We have started a fundraising effort to raise money to bring Cthulhu Saves the World to the PC & to add back some of the features that we had to cut due to lack of time. You can check out the fundraising project, how much we've raised, and what rewards are offered for various pledges by clicking here.
And now for a frank Q&A about the state of Zeboyd Games at the moment:
Q. Why do you nead to raise funds? Can't you just use the money that you're getting from Cthulhu Saves the World & Breath of Death VII?
A. Unfortunately, Microsoft only pays out royalties to XBLIG developers quarterly. Since Cthulhu Saves the World came out at the end of the year, we're going to have to wait until May to get most of the early royalties for it (outside of the first 2 days which we'll get in February). In the meantime, we lack the funds to do much serious development in the first quarter of 2011.
Q. How is Cthluhu Saves the World selling?
A. It's selling slightly slower than Breath of Death VII did when it was first released. Of course, it's more expensive than Breath of Death VII, so that's not as bad as it sounds. We've sold a little over 7,000 copies so far (around 2,000 in December, the rest in January). Last week, we sold an average of about 240 copies a day. It looks like this week, we'll sell noticeably fewer a day - yesterday, we sold under 200 copies and that was a weekend (which usually have noticeably better sales than the rest of the week).
Now these kinds of sales for a $3 game on XBox Live Indie Games are really good, but that just illustrates the problem - XBLIG is quickly proving itself to be a less than ideal platform for our kind of games. If we want to become a full time development studio, then just making games for XBLIG is not going to work.
Q. Will you be able to do full time development based on sales of Cthulhu Saves the World on the XBox Live Indie Games channel?
A. Probably, but not for long. If our current sales trends continue, we'll probably make enough money in the first quarter of 2011 to cover full time expenses for the second quarter. However, Cthulhu Saves the World took about 8 months to develop - it doesn't look like we'll get 8 months worth of development expenses out of Cthulhu Saves the World off of just XBLIG sales (or if we do, it'll take a couple years of gradual sales to get it). This is why it is critical for us to expand to other platforms ASAP.
Q. Why the PC? Why not another popular platform like the iPhone?
A. Since our games are made using XNA, the PC is by far the easiest platform for us to port to. Not only that, but many indie developers have seen great success on the PC, so why not us? We may support other platforms in the future, but we'll decide that when the time comes.
Q. Will you still support XBox Live Indie Games?
A. Yes. Once we've expanded our game engine to support PC development, it should be relatively simple to release our games on both the PC & XBLIG platforms simultaneously (or as cloes to simultaneously as the peer review process allows). Although XBLIG sales in general aren't amazing, it's still an extra platform for us to sell and distribute our games. Plus, I just like making XBox 360 games.
Q. Will the new features that you're adding to the PC version also be added to the XBLIG version?
A. Yes. The new features that we're adding to the PC version will also be added to the XBLIG version via a free patch.
Q. How about XBLA development?
A. That's a possibility for the future, but that requires much more time and money than we have at the present. After finishing the enhanced PC version of Cthulhu Saves the World, we have a project that should take us about half a year and will probably sell for $3 when we're finished. After we're done with that, we'll see how Zeboyd Games is doing and make plans accordingly. To be honest, I'm not sure that XBLA is a good goal at this point, given the high level of competition and the possibility that a successor to the 360 could show up before too long - it might be better to just stick with less regulated platforms like the PC or to try to support a newer platform.
So there you have it. If we manage to raise enough money to go ahead with the PC version & enhancements and release the PC version early this year, then I think our money problems this year will be solved - the PC version will probably sell at least as well as the XBLIG version, if not better, and between the two of them, we would have enough money to go all out with our next new game (which I think will be even better and more successful than our first two). Every little bit helps - even if you can only afford to donate a dollar or two, it adds up.
Once again, you can find the page for our fundraising project here.