Saturday Morning RPG Dev Warns Bundles Can Kill Sales
Independent developer Mighty Rabbit Studios published a blog post, reported by Gamasutra, which warns fellow game makers about putting their titles in bundles. It faults the financial issues of one of its titles to having it appear in a package deal early on in its existence.
Its property, Saturday Morning RPG, was featured in the Indie Gala Rise of Flight sale that ran from February of this year until somewhere in March. It launched on Steam at the end of January.
A sales chart of Saturday Morning RPG shows that the appearance of the game in the Indie Gala sale wasn’t doing a lot for spiking the line, but did end up keeping it flat a long time after that. Josh Fairhurst of Mighty Rabbit Studios points out that they received $0.09 per copy sold in the bundle.
In the criticism, the developer notes that a bundle kills sales in the long term, because it favors resellers by buying in bulk. Discounts are offered on Indie Gala during their Happy Hour events and with gift packages.
For third parties that want to buy cheap Steam keys by the hundreds, this would indeed seem like a deal that would be detrimental to developers. There would be fewer individuals that need a similar sort of bulk deal.
Still, there are a ton of holes in the blog post. For starters, Saturday Morning RPG was already available in the Indie Royale Debut 6 Bundle in November, before its Steam Greenlight approval. Their other release, Breach & Clear, was a part of the Humble Mobile Bundle 4 in March of 2014 as well.
Finally, Indie Gala has since stopped using separate Steam keys that are easily resold and went the way of the Humble Bundle Steam links. The correlation between the two is too loose to adequately blame one option as the determining factor for a game’s low sales.
It does make a point: Developers should be aware whether their bundled game is worth the exposure to lose the tail-end sales that trickle in day by day.