In a postmortem published over the Thanksgiving holiday, the creators of Tale Of Tales' thought-provoking art game The Graveyard detail what went right and wrong
in the title's genesis, revealing funding wins, download statistics, and more.
While all of the sections of the postmortem are interesting, the comments on downloads
of the PC/Mac title, which was free to play but cost $5 to upgrade to the full version, were particularly interesting:
"In the absence of publishers or portals, we distributed The Graveyard virtually exclusively from our own website. As mentioned above, the script we had written to count the number of downloads failed several times.
The total number of downloads we recorded so far is around 120,000. But the real number is likely to be a bit higher, since we literally lost count a few times.
One of the remarkable outcomes of this project for us is how successful it was with Mac OS users. It was the first game we ever released for that platform and a quarter of the downloads came from Mac users (well over the 7 or 8% market share that Mac supposedy has, which seems to correlate with our website's visitors). And it gets better when we start looking at sales figures.
In raw figures The Graveyard did not sell well. If it would have been a commercial project, it would have failed. To date we sold 400 copies -- enough to by a new TV, but far from sufficient to sustain our company.
As to be expected, most of these sales happened in the first two months after the release. After that, the "long tail" kicks in. In the first two months we sold well over the amount of copies that we sold in the subsequent half year.
The question is now how long this tail will become. Not that there is even a remote chance that The Graveyard could become a commercial success. If the current rate of sales would continue (unlikely), we would have made our development budget back in 15 years!
Currently, in our long tail, we're selling an average of 25 copies per month. At this rate, we would need to have 60 games on sale to keep our company afloat. And at the three months of production time that it took to make The Graveyard, it would take us 15 years to create 60 games."
You can now read the full Gamasutra postmortem of The Graveyard
, including lots more detail on the game's genesis, plus bonus interviews with several of the auxiliary staff who worked on the game.