So you are about to release your indie
game and all that goes through your mind is: How will my game do? Is it going to
sell? How much money will I make?
The best way to get an idea is by following other
indie games and learning from their experience. In this video, we'll take a look at several
indie game revenues and look at how much revenue the developers actually made – some
an estimate and some to the actual dollar. All the devs that made this list have
been very open with their numbers, putting them out in Steam posts, dev blogs,
and even videos. We love this practice as it gives other indie developers better chances at
achieving successful launches of their own.
We are Ask Gamedev and these are 6
Real Examples of Indie Game Revenues
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First up on our list, THE hugely successful
Norse mythology-inspired phenomenon: Valheim. At the time of this writing,
it's been almost 2 months since Iron Gate Studio's unsuspected giant was released,
and it has sold over six million copies with no signs of stopping there. Valheim is an
exploration and survival adventurous sandbox set in a procedurally generated representation
of The Tenth World – a forever drifting Viking purgatory, where players will
have to prove their worth to Odin in order to ascend to Valhalla alone… (or with
friends, thanks to its online-coop mode.)
Iron Gate Studio, the Swedish dev
responsible for bringing Valheim to life, is made up of an astonishing number of 5 people.
This fact has put them and their publisher Coffee Stain Studios into the spotlight, as they
ascend at the same sales speed as The Witcher 3, which also sold six million copies early
into its release.
By comparison though, over a thousand people were involved in
the Witcher 3’s production globally.
But, how much money did Valheim really make? The
devs are yet to announce their development costs and final return, however, they are very
open about their sales units week by week. Sebastian Badylak from Coffee Stain Studios said
"We all had high hopes for Valheim and we really, really thought it would perform
super well, but this is beyond anything we could have ever imagined."
And he's not exaggerating! With Valheim's price at $19.99 right now, those six million copies
sold can translate up to over $100,000,000. Take Steam's and the publisher's cut, factor
in region pricing, and you’re still left with a hefty sum for the 5 game developers, and
should we say 5 Vikings worthy of Valhalla. Oh, and the game is still in early access…
you can pick upValheim on Steam now.
2021 appears to be a booming year for indie
The next title on our list was released on March 4th, and in under a month, has already
surpassed the milestone of having a 500,000 player base. Loop Hero is a roguelike deck
building strategy RPG filled with all sorts of old-school 2D visuals, fresh animations,
and a set of innovative gameplay mechanics. The premise? simple enough: Become a hero
and save the world, while walking in loops. Behind this simple idea, hides a deep story about
regaining memory and overcoming despair.
Loop Hero was developed by Four Quarters, a team
of four young developers who previously made the 2015 experience, "Please, Don’t Touch Anything".
The game was born out of a failed attempt at Ludum Dare 45. Not giving up, the devs continued
through their loop again, completed their story, pitched the demo to Devolver Digital, and
received a contract almost immediately.
After 17 months in development, Loop Hero is
now available in Steam, the Epic Games Store, GoG, and Humble. It has sold more
than 500,000 copies worldwide and counting! Not bad for a failed Game Jam, huh?
Making its 3rd appearance in an Ask Gamedev video, the next game in our list is Hive Time by Two Lof
We got to know Cheeseness and Mimness about a year ago when their game was mentioned
in our 2020 Godot Game Engine Showcase, and we are still excited about their work. Hive
Time is a Hive-building strategy game about not only building a beehive but managing
its resources and population, facing disasters to the beats of some spectacular tunes
reminiscent of the first Simcity entries.
One of the devs at Two Lof bees, Cheeseness
published a detailed assessment of notes and facts about his finances. As an example, we
can find how they got to the suggested price point of $10 USD on Itch. He also details how
he designed a zero-dollar budget model to work in a six-month development timeline. What did he
do to accomplish this? He donated his own time, calculating how many hours he would work
at a certain hourly rate. This helped him to determine the game's price as well. In
the end, the budget for Hive Time was $4,174.52 mainly due to the music composition costs.
Called by Rock Paper Shotgun "An Obscure Gem", Hive time has been downloaded more than 40,000
times from itch.io and is owned by an extra 815,000 users that purchased Itch’s Bundle
for Racial Justice and Equality. The game is sold on Itch via a “Pay What You Want Model” and
has made a bit more than 750 full-priced sales. According to Cheese, he's still been "unable
to approach anything near covering development costs". This doesn't mean he's giving up. His
assessment reflects great growth on a personal and professional level, and we at Ask Gamedev
can’t wait for them to generate more buzz.
Ever wonder how much money a monochromatic
8-bit-nostalgia shoot-em-up about a food-spitting toaster can make? Well, we did. The fourth
entry on this list is Toast time, by solo-based studio Force of Habit.
Released in September
2013 for Android and later ported to iOS, Steam, Humble, and Nintendo Switch, Toast Time
has had quite some time to mature and show some meaningful results. Its developer Ashley Gwinnell,
recently published a video on Force of Habit's YouTube channel in which he breaks down several
sales figures and recaps the game’s progress throughout its seven years of life.
The title was developed by a team of two: Ashley and his friend Nick, with whom he'd
worked with in several game jams prior. In terms of time, the game took over 8 months
At the end of development, they calculated they would have to recoup
16,000 pounds or 27,000 Dollars to break even with development costs. This meant selling
11,500 units priced at 1.99 pounds each.
So how did they do?
* On Android they sold $10,500 USD
* On iOS they made $19,100 USD
* They won the Intel Level Up Prize for $2,000 USD.
* Winning this granted them access to publish with Steam, where they made $4,170 USD.
* Later the game was included in Humble and Indie Gala Bundles which added another $8,450 USD to the basket.
* Lastly, the game was ported to Nintendo switch where it is slowly gathering new followers,
having sold $2,754 USD and counting.
Over the years, the development costs ascended
to $38,385 and the sales have returned $36,106 to their pockets. Keep in mind their costs are mainly
made of the time they've invested in the game, so Force of Habit has been able
to keep on developing new games thanks to this return on investment.
Some clever tips given by the dev after doing this analysis are
* 1. Hold off on putting your game on discounts and
* 2. Don't quit your job.
Next up on our list is Mortal Glory by Redbeak
Games, a solo developed fantasy-themed tactical roguelike game about training gladiators
and throwing them into an arena to fight for your name.
Arm them with legendary weapons
and magical spells, recruit celebrities, and even cheat to get the glory you deserve.
Mortal Glory was created over the course of nine months by Auro, a dev with no previous development
experience. Using Unity for the first time, and working during his free time (while keeping up
with his full-time job), Auro managed to build his very first game arming himself with a great set of
free tools. He used Paint.net for his pixel art, Inkscape for his titles and vector art, GIMP
for his concept art, and Audacity for his audio. He also built a custom python script that
would track his working hours on the game and later on be able to calculate his return.
So, did Mortal Glory survive its first round at the indie arena and bring glory to its master?
Over its first year in Steam, Mortal Glory not only reached a very positive rating but also made
a total revenue of $128,884 USD! Auro will receive $76,592 USD after Steam’s cut, returns and taxes.
After that, $3,174 USD will be used to cover his development expenses and $18,355 to cover income
taxes, leaving the dev and his game studio with $55,000 USD or, as he calculated, a $33
hourly wage for his work on Mortal Glory. Auro is building a solid gamedev channel on
Youtube full of tips and tricks from his first experience as a game developer, we'll leave
a link to it in the description below.
Topping our list with one of the greatest indie
hits in the last decade, we’ve got Stardew Valley from solo developer Eric Barone and published by
Chucklefish. The idea for Stardew Valley was born when Eric got obsessed with paying tribute to
the many hours he had spent playing the Harvest Moon franchise in his younger days. The dream
was to build the ultimate farming experience, and he went way beyond that.
In Stardew Valley
your main goal is to set up a thriving home in which to farm and live your life to the fullest.
This includes crafting, mining, exploring caves, fishing, building, fighting monsters, making
friends, dating, getting married, having children, cooking, having a pet and more!
Eric established his studio ConcernedApe, and he self-imposed himself to work 10 hours daily
during the four years it took him to develop his dream game.
In an interview with Gamasutra, he
admitted his working time just increased to 15 daily hours when the game was released. Stardew
Valley was released in February 2016 and during its first year, it earned over 30 million
dollars across PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation. During the following years, the farming craze
spread to Android, iOS, and Nintendo Switch. By the time the game turned 4 years old in 2020, it
had sold 10 million copies across all platforms. In 2021, the game is still selling and it has
also spawned a brilliant board game, announced in February and already sold out in March!
ConcernedApe sure achieved his dream and will be harvesting from it for quite a long time.
Thanks for watching! For more Ask Gamedev check out this video on Marketing Mistakes,
or this list on Video Game Budgets..