The Second Annual Report
  of
  Harmony Zone

















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In which I reveal the only reason I did the last one was to set up a Throbbing Gristle joke a year in advance, well, they say you should never give anyone a break and this is why. Here are some updates on my game figures in ye Christ Childe's Year of 2017.

MAGIC WAND:
Itch:


Gamejolt:


(revenue figures prior to storefront+payment service cuts)

This came out in August and was more or less all I tried to sell that year. Sales to date are 561 copies- 544 on itch.io, where I did the main launch, 17 through gamejolt which I added later partly to have an excuse to tweet about the game again. Overall the game has done a bit better in five months than 50 Short Games has in three years, although I suspect a large part of this is that being a Unity game it has Linux and Mac support built in. It also sold at a slightly higher price, both because a cut was going towards Tom for the soundtrack and also because it felt to me like a slightly "meatier" product, so the fact that volume remained so similar was interesting - the rise in price might also have been disguised by the fact that there are many more "alt games" retailing at this price or higher these days. After all it is only 5 and surely your old, dear friend, Stephen, is worth this, to all of you [fixed smile, eyes grow increasingly glassy as total silence continues from "audience"].

SALES:
As a commercial title this game was a bit of a mixed bag, neither fish nor fowl as they say, since it was too goofy to pass as a straight genre product but didn't have an immediate conceptual hook for novelty factor. I've heard from a few other people making what I would say are kind of similar games (viz, loosely narrative longform things in the no-man's land between established genre and high-concept stuff) that their total sales amounted to more or less the same as mine - 500 copies, regardless of whether the game was on Steam or not. So by these standards it did well- either it got a higher amount of itch/gamejolt traffic or more likely whoever plays these things (the same 500 people every time??) are relatively flexible when it comes to storefronts. I haven't quit my day job so my private dream goal for sales was 750. It didn't get there although the tail is longer than expected and I suspect would have been more so if I'd done any sales, etc. I am generally resistant to the idea of a "sale" for things that cost under $10 but will maybe think about it in the future. Everyone loves sales.

RECEPTION:
Reception was OK, I got the impression less people wrote about it than 50SG but this is not startling when you consider more longform format, comparative opacity and the fact there are more colourful homebrew games around these days. It stuck out to me that many places that posted it did it without having seemed to have played it which also makes sense for the above reasons. Even in general I would say that from any website a general announcement / news post is the most you are going to get unless you are unlucky enough to generate a think piece. Those who played it and talked about it on social media seemed to enjoy the game although it was hard to tell since I stopped searching for "magic wand" after the first two days for reasons which will be selfevident for anyone who tries tracking that term. The comment sections for the news sites, and a few RPG focused sites outside of "alt games", seemed entirely baffled by the graphical style. Interestingly a few Let's Play people picked it up and their audiences seemed to enjoy it more, which I take to be a combination of the soundtrack (most people's favourite part!!) and also of having more time to see what it was about. There were some minor sale pickups after some of the videos but nothing huge. Re. the complaint about Let's Plays for narrative games giving the entire story away, an advantage of this game is that the story is incomprehensible and the levels were put together so that you'd just be able to go back and drift through them again if you ever felt the urge, so I did not feel it suffered from this effect.

DISTRIBUTION:
For the most part the channel for game was my personal twitter account, with a few posts on my tumblr account as well, and this still holds - whenever a bunch of new people follow the account, I get one or two extra sales on account of the pinned tweet linking the game, etcetera. And whenever I tweeted about it there'd be a tiny spike in pickups as well although I tried not to abuse this as with great power comes great responsibility. For press contacts I just used emails. I didn't talk to any Youtube people although some knew about the game thru my previous stuff. In terms of festivals, awards etc I mostly did not bother as this is an RPG and so the target audience is people who do not leave the house. But also the extremely idiosyncratic camera controls and general diffuseness of narrative make it easier to get into at home than by trying it in some public venue. I will probably avoid this in future, also so I can show it to non-games people. If there are any future zine fairs in Dublin I will likely try selling a few physical copies there, but no real plans for a disk in the meantime.

Thus endeth Magic Wand. In terms of the other games there was not much movement.



50 Short Games - Itch:



50 Short Games - Gamejolt:






Mouse Corp - Itch:



Mouse Corp - Gamejolt:



I was surprised when putting 50 Short Games and Mouse Corp on the Gamejolt market resulted in a bunch of extra sales for these old games - it is probably a combination of two slightly different userbases (studenty art types on itch, more broadly homebrew on GJ) and also my having most of my older games on GJ, so anyone who followed the my account there back in the day was more likely to see. There were also some other Let's Plays of those games which led to little bubbles.



MISC THOUGHTS:
None of my games are on Steam and I continue to be chary of that platform as a venue for nontraditional small homebrew stuff - they've had a habit in the past of implementing sudden policy changes that disproportionately affect small devs with little notice or transparency (the arbitrary $100 greenlight pricegate, changes on rules around publishers, the 2hr refund period, the ban on reviews from people who played a game outside of steam, etc) and have generally never given me the impression of regarding games outside of a fairly conservative remit as anything but an unfortunate byproduct of getting in the Stardew Valleys and suchlike. I don't think ""experimental games"" can be made sustainably if they have to rely for their livelihoods on a single big storefront which would throw them all under a bus if it meant getting to sell more copies of Overwatch. That being said, I sold c500 copies of my game outside Steam three years ago, and I sold c500 copies of my game outside Steam this year, and I have no idea if that's a hard limit of the games themselves or of the means by which I'm selling them. So assuming it's doubtful I'm taking any kind of business away from the smaller platforms at this point I'd like to try putting Magic Wand on "greenlight" sometime this year and test out the waters. If it works out maybe I can continue premiering stuff on smaller sites and then moving to larger ones a couple months afterwards, if not then evidently nothing was lost.

In the meantime I work on other games, it's still a plan of mine to see if I can develop on experiences at the zine fairs at all, so this is determining a lot of what I shoot for currently - stuff that can be put on disks, have simpler controls, are more fluid and less gamey, etc. We will see. In the meantime everyone at Harmony Corp wishes you and yours a happy and prosperous new financial year.







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