Saturday, June 19, 2010

Production costs and financial returns

Seo at BGDF has a good very brief run-down of the economics of publishing.  He's left out shipping and marketing costs, which can easily eat up the meager 1/8 of the final sales price that the publisher eventually sees, not to mention the difficulties of getting distribution, the very real risk of not selling out your print run, which leaves you deep into negative territory, and paying yourself something for the effort and investment you're putting in.

How the later commenter sees this as a very good opportunity for self-publishers is beyond me...


  1. This sounds like an excellent argument to skip the distributor and retailer. Put up a simple web site and keep 100% for yourself. If your game is any good, you'll sell as many copies and not have to feel like you're working for free.

  2. That works, Dave, if you're willing to (1) pay a lot per game, like 80% of the sales price, and (2) have a small print run, like 100-300 copies. Most folks would be hard pressed to sell more than that unless they have some independent way to market their games.

    I'm definitely looking into marketing the game myself and forgoing the distributor/retailer cuts, but remember there are costs for that too - you have to have your own credit card processing, accounting, shipping, storage, etc., and you have to be on-duty all the time to fulfill individual orders and respond to questions. I ran into all of that when I sold Snood registrations back in the late 1990s.

    No easy way.

  3. If selling/making money is the prime motivation, inventing games is not the right basis for your life. Try banking.

    Assuming you're still in the game business after that revelation, then the trick is to avoid being co-opted by the business aspects. The best choice
    might be to put your design on and concentrate on promoting / perfecting it.

  4. Heh - yes, OK.

    Let's assume my goal isn't to make tons of money, but one goal is not to lose too much. And let's add in a second goal of getting my creative product, my game, out into the creative market.

    Tried the GameCrafter route. I've sold five copies in six months. I want to go bigger than that, and have a finished, commercial-quality product. Hence the rumination going on here on the blog. The post above just reflects some frustration that it's so difficult even to break even.

  5. It didn't take brilliant marketing to sell zillions of Rubik's cubes when they first appeared. A truely great product doesn't need marketing.

    There's a marginal area where good marketing can push a worthy product along, but it's very hard to be noticed in the midst of the overwhelming amount of marketing that's selling everything else; mostly trash.