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'Media Coverage Matters': Weapon of Choice Dev

XNA Community Games' Weapon of Choice creator Nathan Fouts has discovered just how important media coverage can be to an up-and-coming indie developer.
Nathan Fouts, Insomniac Games vet and creator of the Xbox Live Community Game Weapon of Choice, has discovered on a first-hand basis the importance of media coverage for a small indie. Fouts meticulously charted sales and download trends from Weapon of Choice's November 2008 launch through March 2009 in a blog post, which showed dramatic spikes in the number of downloads, directly correlating with media coverage from gaming outlets. "I know it sounds obvious that getting media coverage should increase downloads, but occasionally you get people questioning the idea," says Fouts, who released Weapon of Choice under his company, Mommy's Best Games. "I find it comforting, like feeling terra firma beneath my feet, to see coverage pretty clearly linked with downloads, here with the real data." Weapon of Choice saw its highest amount of downloads (trials and actual purchases) shortly after the widely-covered Xbox Live Community Games launch in mid-November, with over 10,000 downloads in a single day. While the number of downloads quickly decreased day by day after that, media coverage from gaming websites and podcasts clearly helped slow the decline, sometimes driving an increase in downloads of the game as months went by. A little push from Microsoft doesn't hurt either. Mid-December saw a spike of over 2,700 downloads in a day for Weapon of Choice, thanks to a simple promotional e-mail from Microsoft to Xbox 360 owners. Out of North American and European territories where Weapon of Choice released, 76 percent of all sales were in the U.S., where conversion rates were 6.3 percent. The title sells for 400 Microsoft Points, or $5 on Xbox Live Marketplace. In March, Fouts had expressed disappointment that Weapon of Choice had failed to exceed his goal of 10,000 unit sales. Ironically, Fouts' charts show a subtle lift in downloads in the wake of the news stories covering the disappointing sales of the game.

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