Last year, indie developer Hitbox Team released their first game, Dustforce, on Steam. A little over a year later, Hitbox Team is happily reporting on their financial success and providing valuable feedback to other developers within the indie game scene.
In a blog post, on the official Hitbox Team website, developer Terence Lee went into detail about the specifics of the team’s financial strategy going into developing their first game as a team, and the inspiring outcome of their risky endeavor.
“Now that we’ve finished our own first project, we’d like to contribute our own data about Dustforce to the growing trend of transparency in indie game development,” Lee explains. He goes onto explain that the origins of Dustforce began in the rush to complete the original prototype in the months leading up to the 2010 IndiePub Games Independent Game Developers Competition. In the end, the prototype won the team a $100,000 check, and armed with financial stability, the team was able to completely focus on developing their prototype into the game as it exists today.
Though, Lee pointed out, just like motivation and patience, money will eventually run out, and so the team set a strict deadline: have Dustforce completed by January 2012. An invitation by Valve to release Dustforce on Steam and some positive press following the prototype’s award provided the extra boost to get the project rolling.
Lee goes on to discuss how the four-man team figured out living expenses, and established monetary goals that Dustforce would have to meet, in order to be considered a financial success.
“We had no idea what to expect. We could only speculate, using sparse data points and ballpark figures. Was the past year and a half worth it? Of course it was, —we worked the hardest any of us have ever worked, and we created something we were truly proud of. Yet, there was a lingering uncertainty of financial expectations. Our goal was to just make enough money to be able to do it again. If we could work on our next project independently and without being restricted by a financial cut-off date, then we’d consider Dustforce a financial success.”
Nine days following Dustforce’s January 17th, 2012 release date, the game was a financial success. After the initial surge of post-launch sales, Dustforce was selling 30-50 copies daily. Then, in the first week of May, Hitbox Team got their first taste of a Steam Sale.
“Over the 3 days of the promotion, we sold 17,462 copies of the game, more than the amount we sold during the first 3 days of the January launch. Of course, at 50% off, the revenue was a bit less, but it was still an instant 37% boost in lifetime revenue.”
When the Humble Bundle 6 launched in September of last year, Dustforce was one of the games included. The Humble Bundle promotion not only brought Hitbox Team roughly $153,915, but they also saw an uptick in Steam sales, following the conclusion of the promotion.
“Dustforce was our first finished game, and we went into it without much experience, especially in the business side of things. Through this project, we learned firsthand that time is money, and that sacrifices have to be made when resources are limited…We are really grateful to have a strong start, and are very happy with how the game turned out…We are all humbled and elated by how well Dustforce has been received. The joy from our players is enough to keep us making games, —the financial success is just an incidental blessing.”
In January, following the one-year anniversary of Dustforce’s release, Hitbox Team announced their next title, Spire.