I’m dumping my brain here in case it’s interesting to review strategy, from a business POV. I’m looking at the last 14 days of positech, as if I’m playing a strategy game.
The income over those 14 days is roughly $60k, taking into account direct sales, Steam GoG and the apple app store. there are some other relatively trivial sources too. This is pretty high, because obviously Democracy 3 is relatively newly released, and was just coming out of a sale.
Spending on marketing & PR during this period is relatively tiny. about $2,600 in adwords, another $1,000 ish on another network, and some PR costs, put the whole promotional cost at about $4,600 or roughly 7% of revenue. I could clearly spend more if I saw a decent opportunity to grow the customer base for my games. With this in mind, I just plonked down another $2k today for a splurge on reddit ads coming up.
So how does this all translate into growing the direct-sales juggernaut? well… Direct traffic at positech.co.uk over this period is 54,000 visits compared to 71,000 visits to steam (you get to track this data now). The average steam visitor duration is 31 seconds compared to 82 seconds on my site. This suggests steam is pretty leaky.
In terms of those users I get coming to my site, what are the best sources? The biggest chunk is ‘organic search’ which you don’t have much direct control over, other than trying to get more reviews and doing some SEO, which is a nebulous goal. The most analyzable category is ‘referral’ which is 24.6% of traffic, so quite small. They ‘convert’ in terms of hits on buy pages etc at 11.7% compared with 52% on organic search….interesting. If I narrow this down to people who show up on the Democracy 3 homepage, that figure goes up to 23% of referral visitors converting.
Luckily I can analyze further…
if I look at the Democracy 3 search campaign on adwords, that cost me £266 in that time, or roughly $441. For that, I got 618 clicks, at £0.43 a click ($0.77). This resulted in 72 confirmed buy page hits. I doubt all 72 bought the game. If we assume half of them do, and split the direct & steam takes to get roughly 80% of the money, then I got maybe 36*(0.8*24.95) which is $718, or a profit of $19 a day. Pretty pathetic.
However, if I assume of the half who didn’t buy the game (but had visited the buy page), two thirds of them are prepared to buy the game next time it’s 50% off, then I can add on another $9.50 a day, which is still kinda crap, but better. Further to this, there is the viral effect, where word of mouth from those buyers might lead to additional sales. This involves even more guesswork….and there is more stuff I don’t know…
So the key variables I need to juggle here are:
- Percentage of people who bought the game directly attributable to this spending (some of this is known, but with considerable error margin)
- Percentage of people whose exposure to the game ‘stores up’ a purchase at a later date.
- Percentage of people whose exposure to the game ‘stores up’ a purchase at a lower price.
- Virality multiplier from new purchasers of the game.
- Potential upsell from new customers for future games.
- Cross-promotional effect of people visiting for Democracy 3 but buying GSB./Redshirt/GTB etc…
The trouble is there are just too many variables here, and this is where it becomes alchemy. My gut feeling is that I am underspending on promotion. Possibly massively so.
P.S.If you are an indie dev and read all this, and you are new to the industry, I wonder if you noticed the big amazing factoid buried in all that, that defies general assumptions by almost everyone in the industry? Let me type it again: Direct traffic at positech.co.uk over this period is 54,000 visits compared to 71,000 visits to steam. Yup, this is doable. it takes a lot of time and effort and patience and risk.