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Xbox Indie Games Make Big Money

Today I reveal how much money the best selling Xbox Live Indie Games have made. As far as I know, I'm the first to put two and two together and make this public (surprisingly), so this is sort of a big deal. Let's get to it:


ZOMB1ES was released August 16. Sometime before Sept. 14th it had 122,000 downloads. On Sept. 17th James Silva said it had 150,000 downloads, and then on Sept. 26th he said it has a 44.75% conversion rate (see here). Based on this we pretty much know the bare minimum it sold, but we can get closer if we predict how many downloads it had between the 17th and the 26th. Since it gained 28,000 downloads between [a date just before the 14th] and the 17th, then surely it had at least 20,000 between the 17th and 26th, though it's probably much higher than that, considering the game has stayed at #1 on the Most Purchased list this whole time. But let's play minimalist and stick with 20k, which brings us to 170,000 downloads, with a conversion rate of 45%; that's 76,500 copies sold at $1 each. Microsoft takes 30% of that (which is actually a great bargain), so James Silva has made at least $53,000 from I MAED A GAM3 W1TH ZOMB1ES. In only 40 days. That's more than I make in 4 years!

Now it gets more interesting once you realize this: you can view the all-time best selling games on your Xbox by going to the Indie Games tab, then Browse, All, and move over to Best Selling. I'm sure this is sorted by number of copies sold, rather than total money earned. The top 3 games are RC-Airsim, Rumble Massage, and James' ZOMB1E game. So we now know that all of these games have sold more than 76,500 copies.


RC-AirSim was released Jan. 20th and cost $2.50 the majority of its existence. Sometime after the Aug. 11th dashboard update, the price was raised to $3. There's no way we can tell how many copies were sold at each price point, so let's take the minimum route again and do the math as if all copies were sold at $2.50. That brings us to $191,250 total revenue. Wow. After Microsoft's cut the creator has made more than $133,875 in 8 months. And we know it's more than that. I'm guessing it's somewhere around $140k-160k. Either way this is pretty shocking. My mind is still boggled from all the months this game spent at #1 on Major Nelsons sales charts. It just does not make sense to me. The game looks so amateurish, so simple; I mean it doesn't even have a crash animation, the game just resets the moment the plane hits the ground. One forum user even questioned the sales charts, proposing the game's success is because of a glitch in the system. What makes matters even more mind-boggling is that this game has gotten very little press. I would have never guessed there's that many people interested in model airplane flying on Xbox Live. For those of you who haven't seen the game, watch the video. Maybe the universe will implode from your collective jaws dropping. Yes, THAT game has made over $134k in 8 months. If it makes you feel any better, the game has gradually disappeared from the weekly top ten once user ratings were implemented, thus ending its reign of terror. A coincidence? I think not.

Rumble Massage

Ah, the first vibrator game. Released Jan. 27th, its numbers should be fairly close to RC-AirSim's. It wasn’t as dominate on the charts, and after the Aug. 11th update the price dropped from $2.50 to $1, so it could be a bit lower than $134k, but it’s probably around the same range. But just think about how long it took to make this game. Literally, this game could be made in less than an hour. Over $130k for an hours’ worth of work. Has that ever happened in the history of the world?! It really is quite genius; OF COURSE the person who turns your Xbox into a sex toy is gonna be rich. No-brainer. The sad part is all the clones. 4 of the top 21 games are vibrators! Really people? Really?

So, summary:

-Time Period: Aug. 16th to Sept. 26th
-Units Sold: around 75,000 to 85,000
-Net Revenue to Developer: around $50k-60k

-Time Period: Jan. 20th to Sept. 26th
-Units Sold: over 75,000
-Net Revenue to Developer: around $135k-160k

Rumble Massage
-Time Period: Jan. 27th to Sept. 26th
-Units Sold: over 75,000
-Net Revenue to Developer: around $130k-150k

Now what does this mean for JForce? Well it’s certainly encouraging for me, considering many people draw comparisons between our game and James’ ZOMB1E game. They do look very similar. Jonny said it wasn’t really that motivating to him though, thinking James “just got lucky.”

I don’t know about that. I mean, if I were to have seen this game before its release, I would have definitely predicted it to be popular. I would have never predicted this much popularity, but I definitely would’ve guessed it’d make a few rounds on the ol’ internets due to the song alone. Obviously that’s the main reason for its massive success. Will our game have a funny song? No, probably not. But it will have a funny story and cutscenes, along with a couple epic promo videos, all of which I think will gain us even more popularity than this ZOMB1ES game. Making more money than it is going to be a challenge though, as our game doesn’t have as much broad appeal and accessibility. It’s a bit more hardcore. But it will be slightly higher priced, so we’ll see.

Also of note is all the people who’ve doubted us throughout development, saying things like “you think you can make $100k from a topdown shooter?!” and the never-ending flash comments like “why would people buy this when they can play free flash games?” If you were one of those people, look at ZOMB1ES and hang your head in shame as you admit you were wrong. Then go jump into a fire.

So in conclusion, Xbox Live Indie Games is a very viable money-making platform, unlike some people think (ahem, *cough*make a better game*cough*). You just need to make an interesting/good game and get press. Or just make a massage game...WITH ZOMBIES IN IT!!! Or just hope for a glitch in the system. :p

And no, these games aren’t making as much as the iphone best-sellers, but that’s different. And who wants to make crappy little mobile games anyway? Bleh. You’ll never see JForce goin down that route…well, unless we want to make the piles of cash we sleep on even bigger

Anyway, what do you think of all this? How much do you think ZOMB1ES will make one year from its release? How much do you think Unstoppable will make?
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About JForceGamesone of us since 11:26 PM on 05.06.2008

Fearless leader of JForce here, just tryna' spread the good word about our upcoming game, "JForce: UNSTOPPABLE"'s coming to Xbox 360, PC, & will be legendary.

-cutscenes and spritework by Egoraptor
-more weapons than you can imagine
Xbox LIVE:J Force Games


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