[casual_games] RE: Ballpark figures for sales volume

Matthew Ford matthew at fordfam.com
Tue Jan 3 23:59:42 EST 2006

Hi again everyone, happy new year! 


I sent the post below when many were away on holiday. I got some good
responses (direct to me, not to list), very much appreciated. I know that
this info might be seen as giving away a competitive advantage but I think
in this forum we have more to gain by sharing and collectively
growing/maturing the industry. (Easy for me to say, I know.) Keep in mind I
just seek very general figures to make sure I have the right number of
zeroes on my various rough estimates.


Before I start to roll the info I got into my rough plans I'm wondering if
anyone else wants to add their own take. See my original post below for more
details on the question and some parameters.


As a related question, I'd appreciate ballpark figures for advertising
revenue received from banners and interstitials placed on and around a
similar game title but hosted on one's own site as a free web game. I've
heard assertions such as "$.20 per play session is pretty easy to get" but
not sure if you all agree, and what is the multiplier used to figure out the
revenue-that is, how many play sessions (unique hits) one would expect to
see racked up on one good game. Opinions on financial tradeoffs for money
spent advertising one's site vs. money received from the eyeballs that
result would help as well.


Thanks again for your help.


Matthew Ford

Digital Game Director and Designer

Brisbane, Australia

Contact me at  <mailto:M at F.com> M at F.com where M is my first name and F is
the domain "fordfam".



From: Matthew Ford [mailto:matthew at fordfam.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, 28 December 2005 4:43 PM
To: (casual_games at igda.org)
Subject: Ballpark figures for sales volume


Hello all, happy holidays and all that! 37 degrees Celsius (~100F) here in
Brisbane, Australia, sweating to the Xmas carols during holiday break from
my day job. On vacation from a games job and spending it thinking about
games; I guess I am truly hooked. :-)


I have a simple question. I'm looking ahead to the new year during which
I'll moonlight on side development projects, some of which are casual
web-based and downloadable Flash games as discussed here. Part of my
decision is based on the cost and revenue potentials for my various possible
side projects. So my question is, as I do very rough ballpark figures:


How many units does a reasonably good casual action game sell across a
typical array of channels? How much revenue comes to the developer as a


Hugely open-ended I know and based on a thousand factors. But right now I
can't even be sure how many zeroes to put onto the ballpark figures I am
using, so any data, freighted with caveats, is better than what I've got. To
help narrow it down I'll pre-answer a few questions I'm guessing you all
would have:

*	I'd self-fund the development and come to the distributors with a
finished game (but for the specific DRM and QA they demand).
*	Made with Flash to be played on PCs and Macs (no mobile or other
platforms at first).
*	I am agnostic about exclusives vs. multiple distributors.
*	I'd want to own all the IP.
*	Let's say the game in question is a fast-moving
manipulate-the-shapes puzzly game, in the rough category of (but entirely
different in gameplay from) Tetris and its family.

*	As bonus data to use with other game concepts, I'd love to hear how
expected sales would differ if the genre were 1) turn-based jigsaw-puzzly;
2) rollercoaster-tycoon-ish; 3) mystery-solving; 4) oldstyle graphic

*	I'd create the usual array of versions: web-playable with limited
content plus free-download-playable with time or content lock, unlockable
upon paid license.
*	For now just assume that I kind of know what I'm doing, as hard as
that may be to believe given my cluelessness in this new area to which I
hope to apply my game dev knowledge. ;)


In the the IGDA whitepaper I did not find any figures to use here. With my
best Google Desktop searching of emails on this list and some of the sites
pointed to, the only volume quote I've seen so far is "As I understand it, a
downloadable game which has maybe 200,000 downloads in a year with a 1 to 3%
conversion rate is doing extremely well  ". I've also heard of a 1%
download-to-purchase conversion rate and 30%-50% revenue share to the
developer. That all may be the right ballpark but I (and hopefully others on
this list) would benefit from a few more voices to put hard figures into the


I'm not looking for anyone's trade secrets here and I'm not expecting
anything precise, just a ballpark average within a factor of two so I can
start to play with numbers that will help me decide how to direct my efforts
in the coming year of moonlighting. After all, I could always go into alpaca
farming instead. :-)


Matthew Ford

Digital Game Director and Designer

Brisbane, Australia

Contact me at  <mailto:M at F.com> M at F.com where M is my first name and F is
the domain "fordfam".


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