Developer Kyle Pittman from Minor Key Games has put up a lengthy and candid post about their latest release, Super Win the Game. This platform game in classic 8bit Nintendo aesthetic was not well received, which makes the developer reflect extensively on the things that could’ve gone wrong.
Pittman talks about the team’s prior experiences with a past release, Eldritch, which initially launched to little interest, but eventually grew as an indie sweetheart. Additionally, the developer looks to You Have to Win the Game, the platform game’s free predecessor, for community interest.
Since Eldritch was announced and released in a short time, without a lot of publicity, Pittman tried to counter that with Super Win the Game. The game was shown off at some conventions and community feedback was taken into account to provide multiple versions of the game.
Despite a list of actions noted by the developer, Super Win the Game didn’t sell upon release at all. Pittman comments on the low sales figures:
Super Win the Game sold about 200 units in its first day, 700 in its first weeks, and 850 in its first month. As of the time of writing, it’s inching up on 900 units sold. That’s not good. There’s no way to spin that other than complete and total failure.
A lot of reasons are listed as a reason for the low figures, which comes with a gut-wrenching amount of self-reflection from Pittman. There’s a look into some of the naivety developers can suffer from when knee-deep into development.
For instance, Super Win the Game launched alongside Shadow of Mordor and Alien: Isolation. That’s a tough barrier.
Additionally, Pittman counted on the initial community to pick up Super Win the Game after playing the free version, despite the new release’s cost of $12.99. Perhaps the clincher here was that the previous game was free.
There was also an embargo for the game, which seems unnecessarily strict in hindsight. Since the title is said to have received little press coverage at all, it’s likely that restrictions didn’t help.
Another point that drove the developer to hard times was the creation of Mac and Linux ports, without the security of knowing if the game required it. To date, the game sold about fifty Linux copies, making it a financial sinkhole.
I personally advise reading the full version, as it is a rare complex insight on both the company and the person behind game creation. Pittman parts with the following, heart-breaking words:
I should note that these numbers are from Steam only, but Humble sales are negligible; that version was announced late and with little fanfare, and it only sold two units in the first month.
You can buy Super Win the Game on the game’s site.