Microsoft has released sales figures for its Xbox Live Community Games service, and some of the developers who took a risk on the program are finding themselves disappointed with the results.
Xbox Live Community Games are not proving themselves the "ticket to fame" for indie developers that Microsoft had boasted it would, recently released sales figures show. Though Microsoft said at GDC 09 that several "top sellers will be taking home more income from four months of sales than the average U.S. citizen earns in a full year," well, that's not enough for some devs who find themselves faced with the steep price of funding a full-fledged game on their own.
One of those developers is Mommy's Best Games, who are responsible for over-the-top sidescroller Weapon of Choice. Weapon of Choice sold less than 10,000 units, a result that studio head Nathan Fouts called "sobering." According to Fouts, with Microsoft taking a 30% split, royalties owed to contractors, taxes and other miscellaneous costs, it's hard to see the title as a financial success.
"What all that means to our bottom-line, we do not yet know, but it does not feel great," Fouts wrote.
Weapon of Choice received a fair degree of attention from the press, and Fouts says that, by Microsoft's standards, it can be considered a top seller. That's not the case for another Community Game, caffeine monster software's DUOtrix. According to creator Mobeen Fikree, while the demo of DUOtrix was downloaded 7,438 times, the full game only sold 157 copies. That's a conversion rate normal for downloadable games, Fikree admits, but he still thinks there's an issue with the way Community Games is run.
"I think DUOtrix quickly got lost in the flood of games on XBCG," Fikree said. "We were on the 'featured 5' list on the Community Games page at launch, which is where most of the traffic came from. When we were pulled off the list in December the downloads slowed down dramatically."
Nevertheless, both Fikree and Fouts are far from giving up. Fouts has actually already begun production on his next game. "Maybe rational people hang up their keyboard and call it quits," he said. "But if you played Weapon of Choice, you realize we're far from rational."