In the early hours of the morning IndieGameStand expanded its operations from offering small indie 96-hour flash sales of select games to a full blown catalog. We thought it was an interesting move given all the competition in the space, but we wondered why over 72 indie developers jumped at the chance to be part of the catalog and why 14 of them wanted to be part of the very first sale.
The short answer is that IndieGameStand seems to be very developer friendly and provides a high level of flexibility and ease in getting developers' games approved and in its catalog. For some longer answers we talked to seven of the 14 developers taking part in the very first sale including Steve Ball from Always Geeky, Vieko Franetovic from LeGrudge and Rugged, Ian Stocker from Magical Time Bean, Calvin French from Kitty Lambda Games, Andrew Sum from Jigxor, Mike Maulbeck from Code Avarice, and Rich Carlson from Digital Eel.
When your games were featured on IndieGameStand previously, how well did those games fare? How was the experience working with IndieGameStand? Was the royalty split fair?
Steve Ball: Vox did incredibly well on IGS and is currently ranked as one of the top 10 selling game deals of all time. I was completely overwhelmed by how well Vox did on IGS and am really appreciative of all the support and help that IGS has given to Vox. The indie community that IGS has fostered since its launch is a great asset to both the community and also the game developers. The royalty split is fine and goes along with the other industry standards.
Vieko Franetovic: Our game [KRUNCH] performed well, we were happy with the return as well as the split. The response from IGS customers was mostly positive.
Ian Stocker: My catalog of Soulcaster, Soulcaster II, and Escape Goat were featured on IGS. They did great considering they weren't bundled with other games, and brought in a lot more revenue than my passive direct sales on the Humble Store widget. The royalty split was fair. I had a very positive experience overall.
Calvin French: The Real Texas + Paradise Perfect Boat Rescue bundle did quite well—I was happy with the sales from a numbers perspective. The experience working with IGS was great, they have a slick developer user interface for setting up your description/etc. and are very personable and helpful. Nice people to deal with and a great site from a design perspective, too!
Mike Maulbeck: We had Paranautical Activity featured on IndieGameStand. We made around 3 grand, which is great for a 3-day sale. The royalty split was awesome. We came out of the deal with plenty of money to call it worthwhile, we got to support a great charity (we chose Child's Play), and IGS took a small cut to keep the lights on.
Rich Carlson: IndieGameStand is a good way to boost sales. And it's great to be able to put together a beat the average price "goodie bag" to spice things up. We've been able to include free games, mods, soundtracks, all kinds of things to surround the featured game, to help make the offer as appealing as possible. Mike and Matt have been super nice, helpful, timely, enthusiastic, encouraging, understanding and thoroughly professional.
Why did you decide to include your game in the launch of the new and expanded storefront?
Steve Ball: I decided to include Vox as a launch game since I truly believe in what IGS is trying to accomplish with their store and I think they have a great brand that deserves the support from developers like myself
Vieko Franetovic: We had the pleasure to meet Mike Gnade at GDC this year – he is a forward-thinking, opportunity maker who is genuinely looking to improve online distribution. We feel the expanded storefront is a step in the right direction.
Ian Stocker: Given the minimal setup time, it's worth a try!
Andrew Sum: Since my game is still in development, I'd like to expand the audience for my game and get some more interest in it before its first release.
Mike Maulbeck: IndieGameStand has been amazing to work with. I'd go so far as to say they're my favorite digital distributor to work with thus far. Their developer interface is powerful and easy to use, they're super easy to get a hold of, and they've been really kind and supportive throughout all our dealings with them. We even got to hang out with them on their new podcast, which was loads of fun. When I heard they were launching a storefront I couldn't say no. I'm honored to be a part of the launch lineup, and I'm super excited to see what the future holds for IndieGameStand. The digital distribution market needs more people like IGS.
Rich Carlson: Data Jammers is a quirky one. It needs exposure. It's one of our pets and a great little arcade game that deserves any break it can get. Brainpipe is sort of a cult game. It needs cool places to reside so people who hear about it, and who like trippy games, can easily find it. Weird Worlds wasn't marketed properly for several years, so getting the game out now (after getting the rights back) is like encountering an undiscovered country. We're fortunate IndieGameStand chose to carry the game to help it connect with its audience of space gamers at last!
How important is having the ability to set your game's price? Is being able to offer it DRM-free important?
Steve Ball: As a games developer it is great being able to set your own price for your game. It really allows you to gauge your own game's worth an also adds the flexibility to set your own sales and periods of promotion.
Vieko Franetovic: Both are important, sure.
Ian Stocker: Setting my own price is not terribly important, but I would imagine IGS would want parity with prices on other distributors for PC even if I couldn't set my own price. I wouldn't allow IGS to have an ongoing base price lower than the SRP on other distributors however. DRM-free is important, the only DRM people put up with these days is Steam.
Calvin French: Being able to set your game's price is very important, and also being able to run promotions. Slight tangent to your answer, but: different people have different income levels, and different level of interest in any given games. For myself, I know there are some games I will gladly go out and buy full price at launch and others I'll wait for and buy when they go on sale. It's not necessarily what I feel the game is worth per se, it's more a reflection of how much time (if any) I can see myself putting into it. So anyhow, because of this I think sales and being able to set your price is important. The Real Texas is $15 and I definitely think it's worth that, but putting it on sale is a way to put it in the hands of people who are maybe only a bit interested in it, or else just can't easily afford the $15. So anyhow, that's not a direct answer to your question but it certainly relates to how you price and sell your games As for DRM, I don't put DRM in my games because I don't think it makes sense to. DRM on PCs at least is usually pretty intrusive, and getting locked out of a game you legitimately bought for any reason is terrible!
Andrew Sum: It is important for me to be able to set my game's price so that I can coincide with and promotional efforts I want to undertake with my game. And DRM-free is important to me since I don't want people who buy my game to have any barriers to playing it.
Mike Maulbeck: Since Paranautical Activity is on so many different distribution platforms, it's very important to me that no matter where someone purchases it they get the same experience for the same price. Being able to make sure that I can price my game however I want, and run sales at the click of a button is really important to me. Not having to worry about integrating any sort of 3rd party DRM to get onto the IGS store is a great bonus as well and made releasing on IGS that much easier.
Rich Carlson: Setting our own price is helpful for practical reasons and because we don't want to sell a game at full price forever. DRM-free means you can do whatever you like with the installer, which is ideally what we want. It also means you'll likely be able to install and run the game in the future as other DRM dependent installers and wrappers cease to function. We began Digital Eel DRM-free and hopefully we can continue to offer the DRM-free alternative.
How do you think IndieGameStand is compared to other games digital marketplaces like Humble Bundle, Steam, etc., GOG.com?
Vieko Franetovic: Apples to oranges. IGS is just getting started – on a very promising path – wouldn't be fair to compare them to other marketplaces at this point.
Ian Stocker: I have only distributed on Desura and through the Humble Store widget on my site (not the Humble Bundle) so I can only speak to that. I am in the process of setting up distribution on GOG and Steam, and I can say IGS is much easier and more straightforward to set up than other marketplaces.
Calvin French: IGS is kind of the new person on the block as far as having a storefront. We'll see! Again to answer on a tangent: except for Steam I've worked with all the stores you mention and I think they are all fantastic, really. As a developer I see it as giving choice to players, and also as healthy for the marketplace. Some people that get on Steam, for instance, don't seem to bother with anything else. This is really too bad because it's saying to their audience, "you can play our game, but you have to use the most popular thing, whether you like it or not." And most people like Steam (myself included) but at the same time—choice, people!
Andrew Sum: I've heard of a lot of great games from IndieGameStand that I wouldn't have otherwise heard of. I think it's a great place for a lot of indie titles to get exposure and for players to get games at a great price.
Mike Maulbeck: IndieGameStand is head and shoulders above almost every platform we've worked with. Their developer interface is the best I've worked with and blows everything else out of the water. The only platform that really comes close to being as easy to work with is Humble, who are also extremely easy to work with, though their developer interface still needs a lot of work. The only downside to working with IndieGameStand is userbase. They obviously don't have quite as much of a hold on the market as Steam, Humble, or GOG. I do think that they definitely stand a chance to make a real mark on the digital distribution scene with the IGS Store though.
Rich Carlson: IndieGameStand has a more personal and less corporate vibe. Not that other portals aren't pleasant (everyone is very friendly) but it is like a breath of spring air. IndieGameStand also has a lean but soft presence, to me. Completely inviting, not cold. But also, not trendy as such—which I think is good—but you'd need to weigh that.
Do you offer your games on other storefronts? Have you had any difficulty getting your games into those marketplaces?
Steve Ball: Currently Vox is also available on Desura but not Steam. It is really difficult to get your game on Steam if you are small or unknown and I think stores like IGS are great for the lesser known developers or anyone struggling to get their game on Steam.
Vieko Franetovic: We offer KRUNCH on our website using Humble Store. Getting games on marketplaces can be challenging!
Ian Stocker: Yes, I worked hard to get Escape Goat on Steam. After a year on Greenlight, it’s finally going up there. I also attempted to get GOG interested in Escape Goat, and they declined until recently when they showed interest in the game along with its upcoming sequel.
Andrew Sum: Dungeon Dashers is currently lined up for a wide range of distributors including Steam. It was a really big effort to get through Steam Greenlight, but the other marketplaces were quite accommodating.
Mike Maulbeck: Hahahah. I think most people have heard how much fun we had trying to get Paranautical Activity onto Steam. They're the only site that gave us any trouble though. Getting onto Desura, Humble, and GamersGate was no trouble at all.
Rich Carlson: Yes. Steam, Desura and a couple others. We haven’t had too much trouble. We were lucky that Brainpipe and Weird Worlds had some good press, at least fair sales and some IGF attention. Helps because there's a better chance folks already know about the game you have, so you don't have to pitch or demo it totally cold.
What are some features or functions you'd like to see added to the expanded IndieGameStand Store?
Steve Ball: Currently the IGS backend is great for developers and I was really shocked to find out how amazingly easy and simple it is to setup and get all the required information about your game on there. In comparison to other platform back ends, I would say that IGS is already ahead of the game in many areas.
Vieko Franetovic: Stay fresh and adapt quickly!
Ian Stocker: I can't think of anything!
Calvin French: Don't know yet with respect to IGS, as it's still new. One thing that would be super interesting in general is if there were a unified "cross buy" system in place, where if you bought a game on one site, you'd get it on the others automatically. I guess that's tricky territory, and I have no idea how storefronts would feel about it, but I think players would love to see something like that.
Andrew Sum: Any way that makes it easy to stay in touch with customers is great. Mailing list functions and a way to update clients of new builds would be useful.
Mike Maulbeck: I actually don't think that there is really anything missing from the IndieGameStand Store. As I've said many times already, their interface is the best I've ever worked with. If I had to come up with a feature for the IGS Store that I think would be cool, maybe somehow organizing bundles with other devs would be neat. I've spoken to lots of my developer friends in the past about bundling our games for promotions or something, and being able to do that within the interface of the store would be a neat feature.
Rich Carlson: A specific soundtrack section for purchasing only game soundtracks. User review scores only. (Steam uses Metacritic which isn't often appropriate for indie and small games.) A souvenir shop for posters and t-shirts from game art. (Could be dangerous, heh, but would be cool.) A weekly "mystery bundle," or a random bundle—the "bundle of chaos!" Hey I'd buy one once.
Thanks to everyone for answering our questions. You can check out all of their games on IndieGameStand.com/store now.