Dead Pixels: XBLIG Post Mortem

It’s been 2 months now since Dead Pixels came out and all through it I’ve been wondering when the best time to do a post-mortem.  While the game is not dead yet, every week it gets less sales, and cant help but feel its’ better to do this while everyone still remembers the game rather than when it’s been forgotten.

Sales from September 16th – November 13th.

  • Trials: 45170
  • Purchases: 22607
  • Purchase/Trial Ratio: 50.05 %

What Went Right.

I made a good zombie game

I went into Dead Pixels with the idea of making a zombie game that was not shovel-ware, and that fans of zombie films would enjoy.  Most reviewers and gamers got that and it made me happy that everyone that payed realised I wasn’t just trying to cash in on zombies.

I built a fan base

By making a facebook page and listing the URL on the main menu I made a way for me to interact with fans of the game very easily. This has been really useful for seeing what people want and being able to ask them directly about stuff has really sped up decision making.

Bowfingering it

Okay, that sounds dirty if you have never seen the film Bowfinger ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0131325 ) Basically I done everything for as cheap as possible.  I used free sound effects and music, and all the coding and art was done by me.  This meant that there very few costs that ate into my profits.

Learning new skills / techniques

I learnt a lot working on Dead Pixels.  Some of it was to do with making sprites, and the presentation of the game and some of it was to do with the way I coded the game.  There are so many things that I would do now in a game that I wouldn’t have even thought of back in February when I started Dead Pixels.

Constant playtesting and taking in advice.

I feel that the large amount of playtesting I did from April onwards really helped with how polished the games was.  I would rarely ignore what the playtesters said and if a few said something that I didn’t agree with I took it as a sign that I was wrong.

What Went Wrong

Underestimated how well the game would do.

With so few games sharing their sales stats I was expecting rely on the long tail to make any money. I was hoping for 4000 sale in a month and I ended up getting that in 3 days.  With all these sales came a lot of popularity, emails, tweets, messages, friend requests and all kinds of things I wasn’t prepared for.  A big mistake was to not have a proper website and email address setup when the game came out. All I had was an empty blog and twitter and this forced people to google my name, and find me on a variety of sites.

Promising DLC

Don’t get me wrong, have no problems making free DLC, but because everyone knew I was doing it, and because I was taking so long, it put me under more stress.  Many people felt that their $1 gave them permission to  complain if I tweeted about anything non work related.

No online co-op

The no1 asked for feature was online co-op.  This was completely down to the fact I don’t play online games on my 360 and I like local co-op.  This is not true of most other people, and some people bought the game presuming they could play it online with friends.

Competition from other zombie games.

After Dead Pixels came off the new releases list and was only on the top selling and top rated list, every time a new zombie game that sold well came out my sales took a dip.  It’s easy to understand why.  If a gamer was looking through the top downloaded they would have to pass by CastleMiner Z, The $1 Zombie Game, I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1 and Zombie Estate, before they got to Dead Pixels.  The more original your game the less competition you will have.

Little to no attention from big sites.

Maybe I didn’t email as many people as I should have, or maybe I should have sent out press releases, but I felt like few sites gave me much attention, and many of the sites that did ask for review codes did nothing with them.

I am very thankful of all the sites that did did choose to do reviews, interviews and write articles it kept me from feeling like I was invisible.

What went ??? ?

The cover art.

I love the cover art of Dead Pixels, but I felt like the trial downloads were lower than some other games, and I cant help but feel my box art might have been to blame.

Whats next?

  1. Finish updating the game.
  2. PC version
  3. Profit
  4. Side projects
  5. Sequel
  6. More profit

I’m going to finish post-mortem here before Dead Pixel’s wakes up and bites me.

Sayonara!

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13 responses

  1. Nick 'Tallahassee' Hopkins

    Hiya…thanks for posting this. Really interesting!

    I’ve LOVED the game and been evangelising it (even getting it on some of the videogame TV shows I was producing for Ginx TV).

    I was wondering if you had considered a mobile version (Android, iPhone, DS/Sony stores etc.)…from what I understand it would generate more ££ for you in the long run. What thinks ye?

    November 23, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    • cantstraferight

      Thanks.

      I have been in talks about doing mobile versions with another company, but I don’t know if anything will ever come of it. I do have an idea for a Dead Pixels phone game but, it’s a very different kind of game that I feel would be more suited to phones.

      November 23, 2011 at 5:55 pm

  2. Wesker

    Hopefully the game continues to sell well. What are you Planning as a sequel to Dead Pixels?

    November 23, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    • cantstraferight

      I probably shouldn’t get into it so soon, but my plan is to take everything I wanted to do in the original but couldn’t and add in some of the many suggestions I’ve received from people.

      November 23, 2011 at 6:13 pm

  3. wesker

    so you could a story line to the sequel with quests and side quest. could you also in the future add some sort of reload to the guns. it seems rather easy to just hold the trigger down shoot infinitely.

    November 23, 2011 at 7:38 pm

  4. nice post. look forward to your next game John.

    November 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    • CantStrafeRight

      Thanks

      November 23, 2011 at 10:05 pm

  5. Nate

    I personally really like the cover art and thoroughly enjoyed the game. I found your game by reading OXM’s indiverse so they helped you get one more fan and customer.

    November 25, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    • Nate

      *indieverse

      November 25, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    • CantStrafeRight

      Thanks.
      Would you mind taking a picture of the OXM thing? I’ve not had a chance to see it.

      November 25, 2011 at 11:12 pm

  6. Nate

    Sure I will send it your way via twitter.

    November 26, 2011 at 2:35 am

  7. @SuperDiki

    22k sales is less than I would have hoped you would get, but its hardly a kick in the teeth either.

    So congratulations good sir!

    December 6, 2011 at 10:29 am

  8. peteypanda

    Your game is awesome. Can’t really say much more than that.

    April 15, 2012 at 11:29 pm

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