Since I've seen some folks discussing the impact of Greenlight on indie games, I thought I might share some (thinly veiled) data to illustrate my experiences.
How is NEO Scavenger Doing?
First up, how is NEO Scavenger doing? And for that matter, Blue Bottle Games in general?
NEO Scavenger development started way back in May 2011. It was almost a year before I was able to launch the beta, opening it up for pre-sale. Here's a snapshot of what that means, in terms of finances:
|Figure 1: Daily gross revenue in USD since development started.|
How do the peaks and troughs compare?
|Figure 2: Revenue vs. Cost to-date|
Did Greenlight Affect NEO Scavenger Sales?
Yes. However, it's hard to say by how much. Here's a better look at the lead-up to Greenlight launch:
|Figure 3: Daily gross revenue in USD since August 16, 2012|
However, on August 16th, I started integrating with IndieDB and ModDB, and publishing news there as well. Here are some details on the lettered annotations in Figure 3:
A - Launched on IndieDB.com/ModDB.com. First news item published, and product page started.
B - Launched on Steam Greenlight.
C - Launched on Desura, and offered for sale.
As you can see, the IndieDB news was a pretty subtle effect. There were a few postings in the following days, and it started to create momentum, but it was hard to distinguish from the regular sales behavior.
Steam Greenlight caused a pretty significant surge, however. Over that whole weekend, awareness increased, and sales with it. It was a welcome financial shot in the arm.
Desura also caused a boost in awareness and sales. It's hard to tell if it's as great as Greenlight was, but it definitely caused its own spike. And what's more, Desura sales seem to have surpassed my own website's performance.
What's the Big Picture?
Figure 3 shows us some interesting data points, but what do they mean? Well, look back at Figure 1. Better yet, here's a zoomed-in version of it:
|Figure 4: Daily gross revenue in USD since launch.|
|Figure 5: Top referrers to bluebottlegames.com in March 2012|
That month was also the world's first taste of NEO Scavenger, so it likely had a larger proportion of visitors who were not yet customers.
So far, Greenlight has proven to be a valuable marketing tool, if nothing else. It drove a significant number of sales on its own, and the comments on the Greenlight page have served as a welcome ego boost. What's more, calculated approval rates appear to be growing slowly. They're only at 2% now, but it's good to see them grow over time. Perhaps once NEO Scavenger is ready for prime time, the votes will be nearing critical mass.
One unfortunate downside to Greenlight, however, is the lack of direct linking to my product page. I had to present a link to my demo as plain text in my Greenlight page, which means users must type the link manually to see it. I'm betting a significant number of users are lost to this barrier, despite their interest.
Additionally, Greenlight is still sorting out discoverability issues. People need to be led directly to my NEO Scavenger page there to know it exists. There are a few brave souls who browse the games, page-by-page, rating them all. But I suspect most are too tired to slog through the hundreds that are presented.
Desura has also proven to be a valuable partner. As a sales channel, it may even surpass my own website's. No doubt this is due, in large part, to the existing customer base and ease of reaching them/deploying builds. I'm very interested to see how it's sales performance changes over time. Will it prove to be another flash in the pan? Or, fingers crossed, will the additional sales channel help push NEO Scavenger daily revenue up to sustainable levels?
Finally, don't underestimate traditional coverage. RPS, Something Awful, and the other major players can really help to get the word out. In fact, this most recent surge in traffic is also largely driven by non-Steam sources, such as PC Gamer, The Indie Stone (Project Zomboid forums), Reddit, and RPGCodex. There's definitely a synergy effect going on, too.
It's a ton of work keeping up with the various sites that mention your game, but it's totally worth it. Show them you appreciate them, and they'll do the same!