Ethan: Meteor Hunter – The loosy indie platformer who sold 100 000 units

Dec 18, 2014 @ 16:22

And that’s sell-through, before you ask @Oscarlemaire

One year ago we released Ethan: Meteor Hunter on PC (without Steam) and PlayStation 3 (self published) which wasn’t really successful as you may remember (we sold 127 units on PC at the time). What did prove to be successful, however, was the post mortem we wrote about it.

What happened since?

The post mortem did buzz a lot and we had a lot of feedback: 150+ comments on our website and more than a thousand on Reddit. We even made it to the front page of reddit! Which was incredible and definitely not expected. It lead to TotalBiscuit tweeting about the post mortem and crashing temporarily our website, with a single tweet…

We also got great feedback from Gamasutra community but overall that was it. As we’re French-based we got a good cover from French video game press and streamers but no international press talked about it (except you Joystiq <3). That was really a social network (Twitter/Reddit) thing.

Most people, if not everybody, would then think with that amazing exposure “tons of people will no doubt pity buy it” or maybe just buy it.

Answer: “nope”.

However, our greenlight page at the time did explode and we got greenlit a month after the post mortem was live. Massive thank you everybody! With this new feedback from our first failed launch, we thought of the Steam release as a new launch, a fresh new start for the game. We asked reddit about which image would fit best into Steam’s front page for release and, again, it worked pretty well and even better than the postmortem: 2500 comments and 320 000 views on Imgur! With these exposures we hoped everything would go better.

What we sold and how

Back in December 2013 we were in a difficult situation as we didn’t expect to do so few sales at launch, PC and PlayStation 3. So our partner PlugInDigital suggested to go into a bundle to help get greenlit and get a bit of money back. We were not really fond of it as it was only two months after release but we didn’t have any choice.

Overall, we took part into 4 bundles as of today. We also released the game on PlayStation Vita in April. As of today, we have sold, across PC, PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3:

112 567 units

WOOHOO! Much better than the 127 units last year hu? That’s +8772%! Let’s hope next year will see the same progress!

With Sony’s blessing (thank you!) we can say this number includes 4 050 units on PlayStation 3 and 2 763 units on PlayStation Vita, which makes a 105 754 units across all PC stores and bundles. 88% of these units are from bundles so 12% were sold between Steam, GoG, Humble, Desura etc…

Interesting thing is that we released a demo at launch on Steam and at the exact same time on PlayStation 3, back in February 2014. As of today, the demo has been downloaded 150 000 times on PS3 and 10 000 on Steam. This big difference shows how the two stores are made regarding demos: when you go to the PS3 demo section on the PSN store, Ethan’s demo is 3rd or 4th line in Europe, which makes it strongly downloaded since. Exposure! And yet we sold more units on Steam than on PS3, despite way less demo downloads. So we wonder: do demos really matter anymore? Was our demo not good enough?

So… You’re rich now?

Not really. Let’s talk about revenue: when you compare PS3, Steam and Vita revenues you have:

  1. PS3 41%
  2. Steam 32%
  3. Vita 27%

And keep in mind that in terms of units we have:

  1. Steam
  2. PS3
  3. Vita

So obviously the average net revenue per unit sold is very different: it’s 80% more important on Vita compared to Steam’s one, and +91% on PS3 than Steam! Why is that? On Steam, 9% of total units were sold full price = 91% discounted. To compare, 60% of our units were sold discounted on PS3 and 65% on Vita: it’s still a lot, I would point mainly PS+ discounts that are very effective and we did many discounts as, well, we needed money in. We got asked about our Steam Cards revenue: it represents 1.2% of our total Steam revenue.

Is this low average revenue on Steam a consequence of doing a bundle before release? Being part of multiple bundles? Or just the way less famous/excellent games are sold on Steam? Also to note that we only got exposure on Steam when we were discounted… So there’s that. However, we’ve had something similar on Vita: after our first discount, our weekly sales (full price) decreased, but they were still stronger compared to Steam.

Now when we include all PC revenues and not only Steam:

  1. PC 57%
  2. PS3 26%
  3. Vita 17%

PC is obviously our first source of revenue but Steam isn’t the leader:

  1. Bundles 39%
  2. Steam 34%
  3. PlugInDigital 17%
  4. Humble Widget & GoG 5% each

With 4 bundles including Humble Bundle (PlugInDigital weekly one), bundles are our first source of revenue… Not really good news, is it? Is that a new trend for “normal” games? PlugInDigital is our distribution partner taking care of Amazon, Green Man Gaming, Desura (etc…) but they also got some retail deal we wouldn’t have had by ourselves and most of bundles we were in are thanks to them. We could possibly have been into these bundles by ourselves but reality is we didn’t, so:

  1. PlugInDigital 51%
  2. Steam 34%
  3. Bundles (we did one ourserlves), Humble Widget & GoG 5% each

If we keep Bundles apart and just keep the PlugInDigital Humble Bundle, which obviously wouldn’t have happened without them, we have:

  1. PlugInDigital 39%
  2. Steam 34%
  3. Bundles 17%
  4. Humble Widget & GoG 5% each

Basically Humble Bundle is 50% of our bundles revenue! Very important and have a major advance on other bundles, just like Steam has on other stores.

What we learned and doing differently with Inside My Radio

Art is First

Well, technically in Inside My Radio music and sound are first but Art is second, both ahead of gameplay. On average, people stayed only 17 seconds on our Steam page: they basically look at screenshots and very briefly our game description. Art in Ethan got the product almost killed, so we’re trying to avoid that. However, gameplay is still something important for us as core gamers, but when there’s a conflict, it’s 1) Sound 2) Art 3) Gameplay.

Testing the product

We started working on Inside My Radio back in December 2013, about the same time we posted the Ethan postmortem. What we did is show the game to people we know without really announcing the game. We tested the pitch of the game, the art, the feeling before announcing anything. We actually showed it at a couple of local gaming events to gather people thoughts about the game and make changes accordingly. Then announce something (hopefully) more solid, more polished.

We also playtested the game with Steam gamers and turned out people who say they prefer rhythm game very much enjoy it, whereas people who prefer platformers enjoy it but not as much. It confirmed our communication: it’s all about the rhythm and that’s what’s special about the game.

Putting aside the fact Ethan wasn’t art-appealing, we did not do a great job at showing what was special about it. In the launch trailer, the telekinesis feature only appears at the 34th second… Way too late. Focusing on what is special about Inside My Radio, a rhythm-driven platformer adventure where your actions must follow the beat to bring music back alive, is top priority now.

Getting the first impression, the first feeling, right

Ethan was a hard game. Not “difficult” (well a bit), but hard to get into it. From our Steam leaderboards, we discovered that out of all people who finished the tutorial, half of them stopped playing after the third level. We lost 50% of our players after only 3 levels out of 50! Only 7% did start the second world (out of 3), which means that 93% of people who started the game only played one third of it. And finally, only 0,95% actually finished it… Congrats 🙂

So yeah, loosing half of your players who actually started it is not what you want. Not to mention only 16% of people who own Ethan on Steam actually finished the tutorial… So when they start, you want them to enjoy and stay with your game, otherwise what’s the point of developing all of this content? As mentioned, we did a playtest to improve our rhythm feedback and tutorial. With such a strong mechanic, people usually have rhythm or not, we need to make sure most people find it enjoyable to play the game!

We spent a lot of time doing multiple iterations of the game in order to have the best possible feeling for most gamers. We definitely switched from “let’s do 50 levels” like in Ethan to “let’s get this feeling right and plan the content to what makes sense for the story”. Quality over quantity.

There are so many great games out there every month that having a “good” game like Ethan and its 70% of positive reviews is just not enough. To break through we have to be excellent and have that feeling right. 90% positive games are just the norm in today’s market.

Less press, more banners

With our strong marketing/PR team of half a man (that’s not because he’s short, that’s because this), we decided to switch from “send an email to every single video game blog out there” to focus on the bigger ones and spend the saved time to put sales and operations in place. Getting banners! If your product is king, then banners are vital. It’s about fitting into platforms’ politics, like we did with the IndieFrenchSale operation on Steam in September or with the Vita version of Ethan using front touch screen and back touch pad. Supporting console features to make your game unique and fit better on the platform helps a lot! Last but not least, pushing your first discount as far as possible is key to keep strong-full-price weekly sales.

Overall, we’re happy we’ve sold many units but let’s not forget most of them are from bundles, thus not bringing a lot of money. However, it’s enough to survive and have a second chance with Inside My Radio, coming out early next year on PC. Feel free to be honest about the trailer in the comments, that’d help as we’re working on the launch trailer at the moment 🙂


French indie sale on Steam

Sep 17, 2014 @ 19:05

IndieFrenchSale_Page_Background_english

We are very, very and truly, happy to announce that with a dozen French indie developers we’re organizing the French Indie Sale, running today on Steam!

Celebrate top French independent game developers! The promotion features 15 innovative French indie games, pick from hits like Evoland, Fly’N, Strike Vector and gems like Tetrobot and Co., Type:Rider, Ethan: Meteor Hunter and many more!

All of these titles are discounted on Steam starting Sept 17 at 10 am Pacific Time for 48h only until Sept 19 at 10am Pacific time.

You can find the full list below with its dedicated page:

http://store.steampowered.com/sale/frenchindiesale

Get Ethan: Meteor Hunter now! Still only 0.9% succeeded to finish it 100%…And every copy bought will help us finish a better version of Inside My Radio <3 so please share the love!

Introducing Inside My Radio

Jun 2, 2014 @ 14:30

Hello!

We’re super happy to introduce our new project – Inside My Radio!


Inside My Radio is a rhythm-action platformer game where you start as a little green guy living inside a broken boombox. During your quest to fix it, you journey through different musical worlds where all the actions you perform must be synchronized with the beat of the music.

Let the astonishing music made by Joachim NEUVILLE guide you through this beat-driven world!

IMR_Header

Check out the official website for more informations, follow us on Twitter for latest news or like on Facebook!

Inside My Radio is planned for digital stores on PC and Consoles sometimes when it’s ready… But way before 2016 don’t worry! We may do a Kickstarter in the Summer so keep in touch!

ETHAN: METEOR HUNTER RELEASES ON VITA NEXT WEEK

Apr 10, 2014 @ 16:05

“Touch screen, rear touch pad, ooouuuuhlala!”

IMG_0701

The first day we showed you guys Ethan: Meteor Hunter, all you asked was to get a PS Vita version. That was a bit offensive for the PlayStation 3 version we released back in October, and yet, here it is!

Today we are very happy to announce Ethan: Meteor Hunter will release on PlayStation Vita next week on 15th April (SCEA) / 16th April (SCEE) for $9.99 / £7.99 / 9.99€ !

PS Plus members can claim a 20% discount for the launch week and the game is of course cross buy with the PlayStation 3 version!

PS Vita version features touch screen to manipulate objects, I’ll let you have a look:

The rear touch pad has not been forgotten as you can use it to rotate objects when grabbing them with R:

If fancy a review code, feel free to contact us press_@_seaven-studio_._com and in the meantime have a loor at our updated our online presskit.

Let’s not forget about Steam and try to get some exposure there with a weeklong deal 75% off starting Monday for PC gamers to enjoy!

Hope you guys will enjoy the game as much as we had making it! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for the latest news! We will be soon announcing our next game… 😉

Ethan: Meteor Hunter coming to Vita, releases on Steam and gets a PS3 & PC demo

Feb 4, 2014 @ 11:27

Hey guys!

cover_final_01

We’re super happy to announce that Ethan: Meteor Hunter, often described as “when Super Meat Boy meets Braid” and released 22nd October on PlayStation 3 and PC, will arrive on PlayStation Vita very soon! We will announce a definitive release date once it’s been approved by Sony.

« We’re really glad with this Vita version of Ethan: Meteor Hunter » says Olivier PENOT, producer & co-founder at Seaven Studio. « The touch screen just made sense with the telekinesia feature. This is something players asked for and we listened, this is really a community release! ».

Have a look on the front touch screen feature:

But also the Rear Touch Pad!

We are releasing this week a PlayStation 3 demo of Ethan: Meteor Hunter for everybody to taste the challenge. Finally, full game is -50% off this week for PS+ members, 30% off for everybody. And YES, the Vita title will be cross-buy with the PlayStation 3 one. So that’s a Vita game at 50% off to try right now!

fichier-1bis

Last but not least, Ethan: Meteor Hunter got greenlit on Steam early January, thanks to Reddit following our post mortem. We are very happy to announce that the Steam version of the game will be available this Friday 7th February with -20% off launch discount. It will be feature leaderboards, achievements, cloud save, full controller support with big picture mode and steam trading cards! A demo of the game will also be available on Friday exclusively via Steam. All owners of the game via our website www.ethan-game.com will enjoy a free Steam key as soon as available! As Reddit took a great part of that release, we’ll be doing an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on 7th February at 18:00 GMT+1 (Central Europe) which is 9:00am PST.

If we sum-up this heavy announcement:

  • Ethan: Meteor Hunter comes to Vita very soon, cross buy and front touch screen featured
  • PlayStation 3 demo is out this week with a special sale on the full game with -50% for PS+ or -30% discount
  • Steam release this Friday 7th with -20% off featuring leaderboards, achievements, cloud save, full controller support with big picture mode and steam trading cards.
  • PC demo exclusively available on Steam at release
  • AMA on Reddit 7th February at 18:00 GMT+1 (Central Europe) / 09:00am PST.

Many more gamers will enjoy the tough challenge of Ethan: Meteor Hunter, awarded “Best Digital Game of 2013” by HCGamer.pl! Polish people have great taste.

Christmas Sales!

Dec 20, 2013 @ 12:10

Hello guys,

It’s Christmas time and we’re going to rest a bit after this full year of rollercoaster emotions! In order to celebrate, you can now buy or offer Ethan: Meteor Hunter at 50% off right here! You’ll get a Steam Key as soon as a Steam version will be available.

You can also count on PlayStation 3 sales with the game now at 7.99€/$ and 6.39€/$ for PlayStation Plus members (SCEA & SCEE).

We also involved ourselves in charity for the hungry ones, making Ethan: Meteor Hunter available in the “Holiday Helpings” Groupees’ bundle. Each $1 donated during this event gives 1 meal for the hungry: http://groupees.com/hh

ethan_noel

Thank You Reddit Sale

Dec 7, 2013 @ 20:14

To keep you updated on the crazy past 24h we just had if you don’t follow us on Twitter (you should @SeavenStudio ).

The post mortem went sort of viral, somebody posted it on Reddit and it has now more than 900 comments on it! Head over there : http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/1s9nnn/indie_devs_spend_year_making_ethan_meteor_hunter/

TotalBiscuit (240k followers) tweeted about the postmortem too which crashed our website for a short moment due to a lot of visits at once!

https://twitter.com/Totalbiscuit/status/409077758396882944

So 24h later:

-> 100+ comments on the blogpost http://www.seaven-studio.com/indies-going-all-in-with-self-publishing-an-ethan-meteor-hunter-post-mortem

-> 830+ upvotes on Steam Greenlight, we’re now #84 place in the chart! A giant bump! http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=144842352

Capture d’écran 2013-12-07 à 20.13.28-> we’ve sold around 30 copies extras since the post mortem went live, thanks for the support! That’s +25% bump : )

And of course countless precious feedbacks on why you didn’t buy the game 🙂 mostly “never heard of it” & “art is not appealing”. We’ll make sure to keep you posted on what’s next for us and involve you more in the process to avoid these mistakes.

THANK YOU AGAIN for your support, it’s heartwarming 🙂

As a thank you, we’ve just started a “Thank You Reddit” Sale, get Ethan 30% off!  Only for 48h!

Indies going all in with self-publishing: an Ethan: Meteor Hunter post mortem

Dec 4, 2013 @ 7:00

It’s been more than a month since the release of our first game, Ethan: Meteor Hunter, on PC and PlayStation 3. And, well, we’ve been a bit quiet right? Even the tumblr stopped! This past month has been a bit hard for us, as, spoiler alert, sales didn’t quite meet our expectations. But let’s get back a bit, shall we?

Who are we and what are we talking about?

Seaven Studio is a newborn from some ashes of Hydravision, which closed down in September 2012. Since that day, seven former employees decided to go all in and put all of their time (no holidays at all), money (living on unemployment benefits, no salary) and energy (that’s coffee) into a new 100% independent video game studio, self publishing and self funding its games: Seaven Studio.

Ethan: Meteor Hunter is a project we bought back from Hydravision with our savings as we started working on it there. Main design was almost done, we changed things here and there to make it more enjoyable from what was decided over at Hydravision by our former bosses.

What went right

    • We started a company AND finished a game from what we got from Hydravision AND released it simultaneously on PC & PlayStation 3 (gotcha TRCs) in SCEE AND SCEA, 100% self published and self funded
    • We haven’t killed one each other (yet).
    • Game is enjoyable
    • Press likes it: average note is 7/10, some gave us 8/10 and only one 4/10 and two 6/10, way better than the 5/10 we were used to at Hydravision
      • Sometimes described as “Super Meat Boy meets Braid” which is very nice
  • Gamers love it (or they’re all very polite):
    • 98% Greenlight comments are positive or very positive
    • Gamers at show were sticking around to finish the demo
    • At one livestream made with French Team Mortal Gaming, a fan even wrote on her shirt about the game, which is super cool!
  • Press coverage:
    • 360+ mentions of Ethan since early May 2013
    • Including Alpha Demo appreciated by RockPaperShotgun & a great article from Joystiq, mentions from Polygon (1, 2, 3).
    • Lot of nice/excellent previews
    • 30+ reviews of Ethan, only missing the very big website (Kotaku, RPS, Joystiq, etc…)
    • Youtubers side is good too, contacted 200+ of them but same as press, most famous/big ones didn’t reply back

We’re happy on that side from what we would have expected from Hydravision era and also considering we were basically unknown at all.

Publishing

  • 5 different public shows attended: Rezzed, Develop (indie showcase finalist), Gamescom, Eurogamer Expo & Paris Games Week
  • Great great way of meeting players: chatting about what’s good or not about the game. We have changed our tutorial after each show in order to improve it. We added for example the side buttons for better & less frustrating objects positioning.
  • Met a lot of very friendly indie guys (Red Solstice, Hammer Labs hiding from security before Sony Party, shared a room with SwingSwingSubmarine rrrr, Mi-Clos, RunningWithScissors, Nyamyam, etc..)
  • Side note: global publishing budget is 50k€ (18 languages translation, Q&A for PlayStation 3, Age rating, Launch trailer, attending shows with travel and accommodation costs)
  • Couple of articles on PlayStation Blog US & Europe
  • Front of different stores & website for launch (PS Store SCEA, PS Store SCEE, GoG, Eurogamer.fr & GameSideStory)

Getting the word out and beeing present at most shows is pretty satisfying; we’ve really done the maximum we could, considering we’re 9 people. Only regret is not been present at PAX, too late to book!

Overall we feel like we have a good game gamers enjoy it and we couldn’t have done more to get the word out about the game as a new born studio. Good game with good marketing is what it needs, right?

What went wrong

  • Sales

Well, let’s talk about actual sales numbers. Within a month, we have sold on PC:

127 units

Missing a few 0s, right?

When we saw Flippfly post on Race the Sun and its 771 sales we were a bit astonished and were thinking that with all of the shows we’ve been to, all of the communication we done the past months etc.. we should be fine. How naïve we were… Unfortunately we are not allowed to say anything about PlayStation 3 sales, but we are not happy with them at all either, so it doesn’t seem to be a platform problem… Just missing Steam, obviously? With all of games released now on Steam, it doesn’t seem to be as important as it was. Still, can’t be worse than 127 units!

  • Building a community & Steam Greenlight

When we started our communication about Ethan, we planned to have Steam Greenlight in the center of it. We wanted it to be our central hub for communication with the community, rather than setting up our own forum which would have need gamers to set up another account etc… to be where most of our targeted gamers are and already have a Steam account.

I don’t know about other devs but it didn’t work out at all for us. It seems like people spend 30s on each page, vote and then move on. Some stay a bit and leave a comment but we rarely had great chat with gamers over there. We released an Alpha Demo when we announced the game in order to get feedbacks from the community. To this day, demo was downloaded about 2500 times for a 26 000 unique visitors, giving a 9% rate, which is not so bad I’d guess but only a couple of actual feedbacks from it! We definitely need to improve things on this side.

We are still not greenlit and now about 85% way to the top 100… Our major concern about Greenlight is that, imagine gamers who voted “No” back in May and then tried our game at Gamescom in August and loved it? They can’t change their vote unfortunately. You can, my bad.

Oddly enough, we didn’t see any spike on Steam Greenlight when we were at showcases (and God knows how much we asked people to upvote us!), let’s have a look:

greenlight

First July spike? One of my friends forwarded our page to the whole Just Dance team in Paris! Thanks guys! Second mid-august spike? A french youtuber did a video on our Alpha Demo (here). The very small bump right before September 1st is the Rock Paper Shotgun article, enjoying the Alpha demo. The last two spikes around October 1st are a live stream we did with the french team and a tweet asking to upvote us! Hard to tell when was Rezzed, Gamescom or even release of the game hu?

  • Translation on 19 languages

Our core value is gamers proximity, making them part of the development of the game (thus the Alpha Demo). It just made sense then to translate the game to as many languages as possible in order to be closer to as many gamers as possible. Turns out, I’m not sure we had more coverage from these countries and sales are definitely not encouraging us to do the same (Russia aside) if we’re lacking out of money. Not to mention all of the many funny characters to support  : )

  • Good value and focus on Gameplay are not appealing

We put the game at 10$ = 7,5€ which feels for us super fair with 3 worlds and 50 levels and strong replay value with time attacks, leaderboards and secret cheeses unlocking secret levels! That means between 7 to 10 hours of pretty good fun. Bref, we knew it wasn’t the perfect game so we wanted gamers to feel like they didn’t waste their money by having a great value. Did not really worked out. Maybe we should have had it at 13$ and always -20% off ?

Also, having a strong gameplay feature and good variations throughout the game was essential for us.. We strongly believed these two would drive sales but having a good experience (graphics/sounds) seems to be more important even if the length of the game is 2 or 3 hours. Most reviews pointed the lack of “soul” in the game: we should have spent some time on that instead of adding more levels.

Our ideas on why it didn’t sell (at all):

  • Release window

Releasing a puzzle platformer a month after GTA V and a month before next gen consoles is not the greatest idea. Story of the release date is totally linked to GTA V by the way: when we started the company, we wanted to release mid September and  before next gen as our engine was already compatible PlayStation 3 and self publishing has always been allowed there. So it just made sense. Then, obviously, GTA V got delayed to mid September, and we aimed end of August. Just like all of the other games and especially Rayman Legends, a direct competitor. At some point we were considering releasing PC version beginning of August and PS3 in October but we figured it was more powerful to release both versions at the same time. Turned out early August was pretty strong in terms of indie release too.

  • Art / Experience

Finally, the art style was “okay” and clean for us but we didn’t think it would hurt. It would appear the art and the mouse (which is supposed to be a rat, erm) don’t appeal and are not connected with our brutal gameplay. We were pretty satisfied too considering the progress made since the Hydravision prototype:

Conclusion

Are we in this indie bubble where one-good-but-normal-game (= not Stanley Parable) can only sell with sales and bundles, not full price? Not to mention not being on Steam… Or are we just feeling this console transition too where sales always slow down?

So our question is simple: why didn’t you buy the game? Let us know so we don’t do the same mistake(s) next time, if we manage to have a next time.

More about the game over here and upvote us on Greenlight over there.

Ethan: Meteor Hunter available 22nd October on PC & PlayStation 3!

Oct 14, 2013 @ 8:24

At last, our first born will be yours soon. On 22nd of October!

  • 22nd October on PC worldwide for $9.90/7,50€/5,90£ at http://www.ethan-game.com
  • 22nd October on PlayStation 3 SCEA for $9.99
  • 23rd October on PlayStation 3 SCEE for 9.99€

To celebrate have a look at our Debut Trailer, telling you a bit more about the story of Ethan: Meteor Hunter

This means that happy owners of ‘Early Adopter’ and ‘Supporter’ Editions will be able to play the game on Friday 18th October, 5 days before anyone else! Perfect for the week end : ) Pre-order when you still can on http://www.ethan-game.com !