Indie Games Price Point

January 30th, 2010

I recently saw a couple of blog posts discussing the price point of indie games. Here’s a good writeup by Dave Gilbert, author of games like The Shivah and The Blackwell Legacy. Another good piece is the How to Afford that $15 Indie Game comic. Be sure to read the comments there for a variety of opinions.

Like so many other indie developers I’m finding myself on the fence regarding this. $15 and $19.99 is often a lot of money for an indie game, but I think that a price point of below $5 is ridiculous. That’s pocket change. That’s also one of the reasons I’m not considering porting my games to iPhone or iPad or i-whatever – it’s impossible to charge anything worthwhile there, and the amount of sales required to make any kind of money is ridiculously high.

All in all, I think that $15 is a good price for a decently long indie game. Maybe $10, if it’s just a couple of hours’ worth of gameplay. But that means a proper game of course – not just a cute single-screen timewaster with a clever innovative game mechanic. It’s a little like calling the kettle black, but in my own mind there’s a difference between simple flash games and a game that’s crafted to deliver a story or provide a progression of sorts.

“Wait a second,” says the observant reader. “If you’re so bleedin’ keen on selling games for $10-$15, how come your newest game Wildhollow is priced at $19.99?!”

Good question! The answer is that I don’t want to charge $20 for a game, but due to simple economics I’m pretty much forced to do so. My business model dictates that if I want to continue to make games, each game must make more than it costs to produce. This is so that I can afford higher production values for each new game – which in turn (in theory at least) will generate higher profits for the newer games. My ultimate goal is to produce very good games with very good production values.

With Wildhollow I made a couple of bad design decisions, and the end result isn’t perfect by any means. But the game has sold more than it cost to make, which means that it’s good enough for quite a few people to buy at a price of $19.99. My guess, before launching the game, was that the amount of extra people that would have bought the game at $10 or $15 would not have resulted in a higher profit than what I’m getting right now. And I firmly believe that that assessment was correct.

For my next game, working title Spandex Force: Superhero U, I have high hopes for a larger potential customer base which might mean a lower price. However, I’m also increasing the production budget, so nothing is set in stone…



Wildhollow Reviews and Warez

December 7th, 2009

My latest adventure/pet raising game Wildhollow is released and things are progressing fairly well. Many seem to like it, and thanks to P├Ątr a game-stopping bug was found in time. It could have been immensely embarrasing otherwise…

For the ones curious what Wildhollow is all about, here are two reviews:

http://jayisgames.com/archives/2009/11/wildhollow.php

http://www.gamertell.com/gaming/comment/gamertell-review-wildhollow-for-pc-and-mac/

Also, I’m constantly googling “Wildhollow” to see what people are saying about the game. One thing I noted this weekend is that a cracked version of Wildhollow has popped up on various file networks. Trembling with fury and sorrow and trepidation and other things I downloaded one of these files to see if it was a bona fide copy of the game. Were people downloading my precious little game and playing it for free? Were people ignoring my hard work for a moment’s instant gratification?

It turns out that the answer is no.

If anyone feels tempted to download the “Wildhollow RIP” that’s circulating on warez sites you should be aware that it’s technically cracked but you won’t be able to play further than Steinheim Keep. You see, for the trial version I made two modifications: I added a time limit of 60 minutes, and I content-limited the game so that nothing from beyond that point is included. The warez version available only removes the time limit but – obviously – cannot add the missing content.

I guess that it’s just a matter of time before a real version pops up, but I feel pretty happy that for now loads of people are going to play the game an hour or two until they realize that they’re playing a trial version after all!



Get Ready for Adventure! KarjaSoft Releases Wildhollow

November 27th, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Get Ready for Adventure! KarjaSoft Releases Wildhollow

Sweden, November 27, 2009 — Independent game developer KarjaSoft proudly announces the release of tongue-in-cheek adventure/pet raising game Wildhollow for Windows and Mac.

Wildhollow introduces the story of a young boy or girl returning home to find his or her parents missing under mysterious circumstances. The player is tasked with solving quests and ultimately discovering the fate of his/her missing parents, while also restoring the titular Wildhollow ranch to full glory. The game features an original mix of dialogue driven adventure gameplay and pet simulation elements in which animals can be raised and crossbred. A wide variety of breeds can be discovered, and varied food gathering minigames spice things up even further.

The game world is filled with colorful characters and humorous dialogue, and provides many hours of open-ended entertainment. The player encounters inept adventurers, cowardly dragons, greedy merchants, dwarf lords in love and much more as the story progresses.

“If you enjoy funny dialogue, adorable pets to raise and clever jabs at common fantasy cliches you’re going to love Wildhollow,” says Miro Karjalainen, owner of KarjaSoft, not at all deterred by the fact that his opinion might be slightly biased.

Wildhollow is available for Windows and Mac at the price of $19.99. More information, screenshots and trial downloads can be found on the official webpage:

http://www.wildhollow.com

Features:

- Loads of wacky characters to interact with
- Adorable animals to breed
- Tongue-in-cheek humor poking fun at fantasy cliches
- A colorful fantasy world to explore
- Hours of adventurous quests
- And much more…

System requirements:

1 GHz CPU, 512 MB RAM. Windows 2000 or higher, or Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher.

About KarjaSoft

Founded by Miro Karjalainen in 2006, KarjaSoft has previously released the fluffy arcade game Sheeplings in 2007 followed by superhero puzzle/RPG Spandex Force in 2008. KarjaSoft focuses on developing casual indie games with a twist, including lots of humor and genre blending. Visit KarjaSoft online at http://www.karjasoft.com

Contact:

Miro Karjalainen
www.karjasoft.com
info@karjasoft.com

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:D



Wildhollow Release Tomorrow

November 26th, 2009

“Karja, you lazy sod! Why haven’t you blogged for several weeks now,” I hear you cry. Well, SOME of us have a full time job while we also try to fit in a wedding (not my own!), beer with friends, TV-series (I love House M. D.!) and casual adventure game development. The latter is what’s been occupying most of my spare time these last couple of weeks.

The adventure/simulation game Wildhollow is about to be released November 27, and I’m trying my best to arrange everything for tomorrow. Full version and trial builds for Windows and Mac, press release, webpage touch-ups, ordering system setup, and on and on and on… The time is now 10 PM and I’m starting to question how much sleep I’ll get tonight.

Stay tuned for a press release posting tomorrow…



Wildhollow Flash Game Part 3

November 4th, 2009

A little while ago I started a side project to my adventure/management game Wildhollow: a simple Flash game for the website as a teaser. I’m aiming for a game where you learn what animals like what types of food; something that’s useful to know in the real game too.

In my previous two versions I was using…well…Flash, but now I’ve experimented with Flex and lately with flixel, a game framework compatible with Flex. Things are progressing much more smoothly now that I can focus on writing the ActionScript code instead of mucking about with learning basic Flash concepts. This is as far as I’ve come right now:

I’m starting to figure out the different game states, and I’ve added stages as well as a simple scoring system. By the way, if you get past level 5 the game will crash. Just so you know. It’s far from finished – but the main idea is beginning to crystalize.

Things left on the todo list:

  • More stages with different animals
  • Possibly, an online highscore table
  • Sound and music
  • Better loading screen
  • One-screen tutorial
  • General design issues – improve the look of the game
  • Try out small things like should the food items start bouncing instead of just moving forward, etc
  • Misc things like KarjaSoft logo, link to the Wildhollow homepage, optimize the game for size, etc…

Time to get some work done if I want to finish this before the Wildhollow release…