Data Deep Dive: 'Meteorfall: Krumit's Tale' on Steam
Gobs of information for your delectation.
|Simon Carless||Oct 21, 2020|| 1|
[The GameDiscoverCo game discovery newsletter is normally written by ‘how people find your game’ expert Simon Carless, and is a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.
This special game data-centric guest column is in fact not written by me, rather by Eric Farraro of indie dev Slothwerks. But the piece has wordsmithing/edits by me further explaining the fortunes of this title on Steam so far. Take it away, Eric!]
Meteorfall: Krumit’s Tale, which is a deckbuilding roguelike title, is my second commercial game (the first being the mobile-only Meteorfall: Journeys) and my first ever Steam release. If you haven’t checked it out — take a look at our Steam page.
So, the game’s Steam page was put up on June 24th, 2019, and it launched on November 5th, 2019. The title benefited from a fanbase from the first mobile-only Meteorfall game - going into the Steam Early Access we managed to get ~1400 wishlists. I would’ve liked to have had a longer runway to build some wishlists before the Early Access launch.
But I drew a line in the sand for a November release to force myself to focus on what was required to get the game into a stable state that I felt good about. Otherwise I’d have to wait until January to release it, since the holidays are a busy and competitive time. Let’s take a look at units sold around Early Access release.
The first 7 days of Early Access launch specifically saw $6,294 in gross revenue with 1,165 units sold:
[NOTE FROM SIMON: With 1,400 wishlists at launch, the 0.83 sales to wishlists ratio in the first week is impressive, on the very high end of GameDiscoverCo’s previous surveys. The launch wishlist number is lower, but none of the wishlists were related to demos/Steam features & the game is high quality, which may help to explain things.]
Overall, in the first two weeks on Steam Early Access sale, Krumit’s Tale earned $5,422 USD (after Steam’s cut) and sold 1,400 units. To my knowledge, we didn’t receive any sort of obvious feature on Steam, partly because it was in Early Access. As best as I can tell, Early Access games don’t get as much visibility on Steam besides an email to wishlisted users (which makes a lot of sense from a business standpoint, given the unfinished nature.)
The biggest single day revenue was on the initial Early Access launch day (370 units, $1400 USD net), and we were doing about $70-$100 net per day in revenue a few days after release.
247 units came from Day 1 wishlist conversions (roughly 17% conversion). By two weeks after launch, we had a balance of 3,200 total wishlists and 516 total wishlist conversions. (And it scaled from there.)
What launch marketing did you do?
The free kind!
Things I did:
Emailed various gaming sites (about a dozen) of sites I visit for gaming news
Posted on Twitter / Reddit / Discord about the game. I have a community of about 2000 Twitter followers, 300 Discord participants, and 800 redditors that I’d developed over a few years with the release of Meteorfall: Journeys
Sent out free keys via Keymailer
Streamed the game myself on launch day, on the Steam page (max — 50–60 viewers)
Ran a good sized beta (~300 testers) to both help test the game and to help evangelize it in different communities
Things I didn’t do:
Any sort of paid marketing or ads
Any sort of game shows or meetups (not a bad idea though if you can do it for free)
In the intervening 9 months, a lot has changed! Now that we’ve launched the 1.0 version and have turned our sights to mobile, we can take a look at how the Steam version did from November 2019 to July 2020 (when it launched out of Early Access) and somewhat beyond.
From Early Access to full release
When we first launched into Early Access, we had around 1,400 wishlists, as mentioned. I wish I’d been able to get more in order to gain some chart positions on Steam, but I didn’t really leave enough runway between getting the Steam page up to get the Early Access launched.
During the course of Early Access however, we were able to build visibility. I think a lot of it came organically (small streamers and folks sharing the game with friends), as well as people that found out about the game due to my other Meteorfall game Journeys.
During those 9 months, we amassed 30,000 total wishlists (with a current balance of 23,000). We also used two ‘Visibility Rounds’ on Steam. I didn’t directly measure the effect of those, but there were modest but not particularly large spikes as a result of using them.
We’ve also increased our number of reviews by about 10x (from 30 shortly after Early Access launch to 370 as of the time of writing this) with a 94% Very Positive rating.
During Early Access, one notable bump involved Northernlion, a popular YouTuber and Twitch streamer, tried out Krumit’s Tale in mid-December 2019, and posted a video about it. Northernlion was a big influencer for Slay the Spire (you’ll see “NL sent me!” in a bunch of Spire reviews). Here’s his video:
The effect was pretty immediate, and led to a pretty substantial bump in sales (see above, second bump from the left). Many of his fans have stopped by the Discord saying that they discovered the game through NL, and I was honored that he took the time to try out the game.
The 1.0 Launch
I wasn’t sure if anyone would care about the 1.0 launch of Krumit’s Tale in late July 2020. It’s one thing for a game to launch for the very first time (being previously unplayable). It’s another to make the largely symbolic transition from Early Access to ‘Full Release’.
That said, I was impressed with the launch day sales for Krumit’s Tale! My benchmark for success was the initial release of my previous game Journeys on iOS and Android. In the first 24 hours, Krumit’s Tale was briefly able to top Journeys (if we overlay the revenue graphs from the 1.0 launch) in terms of net revenue. Krumit was able to keep pace until Day 3, at which point the Steam sales tapered off.
It was around this time that we also sold our 10,000th unit of Krumit’s Tale!
You can see in the above graph (which is ‘net revenue’ - gross would be 45-70% more, depending on the target platform) a very notable spike at release which quickly levels off. Steam — based on observation and my own buying patterns — is much more sale conscious versus mobile.
I buy plenty of games at full price, but I buy probably even more at a discount, because I know how often Steam does sales. I’m curious to see how Krumit’s Tale does as we participate in some seasonal Steam sales and deeper discounts in the future, especially with all the wishlists we’ve added.
The launch went pretty smoothly overall. Because we’d been battle-tested in Early Access for nearly 9 months, I wasn’t as stressed as I was with the initial Early Access launch.
Here’s the full gross revenue to date on Steam, including the Early Access period. The big spike around July is the 1.0 launch. Most of the earlier spikes happened as a result of a streamer or other influencer playing the game, and the post-launch spike was from a brief mention on The Besties podcast by Justin McElroy.
After 1.0 launch, I’d set aside a lot of time to get to work on critical bugs but ultimately, didn’t really need it despite the influx of new customers. I’m also really proud that we kept a Very Positive rating during release, with 93% positive overall and 88% positive recent reviews.
Where we did fall a bit flat was we weren’t able to garner much, if any, press or streamer coverage for the 1.0 launch. I emailed various press outlets, provided keys in advance, sent out hundreds of keys via Keymailer, etc… but wasn’t able to get traction with launch day coverage.
Someday we’ll get a proper rating! My takeaway is that you get one shot at press — when your game is ‘new’. When we first entered Early Access, we had some great articles in some notable publications as I noted, including PC Gamer and Rock Paper Shotgun, as well as an article in the print version of Edge in UK.
Getting folks to come back and check us out after we’d added a ton of content and improvements was difficult. I say that without judgment of gaming press— there’s a a bazillion games to cover — but it is worth noting when planning how and when you want to go into Early Access.
There are obviously some exceptions to this; Slay the Spire was a huge hit during Early Access and then got a ton more coverage & reviews for the 1.0 release. For smaller games that don’t have the breakout appeal of Slay the Spire, it may be risky to spread your media coverage out over a period of months, instead of a media blitz to build momentum behind your release.
I also wanted to go into the breakdown of units sold by country on Steam.
Thanks to the help of fans and Localizor.com, we were able to launch Krumit’s Tale in English, Spanish, Japanese, Polish, Russian (and Simplified Chinese — provided by Indienova).
I’d heard that US, China and Russia were the top countries in terms of units sold for many games. This does go to show how big of a market China is. The month we added the Chinese translation was one of the biggest months in terms of units sold. A big thank you to our Chinese publishing partner, Indienova, for helping us bring the game to Chinese players!
The most surprising was probably Japan — I think the Japanese translation here was probably crucial. Notably missing — we don’t have a German translation, but that would be another key language to boost that market.
Was Early Access Worth it?
Absolutely! Despite the failure to produce any sort of media hype for a ‘second launch’ (aka the 1.0 release), I don’t think I could’ve built Krumit’s Tale into the game it is without having gone through Early Access.
For starters, I got a ton of feedback about bugs, balance, and quality-of-life improvement suggestions that were invaluable. Using FeedbackBot on Discord, I collected over 800 pieces of feedback during Early Access. Having a steady stream of new buyers meant that I was always getting a fresh outside perspective on what was (and wasn’t) working.
It also gave me a lot of energy. Even though the Early Access wasn’t a complete launch, I was proud that I’d been able to get something out there in public for folks to play.
Getting that last 10% done before launch can be a brutal slog and just being able to say that you launched something is a fantastic feeling. I also got a ton of positive feedback from folks who played the game which kept my hype level high, even while slogging through bugs and other boring / hard parts of game development.
Designing in a vacuum is hard. Getting realtime feedback from eager players is a good way to make sure you don’t have to.
What Worked Well
Completed Early Access well within the scope of the original estimate
Achieved a 93% ‘Very Positive’ rating on Steam
Built a very active and supportive Discord community with over 700 members
Worked with fans to translate the game into 5 different languages (with more on the way) on Localizor
Unique game design! No games out there are quite like Krumit’s Tale. Part card game, part board game, part puzzle game.
What Didn’t Work Well
Spread media and content creator hype over a long period instead of condensing it into media blitz at launch
Game design perhaps too unique. Some folks find the game difficult or confusing, despite it being much easier than similar games. Some people ‘don’t get it [the design]’
Weaker than expected sales on Steam (when compared to Journeys) despite an established community and higher production value. Possibly to be mitigated by mobile release of Krumit’s Tale
Never really got traction during Early Access with popular streamers or creators in the way that other games sometimes do (Binding of Isaac, Slay the Spire, etc… — partially related to #2)
As I think about ‘Meteorfall 3’ (aka Artifacts and Accessories), I’d like to bring new mechanics and ideas to something that looks more familiar to players. And yes, that probably means some type of card-based mechanics again ;)
Although I’m really satisfied with Krumit’s design from a gameplay perspective, I think it’s hard at first glance for players to determine what it is exactly. When I think about ‘what didn’t work well’, I think a key factor is that it’s hard for new players to grok what kind of game it is, and that has a negative impact on coverage from creators.
I also launched Meteorfall: Kumit’s Tale on iOS and Android a few weeks ago, and so that will be the subject of the second article in this series, coming to GameDiscoverCo in the near future. Thanks for reading!
[This newsletter is handcrafted by GameDiscoverCo, a new agency based around one simple issue: how do players find, buy and enjoy your premium PC or console game? We’ll be launching a ‘Plus’ paid newsletter tier with lots of extra info/data - watch out for it soon.]