2021 in review: Sales

2021 is coming to a close and somehow I’ve failed to post a blog since August so I figured that a year in review would be a good way to get back to it. As with last year, I’m going to break this down into three separate posts; sales numbers, publishing, general thoughts. (For 2020 you can find the three posts via these links: Earnings, Publishing and Gaming)

Sales

As always I’m going to preface this post by highlighting that as far as publishing goes I am a tiny publisher. I am neither super prolific nor followed by a lot of people, which is why I feel it’s important to highlight these numbers. Many of the indie publishers that talk numbers are pulling in substantially more than I do, having built a following or gone viral in some way. That takes a lot of work and more than a bit of luck. Right now I’m doing this as a hobby – sure I’d like to grow my numbers or appear on a ‘games you should check out’ list but that’s not my real goal and earning something off of it is a bonus. So what do those numbers look like:

Kickstarter

My big push this year was to finally publish Project Cassandra as part of Kickstarter’s ZineQuest event in February. The campaign raised £1830 thanks to the support of 175 backers. The fulfilment of the main game was complete by the start of July and as I write this I am in the final stages of layout for the stretch goal missions. For a full breakdown of the Kickstarter numbers see these two posts: Kickstarter Thoughts 1, Kickstarter Thoughts 2.

After posting the game to backers I made it available online through Ko-fi and Etsy. I’ve made 6 print and 2 digital sales via Ko-fi and a single sale via Etsy. I also made a single in-person sale while attending Dragonmeet. Those numbers, while small, are about what I expected – I just don’t have enough of a reach to be gaining regular sales and haven’t done as much as I could to promote it.

I was, however, fortunate enough to sell 20 copies of the game into retail and it is now stocked by IglooTree, Rook’s Press and Leisure Games. I have no idea how many of those have been sold but just having the support of retailers means a lot and significantly increases the chance of people spotting it and buying it.

DrivethruRPG

I made 248 sales on drivethruRPG this year, with my missions for The Sprawl being the biggest sellers. My total earnings after drivethruRPG took their cut was $400.11.

The Synth Convergence sold 91 copies while Mission Packets 1 & 2 sold 48 and 51 copies respectively. Sales of The Synth Convergence were largely driven by the trilogy being featured as Deal of the Day earlier this year (see this post for more details) while the mission packets primarily sold as part of a bundle I have collecting all three together. The Synth Divergence transmission for Technoir sold 9 copies, which was a surprise given how little I promoted it.

My two main releases this year were Project Cassandra, which sold 14 copies and Signal to Noise which sold 11 copies. Everything else I have released over the years sold less than 10 copies each, not really surprising given the fairly niche market (missions for Demon Hunters) and fact that most were listed as PWYW.

ProductPaid copies soldGross sales ($)Earnings ($)
Lockdown21.50.90
Missionary Opposition21.50.90
Talentless Hacks21.50.90
Trick of the Light21.50.90
What’s so [redacted] about [redacted]?26.03.90
Slice of Life: A Demonic Fiasco31.510.98
Channel Surfing44.952.97
The Tannhauser Investment77.805.07
The Synth Divergence: A Technoir Transmission925.3516.48
Signal to Noise1152.0033.80
Project Cassandra: Psychics of the Cold War14112.6073.19
Mission Packet 1: N.E.O.4867.2340.34
Mission Packet 2: Subversion5173.2343.94
The Synth Convergence91292.87175.85
DrivethruRPG sales stats for all titles that made at least 1 paid sale during 2021

Itch.io

I made a total of 63 sales during 2020, 19 of which were from the Epimas Christmas bundle. During 2021 that number increased to 89 but 51 of those were from the Cyber Week bundle I participated in at the end of November so my total number of independent sales was down. That, however, is only half the story as my revenue (after itch had taken its cut) increased from $114.83 to $204.65 inclusive of bundle sales. Excluding sales made as part of the Cyber Week bundle I earned $159.78, up from $91.89 in 2020 after I exclude externally organised bundles.

The Cyber Week bundle included two of my products, The Synth Convergence for The Sprawl and The Synth Divergence for Technoir, neither of which sold much outside of the bundle. The majority of my non-bundle itch income came from Project Cassandra (9 sales, $60.16) and Signal to Noise (14 sales, $69.84), the latter of which was aided by a generous tip from one contributor.

ProductPaid copies soldGross sales ($)Earnings ($)
Dr Ahoudi’s Mutant Menagerie13.52.7
What’s so [redacted] about [redacted]?37.135.28
Channel Surfing11.50.81
The Synth Divergence: A Technoir Transmission*
Signal to Noise148969.84
Project Cassandra: Psychics of the Cold War97260.16
Mission Packet 1: N.E.O.*
Mission Packet 2: Subversion*
The Synth Convergence*
Home Amongst the Stars28.56.75
The Stars Will Carry You Home110.57
Near Carbon Blades49.56.39
The Duskbringers242.65
Sprawl Mission Bundle165.44
Cyber Week bundle5150.7944.87
itch.io sales stats for all titles that made at least 1 paid sale during 2021. *item was only sold as part of a bundle

Sales round up

This year has, without a doubt, been a big step up in terms of sales. I’ve not only earned more on both drivethruRPG and itch but made the big step of running my first Kickstarter. DrivethruRPG continues to be my biggest ongoing source of revenue with The Synth Convergence making a small number of regular sales. That’s not unexpected, the missions are for one of the more popular PbtA games and benefit from its brand recognition. It helps that I’ve included mention of The Sprawl in their metadata – if you search for the game the missions come up as well. They’re discoverable. That and the amount of traffic drivethruRPG makes a massive difference to sales numbers and is a large reason why I’ll a) keep using the site and b) continue to publish material for popular games going forward.

Itch on the other hand – I like the site and their ethos but it falls down in so many ways and sales there are close to zero unless I push a game. I just don’t have the name recognition nor the desire to be constantly marketing myself in the way that the site requires. I will continue using it as I think it is a benefit to be on both but I would be surprised if it ever becomes my main source of revenue.

The big shift this year was, obviously, Kickstarter which brought in a massive earnings boost. Sales since have been modest but I expected that – just getting the support of 175 backers was phenomenal and every sale since is the icing on the cake. Getting it into retail was something I hadn’t expected and was really one of those “won’t know unless you try” things that thankfully paid off.

So that’s sales, in the next post I want to talk about publishing, both with regards to what I achieved this year and plans for 2022. That article can be found here: Publishing.

3 thoughts on “2021 in review: Sales

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