I have blogged, off-and-on, very openly about our development and self-publishing experiences over the last few years. We’re a small team, comprised of Claire (MD), Steve (Tech Director) and myself (Creative). As a team, we have self-published various titles on WiiWare, PSP, Vita & mobile. This blog post is slightly different, in that it is co-written by Claire, my fantastic partner (in business and in life). So over to Claire to cover the initial launch…
Our latest release is Life of Pixel, which is the first game we have launched on PC/Mac, so everything is fairy new to us. We launched Life of Pixel Early Access on May 16th, initially via the Humble Widget off our own website, www.lifeofpixel.co.uk. This was followed by a release on Desura on June 11th. As a team we have put everything we can into Life of Pixel, dedicating not only time but what seems our whole lives to this project – being a couple with 3 kids working from home, running an indie development company kind of takes over every aspect of your life. We thought we had created something special, but it has seen a very disappointing Early Access launch.
Life Of Pixel Is Go!
We eagerly launched Life of Pixel and contacted the press to let them know about our amazing new game, asking them to have a play and hopefully cover and review it. We emailed and tweeted in the hope people would cover the game, and why would they not? To us Life of Pixel is a fantastic retro delicacy, with great game-play, fun characters, beautiful 8 & 16-bit aesthetics and a lot of heart. It has everything a perfect platformer should have and more!
As I said, this was about 2 months ago and since then we have continually been trying to gain interest in our game, get coverage, boost sales – but sales have been slow, really slow. We can barely even pay the Steam GreenLight submission fee from sales revenue so far!
Sales Figures since Early Access Launch
So let’s look at the figures…
From our own site we have sold 35 units since the launch on May 16th. We have only now started analysing traffic via Google Analytics; in the last four weeks we have had over 270 visitors, but only 7 sales.
Desura is even worse – since launch we have sold 4 copies, yet 1,537 people visited the Life of Pixel store page. Life of Pixel was also featured for the first week at the top of the Games page.
So the question is – what is going so badly wrong, why aren’t we getting sales or coverage? Are people too busy? They don’t play Retro/platform games? The World Cup is on? Summer Holidays? They were at E3? Should we focus on YouTubers?
Rich, in particular, is struggling with what to make of all this –
Feelings So Far
Thanks Claire. Life of Pixel is my baby, my concept and project. I am not saying this to score points, more to highlight how much I believed in the concept. I have been completely shaken by this, the poor sales, the terrible conversion rate, and the general lack of interest in the game. I feel personally responsible for this, as it is my concept; I am confused, and concerned that I have let everyone down.
In my darker moments I worry that I have got it wrong; is Life of Pixel pointless rose-tinted nostalgia that no-one is actually interested in? Is it too British, too difficult, is it lacking content? Is there, honestly, no market for such a game? Has the Indie bubble burst on PC/Mac?
What do you do if it seems that the game you made, the game you love, is the wrong game?
I feel that everyone should play Life of Pixel – it is special; unique yet fun, a wealth of content and secrets to discover, a sense of adventure and plenty of gameplay twists and turns. A game with charm and a voice of its own.
We Will Never Give Up, Indie Development is What We Do!
We’ve also been doing a lot of soul searching, trying to work out why things are going so badly for Life of Pixel. We are Indie, so we have used our strengths as a small, adaptable team and over the last few weeks we have devoted a whole lot of work into various tweaks and refinements to Life of Pixel, and added a lot of new content. We’ve made all machines (bar the secret machines) unlocked from the beginning, adjusted the difficulty in places, reduced ‘cheap deaths’ where we could find them, added a camera look up/down feature and several new gameplay mechanics. We have added three all new 16-bit machines; Amiga, SNES and Megadrive, plus lots of new enemies and game features such as new traps, buzzsaws, trampolines, skateboards & minecarts to ride, planes to fly, cannons to shoot Pixel, power-up potions & bombs, switches & puzzles, and many more additions.
We plan to launch Pixel ‘Gold’ by late July, with GreenLight launching at the same time. Please check out the new screenshots, give feedback and tell us your thoughts on Life of Pixel. You can also sign up to our blog at www.supericon.co.uk where we will be posting news and updates on Pixel.