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Gun Monkeys Price Drop EXPLAINED

Jul 232013

Gun Monkeys is now $5.99/ £3.99/ Eur4.49 , and you always get two copies with every purchase.

Flippantly speaking, there are three key hurdles in releasing a Video Game.

HURDLE ONE: MAKE A GOOD GAME. Gun Monkeys is generally picking up 8/10s. The guys playing it are loving it. I haven’t made a shitty game, and that’s a huge relief. HURDLE JUMPED SUCCESSFULLY.

HURDLE TWO: MAKE MONEY OFF IT. Gun Monkeys paid its development costs fairly quickly. HURDLE JUMPED SUCCESSFULLY. Making money is important for hurdle three:

HURDLE THREE: MAKE SURE EVERYONE’S HAVING A BRILLO TIME. It’s at this hurdle that I’ve oh-so-slightly mis-jumped, smacked my testicles into the hurdle and have gone arse over tit, my grinning face thumping directly onto the tarmac and knocking out my two front teeth.

So, Gun Monkeys needs players in order to play it. You need other people milling around. At times, the servers are quite busy, you can quite happily play for hours. At other times, they’re dead, because everyone who owns a copy of Gun Monkeys is at work or at school or sleeping or playing Rogue Legacy. You have to sell HYPER-LOTS of copies in order for the servers to have anyone in them, triply so if you’re trying to get a game at 4am. This is a fact I now know that I didn’t really appreciate before.

There are a few other things in the pipeline to help with this, but the bolded bit’s the main news: from today, the game is cheaper, and you can’t buy a ‘single’ copy of the game. In hindsight, one-key-per-customer was a STUPID idea. You’ll now always get two keys, so in theory you’ll always have someone to play against. What’s more, everyone who has bought the game thus far has been gifted a free copy to send to a chum (or TWO free copies if you bought the double pack)

If you’re a loyal Gun Monkeys player, hopefully you understand this change is all to help keep those servers busy. It’s something I’m doing *extremely* reluctantly, because I don’t want to devalue the game, I 100% think it’s worth $10. But I’ve come to the conclusion that the game’s multiplayer-only concept is a tough sell, so a pricing change is a necessary evil. It’s just not fair on the people who are playing and enjoying the game that they’re struggling to find people to play, so I’m doing everything in my power to remedy that. If you’re ANGRY, please do feel free to email me so we can discuss it.

Here’s the takeaway from this, for any indie dev considering adding multiplayer to a game: the number of games you have to sell in order to have people playing *constantly* is HUGE. Hugerer than you think, even. Even hugerer than your revised figure. It’s massive, and it might not happen.

16 Comments

  1. Jul 232013
    Anon,

    Oh, shame about this. I have been enjoying myself very much though, but yeah, there aren’t enough players. Although who am I to complain, I’m playing a review copy :P

    Two quick questions:
    What does this mean for the Linux version? Any chance of Linux for the other two games on Steam?

  2. Jul 232013
    dan,

    Linus version is theoretically still happening.

    Linux BTDT/ TGP has been in the works for a while now by a third party. As I understand it it’s 90% there but a bit fiddly. So, not sure :/

  3. Jul 232013
    dudekazoo,

    I just wanted to say how much I respect this move. That’s a bold stroke to try to fix a really big issue with a multiplayer game. Way to go.

  4. Jul 232013
    BritishFerret,

    After this, I think I’m going to finally splash out on this. I think it’s worth £4, especially to play with a mate. Thanks!

    (Are there any plans for DLC/free content update) on the horizon?

  5. Jul 232013
    dan,

    Extra content really depends on how well it sells. I’d love to add more content (free, not DLC) but it really depends whether I have the raw cash to justify it, I’m afraid.

  6. Jul 232013
    BritishFerret,

    Well, I’m buying it regardless, thanks!

  7. Jul 232013
    DJ,

    I like this move so much that even though I am unlikely to actually play the game I will buy it as a show of support.

  8. Jul 232013
    Anon,

    Oh, shame about Linux version of BTDT/TGP not being certain. Maybe see if the Humble Bundle guys would be willing to let you make use of their Linux/Mac beta testers (they do this often, I’ve heard – that’s how FTL on Linux was tested!). It’s easier to fix bugs if you have more data.

    Nevertheless, thanks. I’m looking forward to Gun Monkeys on Linux, a bit tired of rebooting if I want to play.

  9. Jul 232013
    dan,

    No no no, buy it AND play it! That’s the whole problem! ;)

  10. Jul 232013
    Anon,

    Gimme a Linux version and I’ll be there all the time, along with everyone I can pester to do the same! :P

  11. Jul 232013
    Ortzinator,

    I see understand argument for reducing the price and for including two copies but why both at the same time? Was the problem really that bad?

  12. Jul 232013
    dan,

    The 2-for-1 thing happened, and it felt like the price drop as well was kind of inevitable so I decided to do both together so the message is nice and clear and simple, rather than doing this again in a month’s time. One of the joys of being an indie, I can dabble with this kind of stuff as much as I like, try stuff out.

  13. Jul 232013
    Darkwraith,

    I was actually planning to buy this for the old price but I’ll just buy it 2 times now (and gift it to friends) just for this:
    It’s at this hurdle that I’ve oh-so-slightly mis-jumped, smacked my testicles into the hurdle and have gone arse over tit, my grinning face thumping directly onto the tarmac and knocking out my two front teeth.

  14. Jul 232013
    jonfitt,

    I’m sorry you had to find out at this stage, but I’m glad you’ve identified a key problem with MP-only indie games.
    Personally I was repeatedly burned buying MP only games from small studios a few years ago, and just don’t put myself through it anymore.

    Games I paid for and tried to play but nobody else was playing so I never got any kind of value out of:
    Shattered Horizon (added bots too late)
    Lead and Gold
    Dogfighter
    Plain Sight
    Section 8: Prejudice

    All had encouraging RPS coverage and looked good.

    I would love to play Nidhogg and Spy Party, but after the initial rush if they don’t have a single player mode it’s incredibly likely you’ll not be able to play a spontaneous game.

    It’s self full-filling but few want to be the loaner on the dance floor trying to convince anyone else to dance. Not when there’s a fee to dance.

    That’s key and also imho a potential solution. Planetside 2 would not be able to sustain its server populations without being f2p. New Tribes would not have lasted as long either. Monday Night Combat got a good foothold, but tapered off so the followup went f2p.
    If you want people to be able to have spontaneous games whenever they like you need a massive population and giving it away is a start. The people who only every play for free are getting something for nothing, but they’re also working to make sure your paying players have someone to shoot.

    Buy 1 get 2 is also sort of free to play. People will either split it thus making it half price, or give one away to a friend essentially making that person a f2p player.

    Or maybe there’s a market for some metagame matching service or Steam function where you could flag your interest to play any one of a set of small MP only games while you do something else? You could play CivV but flag yourself interested in Gun Monkeys if anyone else comes on? Should we expect to play the game we want to play when we want to play it?

  15. Jul 242013
    Makki,

    I want to congratulate you for setting regional prices right. The game deserves to be bought just because of this.

  16. Jul 242013
    Evgeny,

    It would be helpful if Steam could notify users about price changes like this, not just about sales. As it is, quite a few potential customers won’t notice it.

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