World of Goo Birthday Sales

By: Derek Yu

On: October 20th, 2009

World of Goo Birthday Sales

I haven’t been able to access the 2dBoy blog for some reason, but I trust that Rock, Paper, Shotgun has reported this accurately: Kyle and Ron have released sales stats for their birthday sale experiment. During the week-long sale you could pay whatever you wanted for World of Goo.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of people paid $2 and under. But I think things worked out well for 2dBoy in the end – they made 57,000+ sales and generated $100,000+ in one week. Not a bad present for the young game (and its proud papas)!

A survey that players could take after purchasing the game reveals more interesting information.

  • alastair

    yeah when I’ve tried accessing the blog it usually takes me to the games page – except I got onto it a couple of days ago.

  • Andrew

    Try clearing your cache, that helped me.

  • jack

    Wow, very nice numbers, even the players who probaly would just pirate the game gave about 168 dollars this guys, vr=ery nice

  • Cliftor

    Yeah, I was talking about this over at gamefaqs. I actually have more negative feelings about this.

    Yeah, a sale is good and it’s good to see they made money. My scruples were that the “name your own price” model, while successful from a promotion standpoint, did NOT maximize his revenue and would be a bad idea as a main strategy.

    For one, every financial transaction is a service and costs money. Plus there’s his bandwidth costs. He touched on this when he pointed out at that all sales at 30 cents or less went entirely to paypal. Lower priced transactions also have higher percentage fees. I have no idea how much bandwidth and other costs eat into each sale, but it isn’t nothing.

    So, in other words, almost 50% of all his sales contributed virtually nothing to his revenue… and many may have been a net loss.

    This is great for a one-time promotion, obviously, but I hope no one gets the wrong idea that this is the way to go as a normal pricing model. From that point of view I find this sale kinda sobering :(

    ^5 to 2D Boy for this success, though.

  • Lord Metroid

    The blog page is an embedded wordpress… If you hover the mouse cursor on the blog hyperlink you see that it takes you to their frontpage rather than the blog page.

    Wonder why they did that?

  • ran24

    Should’ve just made it $5. People would’ve been happy with that.

  • Derek

    Cliftor: Yeah, there’s really only one guaranteed strategy, imo, and that’s to have a well-marketed and successful game. Looking at someone else’s successful business model and trying to hammer it into your own situation is never a good idea. If you have a good game, many business models will work for you, and if you don’t, they won’t.

  • ionside

    Some interesting comments left on the survey. Some silly ones too.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  • zeekthegeek

    Cliftor: It feeds and houses their entire (2 person) studio for a year even if only 50 percent goes to them (I’d say it’s probably more like 70 percent, the game files aren’t huge and Paypal was asking 13 percent). It also had the effect of boosting their Steam sales up by 40 percent over last week, and that’s even more money. All in all it’s probably a banner week for the game. So really, mission successful for them, and more importantly now more people know them, their game, and so on and will recommend their friends buy it even after it returns to $20.

    They also extended the sale an additional week, now ending on the 25th of October.

  • simonc

    One of the most unintuitive things about making indie games – if you have a game with broad reach – is that it’s basically impossible to exhaust the reservoir of people who might be interested in buying your game, if you can spread the net wide enough.

    So, just as Ron found that selling the game on Big Fish at $7 didn’t erode the sales at $20 (which seems weird for us guys ‘in the know’ about indie games), I’m pretty sure that these limited time sales won’t erode long-term sales numbers for them. It’s just extra money and more happy players who want to see what 2D Boy is doing next.

  • Chris.R

    Wow, I didn’t know it was that cheap at Big Fish. I have no problem with promotions (like his birthday sale), but having the same product priced at two different amounts indefinitely seems a bit unkind to the people who pay more.

  • Craig Timpany

    $5 seems to be be the sweet spot, I’ve got some graphs here:

    Oddly enough, most of the survey respondents say it’s worth $12, so perhaps it’s better to have two price segments; start out selling it at $12, and then do a half price sale later.

  • Nikica

    @link from Craig, heh funny post name, the “radiohead model” is a little different thou’ as you can get an album for 0,00 and not 0,01. Yeah that’s how a cheap bastard I am, and proud of it. :D

  • robolee

    it seems less than 27 people donated exactly $13.37.

    Less than $0.50 probably shouldn’t be allowed and is basically wasted, when 10,000 sales makes you only $100 you know there’s not much point, that could feed two celebrating families for … a day. but the rest of the sales make up for it I suppose.

  • thebeefiest

    I cant stand the kinds of people who are too uninformed to realize that anything less than $1 is costing them money instead of contributing. Pirate the damn thing its cheaper for the developer at that point!

  • Jay

    well, better 2 bucks than another more pirated copy!

  • blueskirt

    According to, Paypal is losing money too from transactions under 30 cents, so I’m not sure if these 16 000 one cent donations significantly affected their profit. In the best case, Paypal covered the loss on these 1 cents donations.

    If someone decide to use the same model again, posting a warning regarding $0,01-$0,99 donations on the donation page would probably be a good idea.

    Now that we have actual profit numbers, people will now stop believing 2DBoy are starving artists and freak out a bit less about the whole +80% piracy announcement.

  • Excel

    Doing some number crunching, and making some pretty conservative assumptions (.30 cents goes to transaction with losses covered by paypal, 50% profit margin on DD sales after all other costs, and actual price paid weighed heavily towards the low end of the range) they still made just over 51,905 dollars. In one day that’s not a bad turn and roughly the equivalent of selling 5273 full priced games. I’d be interested to hear daily download numbers but I imagine not only was it an effective promotion but also was a money maker.

    @blueskirt, there might be some backlash to putting any restrictions on, even just suggested ones. Not sure how big that backlash would be, but it could exist.

  • Stephen

    I think this pricing model can be even more successful than this data shows.

    1) A large portion of the people who paid very little for the game mentioned “risk” in the survey. This seems to be a common sentiment: people don’t want to pay a lot for a game they may or may not enjoy. A lot of these people then return to donate. I myself only paid $10 for the game, but I loved it so much I returned to give them ten more.

    2) The people who pay nothing for the game and never do are still a benefit. When a game is available for free, it will reach many more people, so very many more people. This also means it will reach more people willing to pay. Most of the people playing for free wouldn’t have bought the game in a traditional pricing model.

    The only downsides are

    a) People who would pay for the game, but get it for free because they can. I believe that this number is much smaller than many would think. All of who got WoG for free had plenty of time to buy the game, but didn’t.

    b) The extra bandwidth from people playing for free, who wouldn’t have played at all without the option. I would argue that the extra advertising from the fast spread of the game more than makes up for this.