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Frozen Synapse makes over $300,000 in direct sales alone

Wed 30 Nov 2011 10:12am GMT / 5:12am EST / 2:12am PST
GamesDevelopment

$140,000 cost for indie title more than doubled, before Steam sales are counted

Indie developer Mode 7 has more than doubled its investment on PC exclusive Frozen Synapse in just five months, raising over $300,000 in direct sales from the game's website alone, from a title which cost just $140,000 to make.

That number doesn't include any of the profits from Steam or other distribution services either, which contribute significantly to the 300,000 plus unit sales for the game.

In a post-mortem blogpost for industry analysis site GamesBrief, Paul Taylor of Mode 7 reveals that many of those 300,000 copies were sold at a discount, but that the company has also vastly exceeded its own sales target of 100,000 copies within the first year.

Taylor says his company was targeting a specific audience, a core PC gaming crowd which would be willing to pay more than the usual indie price for a game with a rich feature set. The aim was to do this without major marketing expenditure and using entirely digital distribution.

The first boost for the studio was a 'paid-for beta', which raised over $135,000 by following the model so successfully utilised by Mojang for Minecraft, in which players essentially place a pre-order for a final release by paying for an unfinished version, to be updated later.

Once full version sales had begun, Taylor claims that a combination of PR and pricing deals saw the best rates of return, with the game occupying a slot on Steam's 'most bought' list for some days.

Already working on its next title, the studio has firm plans for the future.

"Frozen Synapse has, in no way, hit is full potential yet," writes Taylor. "Sales continue to be strong and even held up during events like the Humble Bundle: most indie games hit a tiny fraction of their potential market, so we have to keep working on new ways to reach new players.

"Our iPad version has brought a whole new set of opportunities for PR, and I will also be looking into advertising, website optimisation and further deals to entice new users in the near future.

"We wanted to make a game with an aesthetic that wouldn't date, so it would continue to sell five or even ten years into the future - my hope is that it will be around for a long time to come."

Frozen Synapse, Taylor believes, marks a seachange at the company which has resulted in a new maturity and preparedness for future ventures.

"Frozen Synapse was a labour of love which marked our transition from a low-grade indie company to fully-functional business. Even though the game continues to make a good profit, this transition was by far the most important result.

"It took over four years - on and off - to create, so now our major challenge is to improve the time it takes to develop games without compromising on the results. Learning to grow and manage an increasingly complex business is a huge challenge, but one we relish."

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