Dustforce dev shows how Humble Bundle and Steam sales fueled game's success

The developer of 2D "sweep-'em-up" platformer Dustforce, Hitbox Team, offered detailed sales data on its PC game today, illustrating how Steam sales and inclusion in a Humble Bundle had a substantial impact on the financial success and exposure of the game.

Hitbox Team's Terence Lee wrote in a post on the developer's website that the small team developed Dustforce from prototype to full game over the course of a year and a half, primarily living — rather frugally — off $100,000 in proceeds won from a game development contest. To sustain themselves and fund development of their next game, Hitbox estimated they'd need to bring in around $300,000 to $400,000 with Dustforce.

On the game's first day on sale through Steam, Lee wrote, "we sold 4,796 copies — a revenue of $44,141."

"It was hard to extrapolate this into the long term," he wrote, "obviously we wouldn't be selling this many copies every day, but how long would the initial surge last? After around two months, the trajectory of sales took shape." Sales tapered off quickly, with a little over 1,000 sales on day seven of Dustforce's availability, dipping to 100 at the 30 day mark, then down to about 35 copies a day two months in.

"For every $10 copy of Dustforce sold, $4.41 of it ended up in our pockets."

"The first three days of sales accounted for half of our cumulative revenue for the first three months of sales," Lee explained.

An update to the game adding new features and Mac support timed with a "Midweek Madness" sale on Steam saw Dustforce sales spike: from 29 copies in one day to 7,383. Again, sales tapered off, this time more dramatically following the sale.

Months later, a Humble Bundle sale led to Dustforce's biggest sales spike.

"The Humble Bundle was a great success: we made roughly $153,915, and unlike the last promotion, we did notice an increase in Steam sales afterwards," Lee wrote. Sales timed to Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays helped push the game's revenue further, to $668,490. That translated to $489,404 for Hitbox Team, enough to sustain development of its next title, Spire.

More detail, including sales graphs that illustrate the game's revenue for the year, is available at the developer's website.

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