Postmortem: The Man with the Invisible Trousers

Greetings. I bring you interesting details about The Man with the Invisible Trousers, exactly 4 weeks in.

100 hours spent.
$5180 made.
1.6 million views est. (My stat tracker had 7 days of downtime, while the game was on many front pages. So this will forever be +-100k views.)

The Man with the Invisible Trousers is a fairly generic puzzle game. What’s unique is the presentation – a funky noir, with a dynamic murder mystery plot, and some witty dialogue. If ever I want to sell myself as a writer or designer, this should be my resume; I dare say this game would have sunk like a stone if it weren’t for the presentation. (It has more glitches than I have fingers, and the character movement is rather slippery and messy. It’s an on-par game, nothing groundbreaking.)

The important point with this game was that it was created quickly. I made a series of videos documenting my creation process, and though in general I was not able to put tons of hours in per day, the entire game was produced in 32 days and a mere 65 hours’ creation. That includes all programming, art, and levels, plus time to commission a voice actor and a musician. (Here’s the link to those videos.) I got a lot of player feedback, and made some small but important changes, totalling 70 hours’ work.

I’d estimate that overall, I’ve put 100 hours into this game by now; advertising it to sponsors, implementing branding, and so on.

The total profits of the game, to this point, are $5180. That is over $50/hour, which is a fine professional salary, certainly very good for an 18 year old on a cheap laptop. (Which broke during the final stages of production, yay!)

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Primary: $600, with CPMStar ads. Bidding was fair, but no sponsor seemed to have huge confidence in my game. Certainly, none of the bids I got had faith that the game would get the amount of views that it has.
  • Nonexs: $2050. I haven’t made much effort selling these, since I find them somewhat dull to sell. Maybe I’ll put my back into it, but to be honest, I prefer just getting on with Project X, or whatever it is that comes next.
  • CPMStar: $2245. This is where the main money has rocketed in. More on this in a moment.
  • Kong rev: $285. Good enough, and thanks goes to Porter, who encouraged me to put the API in just after the game front paged, while it was getting thousands of plays.

Now, this is a generally good result. So, what were the good and bad sides?

  • It got on the front page of tons of sites, really just crossing them off like a bingo card. Kongregate, Newgrounds, Armor, NotDoppler, and too many other smaller sites to list.
  • Primary sponsorship was low; no single party put faith in it, besides myself. It only got an editor’s rating of 7, putting it below the majority of frontpage-worthy games. To be honest, this should have been easy to sell for $2000 or more, but for whatever reason, it just didn’t.
  • It was a hit in the USA, and got the majority of its views in rich countries. What does that mean? Advertising revenue. From just over a million ad impressions, I got $2200 – a CPM of $2.20. Good news for me!

In total, FGL’s commission price was $110, from one sitelock and the primary. I feel FGL underperformed for me, and also underperformed for themselves; they earned their $110, but I am sure they could have earned $200-400 from this game. (I reported this, and basically got a “Okay, we can’t do anything” response.)

That said, I can’t complain too much; the game has been a success in the wild, regardless of all other factors. It was capable of being even more of a financial success if it had got a representative price in the initial bidding, but then the adverts had a CPM high enough to make it irrelevant. Ultimately, I’m very grateful that the public at large continue to enjoy my games.

This will soon be my second game to hit multi-million plays, and my second with a primary sponsorship under $700. I think I’ve proven my consistent worth as a developer, and with any luck, I’ll be able to get much better prices in future.

Update after 10 months

Since this was written, the game has had a smaller long-tail than Slide Racing, but still a respectable amount, getting a thousand plays per day still.
Roughly 3.9 million plays to date. My financial document states this has made nearly $5400 so far, and it continues to make roughly $25 per month.

Written April 5th 2011, last updated 23rd Jan 2012.

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