Since I started selling the beta of Zen of Sudoku last month, it’s been selling really well! There’s been no advertising; most of our sales have been coming from the NS community and word of mouth. We also got a full page write-up on Penny Arcade, which helped immensely. Those guys have always been great to us and I can’t be more thankful. Whether the game appeals to you or not, consider telling your parents or grandparents about it. They might love it and it would really help!
I am talking with a many of the major game "portals" to get as wide distribution as possible. As the game nears completion, it is becoming clear that it’s success will really depend on whether we can get the word out to a large audience or not. The game has been "converting" well (% of people that try the game that then buy it), but with this audience, only about 10% of people that we get to our website actually download and try the game. I’m not sure if this is the case with Natural Selection as well, but this staggering statistic seems to be pretty standard from the portals I’ve talked to.
The next step is to figure out how to a) get more traffic and b) get those 90% to get some value out of their visit, and to possibly encourage them to download the game. Now it’s clear to me why Popcap and other portals create web versions of their games. It always seemed to me that they were losing sales because so many people that play the web version of Zuma think that’s the "real" Zuma. Ie, they never download the game. Even if that’s the case for most people that go to the website though, I think it’s probably worth making a web version just to sell ads and to slightly increase the chance that they will try the full version of the game.
So now I’m looking for a Flash programmer that can create Zen of Sudoku for the web. The art, sound, music, etc. are all done, so it’s just a question of recreating the game exactly, with some of the functionality removed or stripped down of course, so it doesn’t have a 10+ megabyte footprint. If this is something you’d be interested in, please write me. I think it’s a great chance to get your work seen by many people and I’m flexible in terms of compensation. We also need an OS X version, though that will be more work.
We are still testing the site and are about to open it up to a wider group of people. The site has been a true nightmare to work on, but we’re going to get it right. Enough about that.
In other news, we are preparing for imminent, earnest work on Natural Selection: Source! I wasn’t sure which direction it should go, but after seeing some of the upcoming technology and features in Source, everything has become clear. There won’t be any announcements until we are financially stable, but now I’m sure that’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of when!
For the record, NS:S will be released through Steam and will cost money ($19.95?) and will be a standalone game. From the beginning, the idea has been to create Natural Selection, give it away and then sell the sequel. Back then, I thought the sequel would be much bigger and for retail, but a lot has changed in the past almost five years since starting work on NS. Now the sequel will have a smaller scope and will be sold online, but we will retain more control, will need less money up-front and will get paid more for every copy sold. It’s not what I was expecting, but it’s definitely no worse! The only thing I can say about the game itself right now is that if you liked NS, you will love NS:S.
I’m excited to get back to my first love. Aliens and high-powered weaponry. Stay tuned.