Fishing for Money


It’s been a week now since the Mumble Indie Bungle went out into the world and it’s been a very satisfying and pleasant experience to see that lots of people enjoyed the various games and had some laughs, maybe even the occasional deeper experience. Of course, one of the things about the Bungle was that it was the first time I charged for any game of mine, so I thought I’d do a quick run-down of what happened (putting aside, as best I can, any embarrassment or other weirdnesses I might feel about the whole thing).

Okay, so I used Gumroad to sell one of the games in the bundle, Carp Life. First of all, Gumroad was very, very easy to use, so no complaints there at all – it’s almost eerily easy. You have a .zip file, say, and you put it up there and set the amount of money it costs and that’s about it, off you go. Gum road allows for “pay what you want” style pricing, which seemed appropriate, since that’s the traditional Bundle way, so I went with $1+, which is the smallest minimum you can have. Such are the logistics.

The statistics. I’ll just disclose everything here, though I don’t think it’ll be all the useful to anyone else. Still it might be interesting in some ways. So, broad strokes. My games subsite has had 29,000 page loads and 20,000 unique visitors in the week since I released the games (though obviously not all of those concern the bungle specifically, and some of it is just regular traffic through the site). I don’t have stats on the downloads of the games (because I never get around to that sort of thing) but, for instance, 30 Flights of Loathing has been downloaded 117 times in the last 42 hours, here at the tail of the bungle’s spike in interest.

So, what about the money then? Well. In the week it’s been available Carp Life has been purchased 85 times for a total of $241.04 (an average of $2.84 per purchase). After Gumroad’s charges, that means I have made $207.78 from the game. I could not tell you what that “means” in any sense. Further to this, I can see that the page on Gumroad for purchasing the game has been viewed 2,733 times. That is, when people look at the purchasing page, they actually buy the game roughly 3% of the time. That’s one statistic I found kind of interesting actually. Consider that even in the most optimistic version of things, if we say that every unique visitor to the site in the last week was looking at the bungle, then around 13.5% of the clicked through to “buy” Carp Life (which seems high to me), and then a mere 3% of those people bought it, that is less than one half of one percent of “potential customers”.

I’m kind of intrigued by that low “conversion rate” on the Gumroad site itself, and I have a suspicion (with no actual evidence) that what might be happening there is that by the time people get down to Carp Life on the bungle page they’re so confused about what the hell is going on and what is true and what is a fiction as part of the meta-narrative of the bungle that they click through to buy Carp Life thinking they’ll only be “buying” it in a fictional sense. Then they see an actual request for credit card details and back slowly (or perhaps rapidly) away. I kind of like the idea of this, that this set of games is so convoluted in terms of creating an alternate universe that it becomes hard to tell what’s real anymore.

Not a great way to make money though, confusing your costumers. Not that the point of Carp Life was money making, as with the rest of the bungle, charging was part of that meta-narrative and had to form a part of it – the “bonus” non-free game was too funny to resist, even though it kind of hurt my heart a bit not to be able to give Carp Life away for free and thus allow more people to play it (since I really quite like it as a game). Them’s the breaks though, gotta be true to the vision, right?

So anyway, one upshot is that Carp Life did pay for the license for GameMaker: Studio I had to buy to convert the games across to Windows, and some more on top of that, say for my Apple Developer Program membership for this year, which will allow me to distribute some stuff on the App Store etc. And all in all a very interesting experience watching money be associated with something I’ve made (and feel very grateful and honoured that anyone would pay anything quite frankly). Much more statistically titillating than the usual of watching traffic spike and fall away each time.

As per usual, the real rewards have definitely been in seeing people’s reactions to the games. But an extra $200 or so is also utterly okay by me. Maybe I should buy a goldfish with some of that… maybe one really big goldfish…

15 April 2013
← next words previous words →