The Early Access beta for Mini Metro is getting very close, which we’re getting pretty excited about. All you lovely people who pre-ordered will get to play with what we’ve been working on since alpha13 (thank you for your patience!), and Mini Metro will finally be up on Steam.
This afternoon I wanted to take a break from bug-fixing and hurried feature implementation to go through how the pre-orders have been doing, and briefly cover how the revenue has affected development.
Here is the graph of daily pre-orders from Humble from when we started accepting orders (9th of April) until today (22nd of July).
This shows the number of pre-orders, not revenue, so it doesn’t take tips into account. With only a few exceptions tips have been fairly even day-to-day.
We really had no idea what to expect when we put the widget up. Sales proved to be good for the first couple of days (165 and 146 sales), and didn’t slump off as quickly as we’d imagined. We had done nothing to promote the pre-order—we just added the widget on to the website.
The huge spike on the 20th of April was the launch of alpha9 and the revamped website. We were hoping for a surge in interest. Alpha9 was a big, much-anticipated change after the divisive alpha8, and we also took the opportunity to showcase a different map (New York City instead of London). We added a plug for the pre-order into the game-over dialog. Needless to say the figures for the next few days blew us away!
The spike on the 11th of May was directly related to this tweet:
Turns out the lead developer of Minecraft firing off a tweet about your game is worth roughly USD200. Thanks Jens!
Sales have predictably dropped off to the infamous long tail. We’re still seeing anywhere from five to 25 sales a day. It all adds up!
We’ve had a grand total of 4,608 pre-orders to date, at an average price of USD4.19 (giving us an average tip of USD0.2). The total gross is currently USD18,219.66. Once Amazon and PayPal take their cut, and a (surprisingly small!) chunk goes to Humble, that leaves a sum that’s enabled me to stay working near full-time on Mini Metro.
But what does it all mean?
We’ve been able to splash out on a number of nice-to-haves. Jamie Churchman (@gromange) came on-board as our graphic designer. He’s completely transformed the look of the game for the beta. We secured a top-notch audio designer who’s busy concepting the soundscape for the game. We coughed up the $1.5k for Unity Pro without worrying too much about how we were going to cover it.
But more importantly, it’s bought us time!
Right when the press started going nuts about Mini Metro in early March, my wife Mary and I had both been at home since December looking after our son Thomas (now two and a bit) and our newborn Elizabeth (born mid-January). We were just deciding on who was going to go back to work; I actually went to job interview the very day Mini Metro went up on Greenlight.
When the first article from the Verge went up and it became clear that Mini Metro was actually going to not only clear Greenlight and pay for itself, but potentially (and up until then, unthinkably) earn money, we decided that Mary would remain full-time stay-at-home Mum while I finished off Mini Metro. I also had to turn down a very promising, very exciting job opportunity.
As you probably know, ‘finishing off’ took a lot longer than anticipated! Originally we thought end of April, then May, then optimistically June, etc. As we’ve both been out of paid employment since December it’s taken a toll on our finances. Without the pre-orders I would have had to drop back to working on Mini Metro part-time (at best).
So a huge thank you to everyone who’s pre-ordered, or told somebody about the game, talked about it online, spread the word. We’re not a well-known developer with a long pedigree, so giving us your money is a risk and we appreciate that trust.
Ideally, the next game from Dinosaur Polo Club will be entirely self-funded. I’m one of nature’s worriers, and I’d feel much more comfortable with the typical delays of game development if people hadn’t already paid us for a product we had yet to deliver. I hate disappointing people.
One of the things I worry about is there will be people out there who have pre-ordered the game but aren’t happy with the final product; perhaps they pre-ordered based on alpha8, which is quite different to the game now.
Anyway … the rest of the dev team is going to flip when they see I’ve spent forty-five minutes writing all this when the beta’s due soon, so I’d better get back to coding!