Monday 13 February 2012

Proun's sales statistics after removing the free version

When I released the complete sales data of Proun last October, I also changed the payment model: I removed the free version and set a minimum price of $1, while keeping the Pay What You Want model. I promised to get back on whether that made a difference, and so I finally do today!

An important issue I see with also having the game available for free, is that it is much easier to just download that than to pay something. No need to get your Creditcard and fill in the numbers, just click the Torrent and download. So I last October I was wondering whether removing the free version would increase the revenue of the game.

This is an interesting question, because the answer is not all that obvious. Of course only a small percentage of those who would download for free, would be willing to pay otherwise. The free version doesn't bring in any money, but it does get the game played by a lot more people. This fuels word of mouth and is incredible marketing. So the free version might actually bring in more paying customers. Also, many gamers who want to try a game will just pirate it if it is not available for free. So, in total, I had no idea whether removing the free version was really a good idea or not.

So, how did it go? First, let's have a look at the graph with the revenue per week before and after the removal of the free version of Proun:

Since the sales peak at launch is enormous and makes everything else too small to analyse, I have also included a zoomed in version for the lower sales periods:

The first thing to notice here, is that Proun is still bringing in a couple hundred euro per month. For a hobby project that I did on the side next to my job at Ronimo Games, that is incredibly nice!

Now, before comparing, a couple of things need to be taken into account. I see two really big sales peaks here, and one smaller one. These are not related to whether there is a free version or not, so it is important to know them before we draw any conclusions.

So, what can we conclude from this? You can see that the average sales per week with and without the free version are approximately the same. The peaks don't really count, since the circumstances were so different there. That leaves only a couple of 'normal' weeks before the free version was removed.

So these numbers are definitely not clear enough to draw an indisputable conclusion here. However, an important thing to keep in mind is that in the past months, I have hardly done any marketing for Proun and there wasn't a whole lot of media attention for the game. Yet sales were still as good as only a couple of months after launch. Normally, I would expect sales to drop more over time, so I think this means that removing the free version added a little bit of revenue. So despite that the evidence is not clear enough to draw a certain conclusion, I think I would advice other developers that want to do Pay What You Want to not include a free version.

Feel free to draw a different conclusion from these graphs, though, and let me know your reasoning by commenting below!

The one thing I can conclude for certain here, is that it is a really good idea to release sales statistics of your game! Not only does it help other developers to make business decisions, it also made me a thousand euro through all the media attention it got. Sharing data that is normally 'secret' turns out to be great marketing! :D


  1. Put it on Steam and swim in cash!

  2. ^ This, a lot of developers are doubtful about Steam, but in the end most find it a worthwhile venture

  3. i think your conclusion is a bit off, since the game was already well known to the public when you decided to remove the free version. You can't possibly know that the revenue would be the same when you had not included the free version in your pay-what-you-want scheme from the start, so your recommendation could be misleading.
    Furthermore sales statistics worked for you because it was never done before, there are no guarantees whatsoever that it will work for others too, it might even backfire somehow; who might know?
    Its cool you're enthusiastic about it though ;)

  4. Hi Joost,

    Thanks for making this post, I have been wondering what had happened to your sales since the previous post, so it is great to see a follow up.

    I have also been wondering if you have applied to Steam or if you decided against it?

    I think there is a really interesting and valuable blog post that focuses on marketing. You did a lot of clever stuff with proun, it is clearly something you had been thinking of during development and was very bold. From our personal emails, you gave me lots of really great info. Could make quite an interesting post!

    Take care,


  5. Yeah, I was still planning on doing that marketing blogpost, somehow I didn't get to it yet. In fact, I was hoping I could share some info on how the tips I gave you worked out for Terrorhedron, so I was already planning on getting back to you on that! :)

    As for Steam: I do want to put Proun on Steam at some point, but rather in a cooler form than what the game is in now. But that is still some time away, since I am not actively working on Proun right now.

  6. That's very interesting data. I was wondering if pay-what-you-want is a good way to sell a Creative Commons-licensed video game, the kind that you can't put on Steam or XBLA. Considering this, your experiments look quite insightful.

  7. I'm working on my first commercial project and I hope to test the waters of commercial game sale. These blogposts have been invaluable in helping me figure out what to do, but I am wondering one thing. What did you do for an EULA? Did you write it yourself, did you hire a lawyer, did you adapt an already existing one? I ask because I am fairly close to release and I need an EULA.

    1. I actually didn't add an EULA at all! Don't know whether that was a wise decision, but I do consider it rather lame to have a long text that no one reads but everyone is required to agree to. Feels wrong. But I guess there is a reason everyone has them.

      Anyway, as far as I know legal documents like EULAs cannot be copyrighted, so I think you can just copy one from another game and modify it to suit your needs.

  8. Steam version!