What's an average revenue number for a Hosted Games title?

Fantasy and heavy romance are good boons – those tend to be very popular. It might even have a place on Heart’s Choice.


First off, I would not aim for his level. Zombie Exodus is rarefied air indeed. But again, we’re talking zombies, which is supernatural, which is part of the Holy Trinity of CSG genres. Fantasy, superheroes and supernatural (or some mixture therein) not only make up a large chunk of the stories on both labels, but an even larger chunk of the successful ones. Science fiction isn’t on that list. It didn’t exactly just make the cut, either. Slice of life, romance, even historical fiction all have arguably better track records than blasters and spaceships.

Ultimately, the best way to know is to put out an open beta thread. See how much attention it gets. Thread likes, posts, that sort of thing. It’s not a perfect predictor but it’s surprisingly good at showing where you’ll fall on the sales charts.


I risk sounding a little ignorant, but how would I go about having an open beta? Can I do so while I’m still finishing the last few chapters, or do I need to wait?


Publishing through Heart’s Choice would have the same issue as through Choice of Games proper–they don’t take game submissions, they take writer CVs and pitches after that.


You’re already further along than most. I’ll likely put up my next beta once it hits 10-15,000 words and let user feedback help shape it. Just create a new thread under the Works in Progress tab and post a link to your story on Dashingdon or wherever you have it hosted. People will play, give feedback, report bugs, all that good stuff.


Not to say that it’s easy, but they let me submit a writing sample even though I only have 2 WIPs and one incomplete story on Episode. It’s good to at least try. At the end of the day, good writing is good writing and I think COG is a little more lenient than a standard publisher would be. :slight_smile:


I meant on the front of them not wanting game content until they’ve read the writing sample and accepted a pitch, not that this author had insufficient experience. :sweat_smile:


When I replied on Reddit, I stated 5,000 units, it was an example to illustrate the reality of how much you would earn. It’s not to say 5,000 is a reasonable estimate for a new game.

Do you have a social media presence or email list of people who have bought your stories? If so, that’s a huge factor. If you have a following, it matters most.

When I published my first game it was a different time with a different revenue system. My app was free and HG charged to remove ads. By the time I came out with Part 3 of the original game, I already had a small following but it took a year to cultivate a few thousand sales.


I don’t want to derail things too much, but I don’t think you should write off sci-fi completely. Personally I just didn’t find NPT all that engaging. I didn’t get much beyond the crash landing and wandering up to that facility.

Conversely parenting had me from the get go. I don’t know what NPT missed out on to not do that though. ( I actually need to go buy parenting, will do so after hitting the post button… ). I have and will continue to buy sci-fi games from CoG/HG/HC and enjoy them.


I appreciate your honesty (and your pending purchase of TPS). But to be fair, I’m not basing my lack of optimism on sci-fi in HG solely on Toaster tanking. After all, the fixed protag issue likely cost me far more sales than the niche genre. And it was just straight up not written the best. But all that aside, it’s also based on a very apparent lack of sales success from science fiction titles here. I want to see more titles in the genre; it shouldn’t be a surprise that I like it, given I wrote one. Heck, I’ll be reading a Zelazny short story collection while eating lunch at work today. But I also want writers to be as well-informed as possible about potential pitfalls.


Ah, well, if they’re just flat out not selling well on CoG/HG/HC probably not a good genre to pick for your first time out.

Given that I’d probably suggest new authors to Hosted Games pick a genre thats likely to give a half way decent return on time investment and build up a fan base before trying out the less profitable genres.

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I think one of the things to consider is that most games can be marketed as several things, even if it’s science fiction in your head.

Yes, Fallen Hero: Rebirth was marketed as a supervillain game because I did my research and that seemed to be the most profitable genre of the possible ones at the moment, but I could just have easily marketed it as cyberpunk or science fiction with just a couple of small adjustments. Or for that matter pushing more heavily on the LGBT/identity/trans/trauma/ptsd themes within the book and gone for a more serious note. Or pushed the romance aspects. Most books have so many things in them, what you put on the cover and the blurb is just one part.

I aimed for making the story look normal, cool and supervillainish because I wrote the blurb for normal people who would just see the game, so I wanted it to be slightly generic and not having things there that would give people an excuse not to try the game. Well, apart from the supervillain thing, which is a put off for some, but a selling point for others. I then trusted in word of mouth to get people dragged in for the other themes, since I know that those themes tends to be rare enough that people will talk to their friends and drag them in too.

As for the revenue, I have been very lucky for a first time HG published game author with no previous fans (it is still a significant chunk of income for me each month) , but it’s also taken a lot of work. And the sales have in no way been consistent, some of my highest sales (apart from the launch) actually came this august, a year and a half after publication.

Since most of my marketing has focused on having an active tumblr and trying to build a community there (it’s worked), every time someone new and popular gets dragged in and starts doing some fanart, the sales numbers go up again. There’s like five people I feel I should almost pay royalties to, because their art has just got so many people into the game. I have also had the alpha for book two up a lot sooner than I had planned, just to have a constant influx of new content to feed people’s interest. There is no better marketing than having people talk about your game to their friends. Some people do it on here, some people have patreons, or facebook, or their own site, I do it on tumblr.

In fact, I actually learned of CoG and got the urge to write one, because Choice of Robots went viral on tumblr back in the day.


There’s a bit of a running joke about writing a story about a zombie, pirate, magic welding superhero who dates in their spare time if you want a game to be successful, but it also has a grain of truth to it as well. Sci fi doesn’t seem to be one of the more popular genres but it doesn’t mean it won’t be successful. (Re: CO robots- but there’s no wildly popular Starship type games… Yet at least.) You just need to add up the known potential strikes like: less popular (or variably popular) CS genres, generlocked or fixed protag, niche storylines, shorter length, skill in writing CS games, high branching to word count ratio, quality of the promo art, cost, lack of ROs etc.

On top of that you have things out of your control like whether or not it gets a steam release, what other games are released with yours and initial reviews.

It really is very variable and not always obvious how well a game will do. My first game wizardry made a lot more on release and I suspect will make significantly more longterm than my more recent game Oedipus, even though my last game has better reviews and I feel is better written, due to a number of the above strikes. Starship adventures is probably even worse off despite having a few well recognised authors from around here on the writing team, probably because it’s comedy genre (it’s also sci fi, but I’d say the comedy genre/satire knocked it around more although neither helped) and on the short side more than anything else. But yeah, that’s why you won’t generally hear estimates given out for HGs. If you want a guaranteed income, I’d suggest pitching to the official brand (COG) instead. COG has commented before that some HGs never make $1000 profit total (and the author only gets part of that which is where the few hundred comes in).


Out of curiosity, has it been discussed here on the forums what qualifies/disqualifies a CS game getting a Steam release?

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In short, whether they think it will sell on Steam.


I think it’s important to note that when we’re talking about sci-fi selling poorly on average, that we’re talking about HARD sci-fi. Spaceships, aliens, etc…

Sci-fi is a wide umbrella that includes many things, including the superhero genre.

But yeah, I’ve noticed that hard sci-fi games don’t seem to sell too well while superhero stuff does. Fantasy does very well, dating stuff has a surprising (to me) amount of fans here too. I don’t know what I’d call my game (urban fantasy?) but werewolves also seem to do well, especially since I marketed it within the furry fandom. Knowing your audience is important. You can’t just throw the game out into the ether and expect it to do well all on its own.


While I agree that hard sci-fi doesn’t sell well outside its niche audience, starships and aliens aren’t automatically hard sci-fi. In fact, I’d say that all mainstream starship/aliens media is soft sci-fi or space opera.

I’d personally love to see some more soft sci-fi on here, but my likes alone definitely won’t give any insight into what sells well! :joy:


Last time we had this conversation, I pointed out that Choice of Robots was an absolute blockbuster, and Mary noted that Versus and Mecha Ace have also sold very well:

So it’s not as if sci fi is the kiss of death for sales. Maybe it doesn’t have quite as consistent a fan base as the top genres, but it can succeed big if it hits the right buttons at the right time…


I’m a huge believer in honesty with income so I’ll try to be as honest as possible despite not keeping very good records.

I have a bunch of novels published through a small press here in Australia, and I go to fairs/festivals/conventions about once a month, selling them from a table. It’s very hard work for not much money, but I like doing it. I have a thousand or so followers on twitter, and the same on facebook, but I don’t think they translate to money for me, or at least not much. All of which is to say that I do make an effort on the marketing side, but I don’t think it does much. I get much more for my interactive fiction, with much less effort.

My novel-writing is obviously helpful in terms of spelling/grammar, and crafting a story (and making me sigh loudly when reviews say, “This is great! You should write books!”) but I’m weaker on the game-writing side. I keep forgetting that there are more cliches/archetypes in games, and that’s what people actually like eg a game set in space should have awesome laser fights, aliens, space battles, etc—rather than lengthy philosophical discussions (although some writers can do both, I doubt I am one of them).

The first interactive fiction game I ever published was Attack of the Clockwork Army, which is steampunk set in Australia ($1.99). The most recent is Death at the Rectory, which is $2.99.

I’d consider those two together because they were both mainly for my own personal amusement (yes of course I edited and so on, but the first is set in the same world as my novels and the second is a cozy murder mystery). I reckon they make around $1000 over the course of the first year, and most well-written but not super mainstream games might do similarly (except of course I benefit from the exchange rate - it’s probably more like $800US). Then a few dollars a month for… apparently forever, given that the first was published several years ago.

Scarlet Sails is my pirate game, which is both my most game-y game and was in the top ten of the IF Comp 2015. I still get about $30US/month for that, so I imagine I received 2-3 thousand back in the day when it was new.

I was also involved in two group-written games, Starship Adventures (scifi comedy) and Lost in the Pages (portal adventure). They both did quite badly (but they were incredibly enjoyable to be a part of).

In conclusion…er… any well-written game will get a grand or two. Probably. Maybe. Eventually.

I do think that longer games do MUCH better (regardless of price). And that people who are good at marketing and/or writing to the market (in terms of genre, etc) can make $10,000 or so from a Hosted Game. And that someone who’s in the forums and/or has several games will also sell more, because they’re a known quality.

As someone who sucks at marketing, I really appreciate the large fan base that comes with the ChoiceScript/Choice of Games community.


I would like to basically emphasize this idea that there is no real average. I have been involved now as co-author or author in 5 games, and there are massive differences between them. As @Felicity_Banks pointed out, Starship and Lost in the Pages have done pretty badly (I guess after several years they make 5-10 dollars each per month, divided by 4-5 authors… so, each of them buys you… a packet of chewing gums?). Tokyo Wizard and Highway Wars have done much better, and used to make 50-100 USD in sales per month. My newest game, Hero or Villain is doing much better so far, though it is still too soon to know what will be the “average monthly pay” once it has “matured”.

So, thinking about what is the average revenue number is probably missleading. If the question was, “what is the average revenue for a mature HG title”, then I would say: for a “flop”, around 5-10 USD per month. For a “well received game”, maybe 30-100 USD. Blockbuster? I am still to find out, but maybe the range might be 500-1000 USD. Note that these brackets have gaps in between them, and I think this is actually what happens, though this is what I believe happens (from what I know from my games and other conversations I have had…)