Spinnortality: crunching the numbers

I thought I’d share how Spinnortality’s launch went.

Sales numbers

Let’s cut right to the chase, shall we? I’m free to reveal my sales numbers since neither itch.io nor Steam (as of last year) forbid me from doing so, so why not?

In its first week, Spinnortality sold about 7000 copies on Steam, and 33 on itch. It made about $70,000 on Steam. (Bear in mind they take a hefty cut of that.) I’m not sure how much it made on itch but I think it was around $300.

(It has now, one month after launch, sold nearly 9000 copies on Steam and itch combined, for a total of $90,000. But let’s work with the first-sales-week figures for now.)

Edit: more numbers!

A few people have asked me how many wishlists I had prior to launch, and the breakdown of sales by system (ie. PC, Mac or Linux).

I set up the Steam page in March 2018 and started encouraging people to wishlist. This meant the game’s wishlists grew slowly over time; by launch there were about 2,000. (Now, btw, there are about 20,000, who I expect could be tempted to buy the game with sales.)

According to Steam I’ve sold 421 Mac copies and 202 Linux copies, out of the current total of 9000. So almost all of my sales are for Windows copies. I suspect more itch.io copies were bought by Linux players but I’m not sure how to verify that; there doesn’t seem to be a “how many people downloaded the Linux version vs. Windows version” tool.

 

What does that mean for the future of my one-person studio?

I live in Europe, so let’s convert that into Euros. That’s about €61,500. After Steam’s cut, taxes, VAT and my revenue split with my music composer, I’m left with about €21,000. I need about €1200 per month to live, so that’s 18 months of runway to make my next game as long as I don’t spend money on freelancers. (Spoiler alert: I probably will.)

Note that this will be complicated by the fact that, under Austrian law, the amount I pay for health and pension insurance scales with my income. I honestly don’t understand this yet and need to look into it more, so that 18 months estimate will certainly shrink.

However, word on the street is that a game’s total sales in its first year are roughly double what it makes in launch week. So I can expect to make about €120k in 2019, which will shrink to about €35k. That’s about 30 months runway but, again, health and pension insurance.

 

How much did Spinnortality cost to make and launch?

I don’t want to get into specific numbers, especially since a lot of people deliberately gave me amazingly kind, cheap deals because they liked me and believed in the game. But my total costs for commissioning the trailer, PR freelancers and the German translation came to roughly  €8,000. Note this doesn’t include the costs of travelling to cons or other stuff like buying a new laptop. I also didn’t spend any money on ads, which some devs might want to.

 

What does this mean?

First, I have enough money to make more games! Yay! I’m still working out what those games will be, though: I think I got lucky with Spinnortality’s launch and I can’t necessarily count on that luck a second time. Bear in mind it will take me at least a year to make the next game, maybe more, so I need that runway.

Second, the game has done well – but not unbelievably well. It’s no Minecraft, certainly. But these sales numbers are as good as they could possibly be, I think: this is a first-time game from a relatively unknown person with very little PR footprint or established reputation. I was honestly expecting these numbers to be half what they are. I’m amazed that the game has got coverage in publications as varied as Der Standard and rockpapershotgun.

Bottom line? The indiepocalypse (or whatever we call the increasingly crowded indie space) has not made it impossible for newcomers to successfully break into the field. But I suspect a lot of that was down to the people who supported me, particular opportunities that came up which may not be reproducible for others, and luck. After getting lucky and benefiting from all those things, I have now made enough money to keep doing what I love, but without a huge financial cushion. That’s ok, and I can work with that, but I’m a little nervous about the future now.

22 thoughts on “Spinnortality: crunching the numbers

  1. This is some great insight into the first returns of an indie game. I’ve been dabbling a bit myself but with a family to support, it will be a long ways off.

    Best of luck to you in the future. I love Spinnortality and am passing on the word to everyone.

  2. Can you also give a breakdown of the sales per operating system ? As a Linux gamer and spinnortality player, I’m interested in it 😉

  3. Very interesting, 7000 sales in week 1 is impressive.
    I’m curious how many wishlists you had upon release to reach that number of sales.

  4. Hi there Jamie!

    Thanks for this insight into how the game did on Steam. I’m curious if you’ve ever considered porting the game to Nintendo Switch now that the PC/Mac/Linux release is out in the wild?

    The Switch has become a decent platform for several indie developers who have released games with much success there. For example, the roguelike Tangledeep has done 23% of its PC sales in under a month on the Nintendo Switch.

    https://nintygamer.com/tangledeep-developer-interview-switch/

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    – Ashley King
    Managing Editor
    NintyGamer.com

    1. Honestly, I’ve never considered the Switch. I don’t own one and don’t have much idea of the process of getting games on there, or whether Unity can port to switch or not.

  5. “According to Steam I’ve sold 421 Mac copies and 202 Linux copies.”

    How many is that against in total? Is this still talking the first weeks figures on Steam of 7000?

  6. Calculating taxes and social insurance in Austria works like this:

    Taxable amount = Gross Revenue – expenses (or 6% flat-rate) – tax allowance (11K) – social insurance (28%)

    The tax percentage depends on that taxable amount:
    upto 11.000 € – 0% (= tax allowance)
    von 11.000 € bis 18.000 € – 25%
    von 18.000 € bis 31.000 € – 35 %
    von 31.000 € bis 60.000 € – 42 %
    von 60.000 € bis 90.000 € – 48 %
    von 90.000 € bis 1.000.000 € – 50 %
    Jahreseinkommen ab 1.000.000 € – 55 %

    Social Insurance = 28% of Gross Revenue – expenses (or 6% flat-rate) – tax allowance (11K)

    And take care, you may already pay a minimum amount of social insurance, but they will collect the rest to get to 28% in 2 years. You then have 14 days to pay that and if you cant, you are Game Over. That’s the reason why so many self-employed go out business in Austria. Best Reinhard

    1. Thanks for the very in-depth comment! I think I’m going to set up a load of spreadsheets to calculate how much social insurance I’m going to have to pay down the road. Seems like a flawed system.

      Quick question: so I get taxed based on my income *after* I’ve paid social insurance costs? I thought I got taxed just based on income – regular expenses (- tax allowance).

      1. Yes, and sometimes you can use that to your advantage. For example, your taxable amount would be 31,500€. You can prepay some social insurance to get it below 31K and therefore pay fewer taxes. But make sure to check with your accountant because I may mix some things up. I am running a GmbH and I am not doing the accounting 😉

  7. Many thanks for your article! I am also a starting developer, and the sales numbers you posted quite cheered me up.

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