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Octodad shares the reality of an indie hit: $4.9M in revenue for 2.7 years of work

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Developer Rami Ismail talked about the need to share the reality of game development in a recent post, and there's nothing more eye-opening than a developer sharing both what it cost to make a game, and what they made from those efforts.

We recently talked about the numbers behind Monument Valley, and Young Horses recently opened its virtual books to share the numbers behind Octodad.

young horses data

The $4.9 million in revenue is impressive, and achieving that number with by selling 459,735 units means that the average customer paid a bit over $10 for the game. That's a great stat when it seems like everyone is waiting for a sale and pricing is often seen as a race to the bottom.

It also means that no one is getting rich, especially since we don't know how much of that nearly $5 million is profit. With nine members of the core development team working for 2.7 years the development cost was likely substantial, and the cost of everything from travel to computers can quickly add up. Getting a booth at a show like PAX can be crucial to spreading the word about your game, and that space doesn't come cheap.

There are a few more interesting bits in the data.

young horses data

The game supported eight control methods, but only 40 percent of players used a game pad. Also, YouTube videos of the game were by far the most effective way to get people to see the game. There's no way for Young Horses to add up the page views of all the stories about the game, but I'm going to go out on a limb and state that number would be much less than 200 million views. I'd also be very proud that 37 percent of players finished the story, that's a great level of engagement, although brevity likely had something to do with it.

Also, localizing the game for other languages is a great thing to do for fans in other markets, but it's not exactly a great way to boost sales: The top non-English versions of the game accounted for 10.7 percent all revenue combined. Localization brings cost, and it would be interesting to know if it paid for itself with these sales.

You can also read our feature about what goes into a game like Octodad; certain members of the team worked jobs in order to support the rest living in a communal. This isn't an easy lifestyle.

This data raises some questions, but the overall message is clear: It takes a lot of time and talent to make a game, and even big sales aren't enough to do much more than make a game profitable to help fund the next title. That's a huge accomplishment in a field this competitive, but it's time to stop pretending these games make anyone enough for their own candy rooms.