What is the average an indie game needs to sell to be profitable?

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I am just amazed the Wii U is getting 3-5 digital games a week now on average. Not including VC games. Since Shovel Knight is more of an anomaly it seems I do not understand how they are doing so well. Some of these games on Wii  U get one or two comments a week or even a month on Miiverse, yet their developer just pushes more out.

We cannot even use retail as an example, because some of these games cost as little as a dollar. On sale, Just an average balloon was 10 cents on the eshop and I got to run was a penny at one point. Where is the profit? Now these were extreme examples and one of them was for Iwata's charity, but still, that was even more money down the drain.


Any ideas?

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With how they cheap they look probably half a dozen copies.

It depends, but I think 10~15k in most cases.

Bet with Teeqoz for 2 weeks of avatar and sig control that Super Mario Odyssey would ship more than 7m on its first 2 months. The game shipped 9.07m, so I won

More than the budget.

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I believe that the revenue cut the developers get in this case are roughly 60% or so, if my estimates are correct. So, I'd say it depends on the price and kind of effort placed into the game.

Really, I can't imagine something like Affordable Space Adventures breaking even at just 10k copies, for instance. Or FAST Racing Neo breaking even at 20k, given the experience of the developer and the scale of the project.



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Look at it this way: Yacht Club budgeted themselves at ~$600K for Shovel Knight (300 from kickstarter and 300 for the stretch goals themselves). Within a week they sold 75,000 copies, enough to give them almost $700K that they took home. That's assuming they take home 60% of the game's profit. So, for a relatively high budget indie like Shovel Knight, you needed about 50K lifetime. (Mind you, ideally they wanted about double their $600K budget so as to pay employees well enough, but that's neither here nor there.) So an average, one to four man indie game should ideally hit around 25-40K in sales (at $15 per sale before the 30-40% platform fees, adjust as you wish for different price points) if we want them to be paid properly. 


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As others have said, that would vary greatly based in how much was spent in developing the game and what they price it at. I don't think you can come up with any useful average if you lump all indie games together.

Meme Run's initial price was 5$, so I assume they started profiting after the tenth copy sold.

You know it deserves the GOTY.

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Who says they're all making profit?

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vivster said:
Who says they're all making profit?

No one, but something must be drawing them to the Wii U in droves now.

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