The New Dash Effect on XBLIG
Anyone using an Xbox 360 knows Microsoft buried the XBLIG section with their most recent update. I’ve been saying for a little while now that it has really hurt new release trials but until now, I haven’t given any facts to back that up.
The below graph features the first full day and full week for each of my XBLIG releases (Trivia or Die went live late in the day and thus it’s technical first day trials were not indicative of a full day’s worth of trials, so I opted to use the second day instead).
My first game Nasty was released in the early days of XBLIG. People were still discovering the service and the number of games was not nearly as high as it is now. Abduction Action! and Hypership Out of Control were released at possibly the peak of the service. Lots of good games by good developers were released at this time.
Shortly after the release of Hypership Out of Control, Microsoft did some dash reorganization. I believe that’s why my next two releases Trivia or Die and Volchaos saw 2,000+ decreases in first week trials over what Abduction Action! received (I should note that despite the lower first week trials, Trivia or Die is my top selling XBLIG release by a wide margin).
Hypership Still Out of Control was released with the latest dash changes that have gone even further in burring the service. The Hypership to Hypership Still comparison is likely the most telling here. Both games have similar box art. The in-game artwork for Hypership Still Out of Control has been vastly improved. Hypership Still Out of Control is the better game. I would expect similar or slightly better sales numbers if all other factors were equal. The original game was downloaded 374 more times the first day of release and 1,506 more times over the first full week. The first full week of Hypership Still Out of Control trial downloads was barely as much as the first day of Hypership Out of Control downloads.
Some other random observations:
Ultimately I do not believe the XBLIG market is growing. I believe these numbers show that. I believe the biggest factor is Microsoft's burying of XBLIG. Even with Volchaos-like trials, I was not making enough sales to run a profitable game studio. Certainly with Hypership Still Out of Control trial downloads, I have no chance. And that's why I've moved on.
- Some of my games were picked up and promoted in IGN.com / Kotaku lists which did help. In most instances this was after a week so the list effect is minimal. Hypership Still Out of Control is currently on Kotaku’s list for the past 2 days. I can likely attribute 5 to 10 sales from my spot on this list over the past two days. This list on previous dashes did much more to help game sales.
- The Top Downloads list was broke for the entire first week of Volchaos’s release. Trials likely would have been higher if it were not.
- Between my games and others I’ve seen, shooters have a tough time selling on XBLIG. There are certainly some that do well but it’s an uphill battle in a crowded market. Even with the new dash, Hypership Still Out of Control likely would have only beaten out the original Hypership in trials.
- Hypership Out of Control on iOS (same graphics as Hypership Still Out of Control) sold 1,985 copies in its first week of release. There is no trial mode, each of those sales were $1. Additionally we gave away Hypership iOS for free for 1 day only and it was downloaded 12,000 times, more than any full week of trial XBLIG downloads.
- Some people may say people didn’t download Hypership Still Out of Control because they had played the original. Only 7,000 people ever downloaded the original Hypership on XBLIG out of millions of Xbox users. I don’t buy it.
- Fun Infused Games (my studio) is more widely known now than it was when we releases the original Hypership. That’s another thing Hypership Still Out of Control had going for it but it still failed to come close to the original game’s trial numbers.
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