Monday, November 25, 2013

Ouya promotion...

Apparently Ouya is going to be promoting Hidden in Plain Sight over the Thanksgiving weekend.

There is also recent news that Ouyas (Ouyay?) are in Target stores across the country, which is pretty cool.  Sales have definitely dropped off since the initial surge of Kickstart units were all shipped en masse, but that is to be expected.  But it's still selling pretty regularly, and people are still spending more than the minimum, which is nice.

If you want to get it for the Ouya, you can find the game here.

Friday, July 12, 2013


Hidden in Plain Sight is going through a bit of a renaissance, which is kind of exciting.  First of all, the Ouya has officially launched, and HIPS is selling dozens of units per day.  And even though the minimum required price is $0.99, the average price people are paying is over $2, so that’s kind of cool.

Furthermore, a very popular YouTube channel has done a series of three videos, which cumulatively have over half a million views.  That’s led to a big spike in sales on the Xbox… 4000 copies sold in the first 11 days of this month.  If it’s anything like the Great SourceFed Spike of ’12, I expect there to be quite a long tail of sales as word of mouth spreads.


I got this email yesterday.  It looked like spam on the surface, but here’s what it said:

Hi I am 14 and i have played this game called "Hidden in Plain Sight ". i think you might know it. this game is really fun and i have played it with my sister and my friend and it is better than any 60 $ game i have ever bought.   me and my sister are not really close and we fight alot. this game made us laugh together and we had a good time together. its been a while since that happened. Thank you.

I was very emotionally touched by this.  It’s one thing to make a silly little game that people like playing, but to think that I’ve perhaps had some hand in helping create or restore a bond of friendship between friends or family… that’s a big deal.  So that was really cool.

I want to make a new game.  I’ve been fooling around in Unity, and getting lots of inspiration from all kinds of sources, but just am lacking the time and energy to actually sit down and work.  Maybe soon.  My daughter and I have been playing Fariune on the iPad, and she’s really enjoying it.  So my latest thoughts are a adventure’ish game kind of like Ultima IV.  Big world, lots of little puzzles and items to find and unlock areas of the world.  We’ll see.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Price of Entertainment

Pricing games…

I have no idea how much to sell a game for.  And this is fascinating to me.

On the Xbox Live Indie Games market, it’s pretty clear that that selling a game for more than 80MSP ($1) is suicide.  Even bumping it up to 240MSP ($3) will reduce your sales be MORE than three times.  I think this is pretty well documented by people who have changed the price of their game.

Now, I’ve ported Hidden in Plain Sight over to the Ouya, and I left the minimum price at a dollar.  That only seems fair, right?  Why should it cost more on one system than another?  It’s the same product, it should cost the same.

However, I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from the players themselves that this is too cheap, and they’d gladly pay more. 

What I ended up doing was adding the option to pay any number of choices: $1, $3, $5, $10, $15, or $50.  And this has worked out really well.  About 40% of the people spend $1, and 55% spend $3 or $5, and then there’s the occasional $10 and $15.  What this indicates to me is that I was really leaving money on the table before.

Another thing that is strange to consider is that most people wouldn’t hesitate to spend $10 to go out and see a movie.  In fact, four friends could easily drop $50 collectively for a two hour experience, if you included a drink and some candy or something.  So why is it so difficult to even consider spending $5 or $10 on something that (according to some people) offers more entertainment value?

I’m not casting aspersions… I have a hard time spending even a few dollars on a quality iPad app, so I’m guilty of the same thing.  It’s just weird.

Anyways, based on the feedback I’ve gotten, I’m going to add a “donation” product to the game.  I figure if people want to give me extra money, I should make it as easy as possible for them to do so.

And finally, I’d like to go on record again and say that I’m not doing this for the money.  It’s a nice side effect, but I’d much rather get a nice email or tweet from someone than a dollar.  In other words, the happy feeling I get from making a game that has brought some family and friends closer together is worth more to me than a dollar.

Thursday, May 23, 2013



Hidden in Plain Sight has been published for the Ouya.  The free version includes unlimited play of Ninja Party and Death Race (which I think are the two best modes, but others disagree).  For $0.99, you get the other three modes unlocked, as well as the customizable options to play with.

I'm looking forward to hearing how Ouya players like it...  if you happen to have played it on the Ouya, leave a note and let me know how it all worked out for you.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Right in the feels...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Felicia Day

If elections were held for King and Queen of gaming and geek culture, I imagine Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day would be on the short list of nominees.  In fact, it was seeing a headline that Felicia Day was going to be hosting IndieCade that got me wondering if perhaps I should enter my game.  When I was actually at IndieCade and saw Felicia at the awards party, I was really hoping that she’d walk around during the Press/VIP time and play some of the games.  It would have been a thrill for me to show her my game.  But alas, I never saw her.  No big deal, but it’s kind of become a secret unfulfilled goal that’s stuck in my head.  Well, not really a goal, because there’s not much I can do about it, but an unfulfilled “cool thing that would be really neat if it happened”.

Every so often, I search for “Hidden in Plain Sight” on Google and Twitter to see if anyone is talking about it.  The other day, I saw a post from someone named “Josie Kavadoy”, responding to someone else asking her what she was playing these days.  She said “Hidden in Plain Sight”.  Now I have no idea who Josie Kavadoy is, but I tweeted back asking what her favorite modes were, and if she had any feedback for me.  She noted a technical issue with MS (nothing to do with the game), and then said that they mentioned the game in some video, and provided a link.

I figure maybe it was a little podcast or something, so I click the link.  It’s the “The Guild Season Finale G+ Hangout”. 

Holy shit.  For those who don’t know, The Guild is Felicia Day’s web show thing (created and written and starring her) that has a pretty decent cult following.  It’s an ensemble cast, and they do G+ Hangouts (live multiway video chats) where they shoot the shit about stuff.  Anyways, they talk about what they’re playing, and one of the stars of the show, Sandeep Parikh, calls out over his shoulder “Josie, what are we playing these days?” and the woman behind him calls out “Hidden in Plain Sight and Dominion”.  (Dominion is a tabletop card game, which is also a lot of fun).

So this random Josie turned out to be girlfriend(?) of a guy on the Guild.

In the Hangout, Sandeep then takes a minute or two to describe the game to the rest of the cast (including, of course, Felicia Day).  I wondered if she’d recognize the title from IndieCade, but she didn’t.  It’s a hard, awkward game to try to describe to other people, but they agreed it sounded neat, and the conversation moved on.

This morning, in response to Josie’s tweets, he said:

Pretty damn cool.  But it’s also really made me think.

Why do I care if Ms. Day plays my game?  In the end, I guess I don’t really know.  She’s a big name, and I’m somewhat star-struck.  If Twitter followers are any indication, I have about 250.  Josie as 1000.  Sandeep has 35K.  She has 2 million.

The other dirty elephant in the room is that with that many followers, she has clout.  A mere mention of the game on Twitter would lead to exposure and sales.  And while that’s what every indie developer dreams of, it kind of sullies the waters for me.  I don’t care that much about exposure and sales.  I mean, I do, but I don’t.  I care more about people liking the game and thinking it’s fun than anything else.  And to that end, it doesn’t matter if it’s a big name like Felicia Day or Wil Wheaton, or a random guy from Scotland named Joe Dillon.  Each opinion is worth the same to me.

So I guess in the end, I’ll do what I’ve done from the beginning.  If the game is fun, it will market and sell itself.  And if it’s not fun, and people don’t like it, then trying to spread the word won’t work anyways. 

Monday, February 11, 2013


Hidden in Plain Sight has been purchased 10,000 times.

This is such a staggering figure to me, I don’t really even know how to process it.  It’s stunning, really.  When I first made Bad Golf, the idea of 10,000 sales was my huge “wouldn’t that be awesome if…” dream scenario.  I never expected it to actually happen, but you can’t put something up for sale and not harbor some secret dreams of it getting huge.  And with Bad Golf, it didn’t.

So, I don’t really know what to say.  I really wish I could take credit for cracking into some untapped resource of game design and done something really revolutionary (like Guitar Hero or Portal or Journey).  But maybe that’s not the way it has to work to be successful.  Maybe you just have to make a game that is fun, and that motivates people to tell their friends about it.

If anything, I think that’s what I’ve learned.  There are plenty of games that are fun, but aren’t particularly interesting to tell other people about.  But Hidden in Plain Sight, being a social game, somehow lends itself to sharing it with friends.  It’s not only fun, but it’s fun to share.  As in “Oh, you HAVE to play this.”  That’s not a component of a game you typically study in Game Design 101.  And I didn’t either, but somehow stumbled upon it.

By far, the biggest influence on sales were the SourceFed videos that came out in October, and those were a direct result of the game being shown at IndieCade.  Those led to hundreds of sales immediately, but also created an initial shockwave big enough to spread out over time and generate thousands of sales since then.   If one person out of every twenty tells a friend and leads to another sale, then you can see how some initial influx of players will lead to a long-tail of sales.  I think that’s what happened.

For those interested, 10,000 sales means $10,000.  But Microsoft takes 30%, and then withholds some tax (I just got a 1099 from Microsoft Corp, which is kind of neat), so I think I’ve net around $6000 over the past year.