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The big question of course is: What size boat can we afford now?
A week ago on Monday, May 26, 2014, we released ibb & obb for Windows on Steam. So how did we do this first week?
Some things to consider. We released ibb & obb on PlayStation3 in August last year. The PC version is very similar, with notable improvements in the online multiplayer and some small changes to the levels.
We chose to release on a Monday, because Valve suggested that might be a good day. Mondays tend to be less busy with updates and new releases and this turned out to be true. We were the only game releasing that day.
There are different ways of being visible in the Steam store. The best spot being the main banner at the top. Not all new releases get in there.
Valve put us in there for the first two days. Which seems pretty good and probably has to do with few games releasing those days.
The third day ibb & obb moved to the Featured PC Games and stayed there for one day. After that we were off the front page.
Prior to launch people would typically ask me how many copies I thought we’d sell. And I honestly didn’t feel I could properly predict this. It made me wonder if others could and we put up a small poll asking people to predict our week one sales.
We had 92 responses. With estimates ranging from 6 to 321654 it’s safe to say that some entries were less informed than others. However most did seem serious and the median of all was 7890.
The main banner is definitely the place to be. The first two days we sold around 3500 copies. Sales slowed down after that and when after day three we were no longer on the front page, it went down to around 250 copies a day.
We released four different packages. Next to the regular pack we offered a double pack. Additionally, both packages had a deluxe alternative that includes the soundtrack.
As ibb & obb is fully designed around co-op play, it seemed to make sense to promote the double pack. We priced it so that you get the extra copy for around 2 Euro.
The double pack became by far the most popular offer. Accounting for 68% of the units sold.
So where do these 4901 ibb & obb buyers live?
Looking at individual countries it’s Germany that surprised us, especially compared to the UK. For every copy bought in the UK, two are sold in Germany.
I’ll make a list later that maps the sales to population numbers. Which would make sales in Canada and Australia quite impressive.
There’s a lot of talk about it becoming harder to sell decent numbers on Steam. Steam is opening up and more and more games get released every day. For us 4901 is a good first week, but then again, sales have now gone down to around 70 a day and we don’t know how that will look in a month from now.
It’s scary to see the huge influence of the main banner. We had two great days because of that, but if we had released a few days later, we might not have been in there at all.
What went well?
- Timing. We think we (based on Valve’s suggestion) picked the right day to release. It’s not common any more to have a day with only one game release and we feel that helped us stay longer in the main banner.
- Double Pack. The double pack sold by far the most copies. The 4901 units sold actually means that around 7000 players now own the game. It also means a lot of people sent a gift to a friend, which is perfectly in line with what ibb & obb is about.
- Streamers. We managed to get quite some attention from Youtubers and Twitch streamers. Let’s Play videos fit the game well. It’s very easy to pick up and the co-op focus makes the interaction between players fun to watch.
- Germany : )
What could have gone better?
- Press. We only got a handful of reviews so far and hardly any attention from bigger sites. From some of them we know they didn’t cover the PC release, because they already reviewed the PlayStation3 version. With so many games longing for attention, that makes a lot of sense. Which means that for a smaller game like ibb & obb, a multi-platform launch might be necessary to get enough attention.
Then again, this might just mean our press release wasn’t all that good and our press list too short.
Back to the main question. What size boat can we afford now?
Note that the boat is second hand and would have to be shared between Sparpweed, Codeglue, Kettel, Tomasz Kaye and an investor. We might go with a fleet of small rubber boats instead.
Last week I posted ‘The ibb & obb End of Year Tribute Quiz’ to ibb & obb’s followers and in a few other places. The quiz showed 13 images, each tributing a game or studio that influenced ibb & obb’s design.
Thirty people submitted answers. Three managed to get a perfect score. Which I feel is pretty impressive as there are a few tributes I thought no one would get.
The questions and correct answers are below:
VVVVVV by Terry Cavanagh
A platformer that revolves around a gravity flipping mechanic. VVVVVV combines hard puzzles with a friendly atmosphere and a lot of character. It’s the kind of game I hope ibb & obb resembles.
Katamari Damacy by Namco
A core mechanic that is clear, accessible and imaginative, wrapped in craziness and Japanese poppy tunes. I can’t imagine anyone playing this and not smiling the whole time.
Braid by Number None
In a presentation, Braid’s designer Jonathan Blow talked about how he felt that players should be offered the opportunity to fully explore the mechanics in a game. The result of that thought can be found in the secret levels of ibb & obb.
Altered Beast by Sega
Altered Beast came bundled with the first console I had access to, the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis). I played this co-op with my brother many times. Even though the game itself doesn’t really appeal to me, I have very fond memories of those co-op sessions. I didn’t think many would get this one correct, but still almost half of the participants did.
Proteus by Ed Key and David Kanaga
I love Proteus’ color pallets. Unique and vibrant but never childish. Similar to what I wanted to achieve with ibb & obb.
This one turned out to be one of the hardest to guess. And was mixed up with Loco Roco a lot.
Ico by Team Ico
The true stars in Ico are the enemies. No huge raging demon like aliens here, but blurry black creatures that constantly back away from you and try to get a sneaky hit in. When one manages to knock you over, the other will grab your girl will try to take her to their own world behind the black pool of death. True scariness is not in the looks, but in the behaviour.
Limbo by Playdead
Limbo offers such a polished experience. There are a lot of subtle design choices to be found in this game. From the way the game starts to the seamless level transitions. The game seems to never disrupt you, it just flows.
Super Mario Bros. by Nintendo
I replayed Super Mario Bros. during the start of ibb & obb’s development. It’s amazing how up to date it still feels. Also Mario teaches us a lot about good secret design. The secrets feel as an integral part of the game world.
When I started my graduation project that led to concept of ibb & obb, Jenova Chen’s graduation prototype Flow, caught Sony’s attention and managed to make it to the PlayStation3. That was my dream and example back then and it feels crazy that it actually happened.
Thatgamecompany’s Journey became one of my all time favorites. It is so well designed with such a great understanding of the player experience. I’m sure it will influence me and many other designers.
This last tribute turned out to be the most difficult to guess. About one in three got it right. And a few clever votes for Fingle here.