensitive to each others’ feelings.
Now if anyone announces the number of units they sold, then you can do some quick math (unit price * 17.5% * number of units sold) to get a pretty good answer. But only the authors and the publisher know the number of units sold across all the platforms.
I have two releases, with one definitely on the low end and the other, if not at the higher end, at least within shouting distance of it. Without specific dollar figures, I will say that NPT has earned, in total over 13 months, roughly 1/5 or so what Parenting has in 1 full month. So to say there is a spread is a significant understatement. Few people can ever do this full-time, but for some this is a significant second income and for others they are basically just writing for fun and getting the equivalent of a free coffee or two every month.
More importantly, I think you should ask yourself how much money you’d need to make in order to feel satisfied / like it was worth it. Knowing that you’ll end up making about 17% of the gross after all’s said and done, figure out how many sales you’d need to make to reach that amount. See if that number’s in the realm of possibility (if you have an audience here on the forums, your own website, or elsewhere on social media). Take into account how much marketing you might need to do to reach those numbers. And, if that’s a large amount, don’t forget about taxes at the end of the year!
It seems to me that the best path, especially for your first game, is to do it for fun, for the experience of it, to get a feel for the audience and the process, with no expectations of profitability. Whatever you make is a happy surprise. Then, you can take the numbers from the first game to calculate whether you want to do a second one, and have a sense for if/how you want to pitch for a CoG release.
@CD_Stargazer Out of curiosity, can you give some info about your story? Genre, word length, that kind of thing? It might help in making an educated guess on how well you can expect it to do. Nothing concrete, of course, since there’s tons of X factors like writing quality, how polished it is, price point, and so on, but at least a ballpark estimate.
It’s a near-future sci-fi and it’s looking like it’s going to be 150k to 200k words. I’m a very experienced writer with tons of published ghostwritten stories and books, but choice script and interactive storytelling is something I’ve had to learn along the way. The title is Time of Genius.
I’m thinking that since you’re a published writer, perhaps you could pitch to CoG directly. Unless you are positive that the HG label is a better fit for your game, of course (I’m guessing if it’s genderlocked or something like that you’d have no choice but to make it as a HG).
I’m glad you’re experienced, but sci-fi is a bit of a tough nut. There have been successful ChoiceScript stories that are heavy on science fiction elements, but fewer than in more popular genres like superheroes and fantasy. If you can get on with CoG I would recommend it, because without their superior promotion and the advance it might be tough going. I know I will never again do a sci-fi tale here.
It’s potentially a bit late in the process of this game specifically to move to CoG–you can read about the process of writing for the official label here, and they don’t want an actual game concept until a little ways into the process. If you’ve already started in on a Hosted Games title it might be a page you’re already familiar with, or the Hosted Games one might be at least, but in case you haven’t seen them!
To give an idea of sales expectations for science fiction:
I turned on the genre filter for sci-fi in the HG omnibus and looked at this week’s bestselling titles. In the top 5? Zip. Top 10? Zero. Top 25? Nada. The highest is Totem Force at #32. Next is Magikiras at #40. Now those aren’t bad rankings for stories long past their release, necessarily. But TF is far from a pure sci-fi story, being more of a Power Rangers homage with high school elements and such. And Magikiras is boosted by being one of the longest interactive fiction titles…like, ever? Pretty much ever. Outside of those two, there’s nothing even in the top 50.
It’s not at all impossible to have a sci-fi hit. But just by working in that genre you already have at least two strikes against you, and maybe more like 2.75 strikes. If your story isn’t practically perfect in every way like Mary friggin’ Poppins, you’re going to end up having hundreds of hours of your work translate into about $300 on release and $4-10 a month thereafter as buys trickle in by ones and twos.
Perfect in practically every way or it’s going to translate into $300 on release and $4-10 a month thereafter? I’ve been talking to the author of Zombie Exodus, and while I realize not every game is in that league, potential earnings of $3500 for a year vs. what you’re saying is a pretty massive disparity.
I don’t know that Zombie Exodus qualifies as sci-fi, but regardless of that, ZE is one of the more popular titles. Most published HGs won’t see that kind of success. Having a hit COG game depends on the genre, length, and quality. It’s just a fact of the matter that most HG won’t be huge hits unless they’re in a popular genre (which isn’t to say they never can – there’s plenty of popular games that aren’t fantasy or superheroes).
It has been my experience, both outside of this publisher and within that when dealing with independent-like efforts, such as are being discussed here, the variances involved are writer/developer specific.
@JimD (the author of Zombie Exodus and other works) spends a lot of time and effort to promote, nurture and even develop his revenue streams. Some authors/developers are really involved in their outside career (@Eric_Moser) and so their efforts are curtailed by that career to one degree or another … some author/developers such as @HannahPS and @FayI are impacted by a very busy personal life.
The upside is definitely there but it may take a different approach to achieve that upside than you are used to with other experiences.
One thing that many people making HG works constantly forget or never realize is that at the end of the day, your development team is a small team that is going to be influenced by everything from the outside interfering with that development.
For every JimD and HannahPS, there is an Eiwynn (me) … someone that finds that even with their experiences elsewhere there are going to be trials and tribulations that impact your RoI and your experience as a whole.
Edit: Also, which marketplaces are involved with your release will impact the audience you reach. In your specific case, I see Steam being a more fertile marketplace than the others.