Sunday, December 18, 2011

Less Cash Makes More Money

I went on two spending sprees this season - one hosted by Google's Android Marketplace, the other hosted by The Humble Indie Bundle. The two shopping sprees combined cost me less than twenty bucks, but out of them I acquired no less than 48 (yes, forty-eight) commercial applications. Four of them not only included source code, but previously undisclosed version control access to said code and remastered soundtracks. That's a pretty freakin' good deal.

One might think that my mad app grab put these software studios at a loss... but that appears to be far from the case. Introversion Software (a personal favorite of mine) noted that the opposite effect occurred:
As we pass 180,000 sales of the Humble Introversion Bundle, I can’t help but feel astonished. This is the biggest single sale Introversion has ever done on any platform, even beating the epic Steam promotions we run from time to time. It roughly equates to one sale every six seconds. And the best part of all - the part that makes me most happy, is that this promotion has doubled the number of people who have played our games. 180,000 is more copies than our best selling game Darwinia ever sold, and the Humble Bundle includes all four of our games, so that means twice as many people have now played each of our games than before the bundle. That’s pretty cool. As the principle game creator here at Introversion, that’s the biggest thing for me.

And let’s not mess around, the revenue is pretty good too. When it’s all divided up we’ll see about one quarter of the total revenue you see on the Humble site - and I’m sure Humble won’t mind us revealing that, because it’s obvious if you’ve look at the default sliders. That’s one quarter of a pretty big number, and that revenue will keep us going for a long while. And we’ve done it while raising over $200k for some very worthy charities.

As for those publishers who participated in Google's 10 Apps / 10 Cents / 10 Days promotion? I haven't heard of any testimony from that front, however watching the Android Market itself has been very interesting. During the 3 weeks spanning the promotion and the week immediately following I've seen more activity and application updates pushed than I've seen in the past 3 months - including apps that were not part of the promotion. It seems the promo not only featured some titles whose volume might have otherwise tapered off but it also increased interest in adjacent titles as well, enough so that publishers wanted to have updates waiting in the wings for them.

I've noticed that this kind of title distribution is gaining steam, enough so that Rock, Paper Shotgun has almost been driven insane by the sheer number of bundle announcements. This has the leading indications of being a potentially disruptive market force... as much as I might loath the cliche. This method of catering to all price points has somewhat been used by recording artists and game studios years before, but the emphasis was selling at cost and then giving premium content to the upper 10% of the fanbase who would pay for it. For some artists lowering the cost barrier wholesale can pay amazing dividends and grow a loyal user base in short order.

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