Home Forums General General Some sales numbers

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    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    Did this a while back and people appreciated it, so figured I’d share again.
    Particularly for the benefit of those who are interested in taking a shot at publishing something themselves.

    Sales numbers off my core games (these are not including comp copies).

    FiveCore 1st edition – 479 copies (been around a long time and is dirt cheap).

    FiveCore 2nd edition – 131 (maybe I should have told people that they HAD to upgrade 🙂 )

    For the spin-offs, Company Commander has sold 154 copies and Brigade Commander 70, both of which are pretty new titles. Well within what I expected.

    Five Men in Normandy has sold 247 copies.

    No End in Sight 259 and No Stars 224 (No Stars is newer but scifi is more popular too)

    Supplements tend to sit around a quarter of main game sales, depending a bit on how fringe or needed it is.
    Five Parsecs has sold 366 copies. The supplement for that sold about a third of that number, so Five parsecs people may be a bit more loyal.

    Those sales numbers do have some overlap in customers (people who buy one game are likely to buy another) but not as much as you might think. I need to to dig into those numbers a bit more, but I’d say about half the buys of a given game is “loyalists” and the other half is not.

    Are those numbers typical?
    I have no idea. I like to think I sit in the “middle indie” tier.
    I know I’m not hitting numbers like the boys at THW or Toofatlardies but I also know I am sitting higher than a lot of other, very worthy games out there.

    Obviously, none of us are moving copies equal to something like Bolt Action or Warhammer.

    Are the numbers satisfactory?
    For sure. I eke out a part-time living which is what I set out to do.

    Are supplements not worth doing then?
    Actually they are. From my experience, you can expect about a quarter of the player base to buy them, which is probably what I expected.
    However, making a supplement (or releasing ANYTHING) tends to encourage sales elsewhere too. Maybe people just remember they had something sitting on their wishlist.

    Is pay what you want worth doing?
    Unless you have something really unique, that gets people fired up, I’d say no, not as a way to make money.
    It IS good promotion though and people appreciate getting a freebie. So it can be worthwhile doing in that sense, and I’ll continue doing so.

    When I do a little thing as a pay what you want, usually it breaks down like:
    50% download for free.
    40% download for an amount that is equal or less than the “suggested price”. I’d say about half is typical but I didn’t crunch the numbers too closely.
    10% will pay a bit extra and occasionally someone will pay a fair chunk extra.

    I havent tried “pay what you want” for a full-blown game. I may try it as a side project and see what happens but I’d be hesitant staking my ability to pay bills on it.

    Is this useful at all? Anything you’d like to know? Your own experiences as a publisher?

    As an aside, I would LOVE to see similar talk and some numbers from some of the miniatures manufacturers too.

    Avatar photoNathaniel Weber

    Great info, Ivan.

    I have one rules set for sale on Wargame Vault, “A Sergeant’s War.” To date, it has sold 50 copies (2 months).  I think I may have sold a few more had I priced it $9.99 initially instead of $11.99.

    I have sold 12 copies of “Row by Row,” a scenario pack for ASW and instructions for converting to other games. That would fit the 25% schema that Ivan’s encountered for supplements.

    I have several more WWII supplements in mind, and the sci-fi version of ASW, “Off World” is getting pretty close to release.

    Interestingly, according to the traffic-monitoring page on the Vault, most of my sales have been generated from users of the website seeing my game on the Vault’s homepage—not from other online sources, where I post AARs and blurbs about the game.

    I would like to make enough from these to serve as some part-time income, but will need to release more games before that’s a possibility. But it’s quite satisfying when you receive an email from a gamer happy with your game, and when you get money for doing something fun, so I’m happy.


    Avatar photoshelldrake

    Good numbers for No end In Sight, and given how new Brigade Commander is, it seems to be doing well too.

    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    Yeah, it’s moving at a good pace.

    We’ll have to see how long-term viable it is, but I think the fact that it hits a bit of an under-covered niche is a good thing too.

    Avatar photokyoteblue

    Glad you like your numbers !!! I would buy more if I knew how too.


    Avatar photoCerdic

    Thanks for this info. I suspect most of us have absolutely no idea how many copies a set of rules will sell. This is an interesting insight!

    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    I’m sure one of the long timers like Mustafa can pitch in and show me up 🙂

    Avatar photoSam Mustafa

    I’m sure one of the long timers like Mustafa can pitch in and show me up


    Well, the only comment I could offer is that the sheer number of sales is not necessarily an indication that the game is more profitable or successful.  It depends upon your costs, obviously.

    If you sell 1000 copies of a game that costs you thirty grand to produce… then that’s probably not as good as selling 200 copies of a PDF that cost you nothing to produce.

    It has taken me years, but I think I’ve finally got a sound understanding of what the market can bear, how much I dare invest, how many I should print, and so on.  And I suspect that those sorts of answers are different for each publisher, given the idiosyncrasies of his niche.

    I’ve made some big mistakes along the way and left a lot of money on the table.  But since there’s no “How To” book for small game publishers, I’m afraid that learning on the job is the only way to do it.


    I hesitate to use the word “Indie” since pretty much everybody in this business could be described as “Indie” except perhaps Perry Bros, Battlefront, Osprey, Slitherine, and GW.  The label I’d use to categorize my business is:  part-timer,  since game publishing is not my main source of income.


    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    Appreciate your insights.
    You do bring up a very good point: It’s not just copies sold, it’s also, at least from a financial perspective, costs versus investments.

    I try to run on a “no cost” basis (other than time) where I invest as little as possible, mostly as a failsafe enabling me to simply walk away, if the need ever arises.
    Obviously that also limits the things you can do, in return.

    It’s all trade offs and balances 🙂

    I agree with you that it’s very much a school of hard knocks. I want to try to shed a bit of light where I can, so others can hopefully have an easier time of it 🙂

    Avatar photoAngel Barracks

    Ivan, would you be interested in seeing the stats for KR 16?
    It may be interesting to compare a simple free format vs. a professional paid for document?

    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    <p data-wr_replaced=”true”>Ivan, would you be interested in seeing the stats for KR 16? It may be interesting to compare a simple free format vs. a professional paid for document?

    Sure, the more the merrier. KR16 has been around for a while and I see it popping up on forums a lot.

    Avatar photoAngel Barracks

    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    Veeeeery nice 🙂

    Avatar photoAngel Barracks

    I think it shows that free things are popular, and that people prefer rules over other things.

    Quite telling is FEB where only about 1/3rd of the people that DL the rules bothered with Point Values.

    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    <p data-wr_replaced=”true”>I think it shows that free things are popular, and that people prefer rules over other things.
    <p data-wr_replaced=”true”>Quite telling is FEB where only about 1/3rd of the people that DL the rules bothered with Point Values.

    Something costing ANYTHING will immediately cut out a lot of people, because a lot of people might want to take a look but not really invest in anything.

    Very interesting on the points values. Now the real question (which is probably hard to answer) is:

    Would some of the people have not downloaded it, if there were no points values?
    Were there people that didn’t download it, because they saw there were points values?

    My gut feeling is that an optional points system won’t lose a sale/download but having one might earn you one.

    Avatar photoAngel Barracks

    That is pretty much why I did it, some people asked about them.
    Normally I would not have bothered as that is not the point (pun intended) of KR 16.

    However, it tied in nicely with my campaign system as I needed a way to spend Victory Points.

    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    A long time ago, we had tested a few games (scifi, if I remember right) where we’d use the points system from one game in another (approximating figures as well as we could).

    The results were still pretty okay, which convinced me that points systems aren’t really that scientifically rigorous 🙂

    When I did the values for NSIS, I put down what I thought looked right, then we went back through playtest AAR’s and calculated those and they were usually pretty close.
    A few things got adjusted here and there.

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