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Can you use XNA as a vi[a]ble way to make money?

Last post 1/8/2009 11:41 AM by Novaleaf Software. 49 replies.
  • 11/26/2008 11:28 PM

    Can you use XNA as a vi[a]ble way to make money?

    Im new to XNA but before I start making games and stuff I want to know if i I can make a good amount of money from XNA or if its more like a hobby that you can use on a resume and make a little money? Estimates would be appreciated thanks.
  • 11/26/2008 11:33 PM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    If you can make a game as good or better than Weapon of Choice, you have a shot.  Many, if not most of the games put up so far will be lucky to break the $150 earnings required to get a check.
  • 11/26/2008 11:37 PM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    Reality Shift:
    If you can make a game as good or better than Weapon of Choice, you have a shot.  Many, if not most of the games put up so far will be lucky to break the $150 earnings required to get a check.

    And you based that statement on.....? Maybe you possess some knowledge not made public to the rest of the world?

    Right now, everything is just speculations. We won't know anything until the first checks are paid, and developers talk about it.
  • 11/26/2008 11:39 PM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    If you can develop the gameplay, code and art for a game that people will actually pay for, then you can make money on XNA Community Games. Exactly how much you "can" make is not really limited, but some marketing realities probably will limit the total possible take.

    You should download a few Live! game demos for comparison. Try "A Kingdom for Keflings" or "Age of Booty" and play with them for a while. Do you have the chops to make a game that's as polished, and has as much content, as those games? Remember: those games sell for 800 points each, and were made by groups of programmers and artists. If you can't make games of that quality, then you have to charge less, and you will sell fewer copies, so you will make significantly less gross revenue. (The Game Developer magazine postmortem on Age of Booty claimed that at least the prototype, if not the entire game, was actually written in XNA Game Studio -- it's un-clear on how far they took that).

    Whether that is sufficiently profitable for your needs depends on your cost structure and living situation.

    Oh, and if you haven't ever built a game before, the answer to your question is likely "no." And if you have to ask, the answer is also likely "no."
  • 11/26/2008 11:40 PM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    I did a seance last night.  This is what the magic 8 ball told me. :-)
  • 11/26/2008 11:47 PM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    I would read this thread which asked basically the same question, and make note of the fact that XNA itself is just a framework. If you meant XBLCG, you should say so, but you could use XNA to make a PC title and sell yourself or use XNA to create an XBLA game like Schizoid. These are vastly different markets each with their own level of risk and reward but they all can use XNA as the underlying framework.
  • 11/27/2008 3:02 AM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    Thank you all for helping me with my question. It is nice to know that making games with XNA can be hobby where you make money. jwatte I know I am new and I did not expect to make a game and start rolling in cash I just merely wanted to see what the situation was. I am eager to see how much devs get with their first checks.
  • 12/2/2008 10:10 PM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    Catalin Zima:
    Reality Shift:
    If you can make a game as good or better than Weapon of Choice, you have a shot.  Many, if not most of the games put up so far will be lucky to break the $150 earnings required to get a check.

    And you based that statement on.....? Maybe you possess some knowledge not made public to the rest of the world?

    Right now, everything is just speculations. We won't know anything until the first checks are paid, and developers talk about it.


    Yeah, I'd say it's pretty silly to assume anything at this point.  I'd like to think that since the 360 has a huge installed userbase, and there's only a small selection of community games so far, I wouldn't be surprised if the exposure alone results in decent earnings, even for the, shall we say lower quality releases.
  • 12/3/2008 9:52 PM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    My personal advice would be to put $$ really far down on the list of priorities.    I view this process (XBCG development) more as a personal investment and labor of love.   Some revenue might be in line at some point, but it's rarely a quick or easy road to a fatter wallet. 

    As a sidenote, I feel like this market will work itself out.  Cream will rise to the top and the top Indie developers will get their 5 min of fame, and possibly parlay that in to more and more work.  You have to consider too that we're not TOO far away from the next generation of consoles (assuming a similar pace).  It will partially be up to them regarding how much they want to invest in Indie content, but most signs would point to an increase in attention.   XB360 is certainly getting there and I love what they're doing, but I can also imagine a next gen scenario with much more structure and highlighting of this sub-industry.

  • 12/4/2008 12:00 AM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    This was one of my first questions as well.

    I'm no EA, but I'm not a hobbiest either. I currently sell my titles for Windows (www.maximum-football.com) but have recently started looking at how to pair down the complexity of that game to something more appropriate for this service.
     
    That said, it's still several hundred hours of work to port, and there are expenses that need to be covered (they range from the monthy community fee, to new hardware, to updates of 3D Studio). So there is some expectation of profit.

    A 500 point game equals under $8.00 (less if you're not an American developer). So the first 500 sales pay for 3D studio :) Well, that's not quite correct either I guess as MS takes somewhere from 30% to 60% off the top of those sales too.

    From what I've been told, the royalty amount goes up based on the amount of promotional work microsoft does on your title. Has anyone seen one of these promo packages? 60% take seems like a lot to me, even my current PC publisher doesn't take that much.

    thanks
    David
  • 12/4/2008 12:12 AM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    DavidWinter:


    From what I've been told, the royalty amount goes up based on the amount of promotional work microsoft does on your title. Has anyone seen one of these promo packages? 60% take seems like a lot to me, even my current PC publisher doesn't take that much.



    Right now our guess is that you appear on the 'home page' for community games on the Xbox dashboard. But thats just a guess Microsoft has not said exactly what you will get for this other than its something you can't control and that it will be for a small number of games at a time. Remember they are doing this to increase sales so thy make more profit too so its in their interest to increase your sales by a lot.
  • 12/4/2008 12:33 AM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    The ZMan:
    DavidWinter:


    From what I've been told, the royalty amount goes up based on the amount of promotional work microsoft does on your title. Has anyone seen one of these promo packages? 60% take seems like a lot to me, even my current PC publisher doesn't take that much.



    Right now our guess is that you appear on the 'home page' for community games on the Xbox dashboard. But thats just a guess Microsoft has not said exactly what you will get for this other than its something you can't control and that it will be for a small number of games at a time. Remember they are doing this to increase sales so thy make more profit too so its in their interest to increase your sales by a lot.


    I'd have to think there's some sort of scale at work here.

    Sell 1000 games at 30%
    Sell 1001 to 1500 at 32%
    Sell 1501 to 2500 at 35%

    etc... (those numbers are pulled out the air but I for sake of discussion they'll do)

    I have no problem with MS making money. They've spent a lot of it on the infrustructure and are giving away the tools for free. They've also recently purchased TrueSpace from Caligari (a tool I've been using since 1997) so if you connect the dots, it's possible they could be making a 3D asset creation tool available as well. So they've certianly earned their profit.

    But still, a developer making only 30% (absolute worst case) sort of seems wrong to me. I wonder what JK Rowling makes per copy of Harry Potter.....
  • 12/4/2008 12:41 AM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    DavidWinter:
    But still, a developer making only 30% (absolute worst case) sort of seems wrong to me.
    Well first of all the worst case is actually 60%. At least in the terms of the submission agreement that I agreed to when submitting Bloc said that Microsoft's cut would be between 30% and 60%.

    Secondly I think ZMan is right in that the promotion will likely come close or surpass the difference from the loss in percentages. Let's take Bloc for example. It's not on the New Arrivals or Most Popular. It's not in the featured area. Right now the only people finding it are people who are browsing everything, people specifically looking for it, or people going through the website and getting it from the Xbox.com marketplace. I'd guess our sales rates are rather low right now. If Microsoft were to put us right up front I'd guess we'd sell lots more. We'd make less per unit, but we'd be selling many, many more than we'd be making without the promotion.

    I guess we'll all see when some numbers get out to developers. Then we'll see who sold what, who got promoted, and how it all played out. For all we know Microsoft is currently only going up to 40% but put 60% out there just in case they want to.
  • 12/4/2008 12:59 AM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    DavidWinter:
    But still, a developer making only 30% (absolute worst case) sort of seems wrong to me. I wonder what JK Rowling makes per copy of Harry Potter.....


    You dont want to compare to book publishing... JK is probably the exception but I know that 10-15% of NET price is good for tech books. (NET price is what Amazon etc pay for the book not the end user) so a $35 tech book probably costs Amazon $30 and the author sees 15% of that. i.e. $4.50 per book. 5000 copies is considered a good selling tech book and many sell less.. factor in the 500+ hours you will spend writing it and XBLCG starts looking pretty easy money IMO.
  • 12/4/2008 1:45 AM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    There is no scale. You get 70% of the take, unless Microsoft decides to put you on the "front page," in which case you get somewhere between 30-60% of the take during that time (which they have indicated won't be for more than a few weeks at most).

    Compared to regular publisher terms, where you get 10% or so, those are absolutely fantastic numbers. Of course, Microsoft does not provide any advances, which significantly reduces their risk, so giving the developer significantly more is expected; you don't get anything for totally free :-)


  • 12/4/2008 1:48 AM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?


    a $35 tech book probably costs Amazon $30

    An almost general rule for "discount" trade is that the discounter pays 40% of "full retail" and sells the goods at 60% of "full retail." They can claim "40% off" and still take a nice 50% mark-up. Only a few industries (high-cost consumer electronics, and computers, for example) have lower margins -- in fact, electronics & computers have terrible margins.

    Books have great margins, according to all I've heard from friends in the business. A $35 tech book would cost Amazon maybe $15 or $20 in that case...
  • 12/4/2008 9:48 AM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    jwatte:
    There is no scale. You get 70% of the take, unless Microsoft decides to put you on the "front page," in which case you get somewhere between 30-60% of the take during that time (which they have indicated won't be for more than a few weeks at most).


    Is there any more detail on how MS charge for marketing? I sort of accept that being put on the front page is probably worth 10-40% (although really it depends on how sales end up being driven - it's possible that consumers will get turned off from trying random games, and will only try games they've heard about from websites etc...), but the lack of info is a little concerning, especially in a market with so many unknowns in it already.
  • 12/7/2008 11:51 PM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    I too am very interested to see how much money people make doing this.  If community games sell anything like arcade games then the amount of money to be made could be huge (can you imagine 50,000 or 250,000 or even 1,000,000 copies sold at $10 each and 70% of that being yours?).  But if I do make a game this will be my first game, and even the low end of that range (50,000) seems unreachable, but I'm sure some of the games out there will reach that level of sales.
  • 12/8/2008 5:16 AM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    Legitimacy:
    70% of that being yours
    Don't forget Microsoft's promotion fee of up to 30%.  This leaves potentially only 40%.  Also, if done the same as XBLA, the points to dollars conversion isn't the same as what the user pays, so you can lose 3% (or more...) automatically right there.  So if the user pays $10, you could end up with only $3.88 of that $10.

    Also in the US, you will be likely be paying self-employment tax (15%) which probably don't normally pay on your income tax, so your taxes (Federal + State + Local + Self Employment) can get to 50% or more pretty quick.

    So there is a very real potential of only $1.94 per copy on a "successful" $10 title actually being "yours", or possibly less than $0.50 per copy for a 200 point title.
  • 12/8/2008 7:11 AM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    Reality Shift:
    Don't forget Microsoft's promotion fee of up to 30%.  This leaves potentially only 40%.
    That's only if they are promoting you and for that duration only. Any time before or after that promotion you will receive 70%. In addition they still haven't said if it ever will be 30%. The FAQ is very clear that the percent will be somewhere between 10% and 30% and that they haven't settled on a hard value just yet.

    Also, if done the same as XBLA, the points to dollars conversion isn't the same as what the user pays, so you can lose 3% (or more...) automatically right there.
    In the terms of submission when I submitted Bloc (which also does mention that this figure can change), the exchange rate was $.0121 per MS Point. No need to speculate on that anymore.
  • 12/12/2008 3:31 AM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    Just want to say this thread has been a great read and given me plenty of info to think about when it comes around to getting a game published on xna, thanks everyone.
  • 12/19/2008 5:56 PM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    First of I'd like to agree that this thread has made for a very interesting read alright. My game is still in it's very early stages and I'm not even particularly interested in the money aspect of development (not until I get a job that is). For me at the moment XNA is more of a hobby, a way to increase my portfolio and a way to hone my skills.


    The ZMan:
    DavidWinter:


    From what I've been told, the royalty amount goes up based on the amount of promotional work microsoft does on your title. Has anyone seen one of these promo packages? 60% take seems like a lot to me, even my current PC publisher doesn't take that much.



    Right now our guess is that you appear on the 'home page' for community games on the Xbox dashboard. But thats just a guess Microsoft has not said exactly what you will get for this other than its something you can't control and that it will be for a small number of games at a time. Remember they are doing this to increase sales so thy make more profit too so its in their interest to increase your sales by a lot.



    I think the money aspect of community games is very fair. The only part I would be wary of is the "it's something you can't control" part. Does this mean that microsoft can just put you on the front page (if thats what the extra promotion is) and charge you the extra 30% without your consent?

    If that's the case, let's say your game is already successful because you put a lot of time and effort into promoting and marketing the game yourself through external sources. What's to stop microsoft from bumping you onto the front page and taking your extra profits?

    Don't get me wrong there's no evidence to suggest microsoft would do something like this, and it's their platform - their rules, and I do realise that for microsoft this is first and foremost a business model. But it seems to me the developer should have a say in whether they want the "extra promotion".
  • 12/19/2008 11:05 PM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?



    Does this mean that microsoft can just put you on the front page (if thats what the extra promotion is) and charge you the extra 30% without your consent?

    You already gave them consent when you submitted the game. It's part of the terms. You're free to not submit your game if you don't consent.

    Listen, I don't care if you're Electronic Arts: if you are one of the two Community Games that are featured in the current Xbox interface, you're bound to sell more than twice as many copies as if you're not, no matter how good your marketing and word-of-mouth is. It's RIGHT THERE. It reaches close to 100% of possible buyers, which just being in the catalog, or any media campaign, fails to do.


  • 12/21/2008 3:36 AM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    I don't know of anybody (with the exception of this community) that has actually purchased a community game yet. I'll tell you why I think that is:

    1. Everyone is busy playing through the glut of AAA titles which are released this time of year. Not even arcade games get much of a look-in at the moment with my friends, or indeed myself (I was going to buy Banjoo-Kazooie on XBLA for old-times sake but it's just been released 6 weeks or so too late, I'll pick it up if I have some gaming slack later into next year perhaps). Never mind what has been bought out of novelty or interest because of the NXE being new. All that stuff about selling twice as much because it is there - come back with that after the next quarter when the novelty of the NXE has gone away[1], not that I can understand how someone can make such an unsubstantiated statement as "you're bound to sell more than twice as many copies", of course advertising is going to help but I don't think many people will buy a game just on advertising alone, if they did who would ever need to produce demos eh ;) I think the Microsoft model is a good thing though, I don't really see why people should have a problem with Microsoft taking a larger cut for a few weeks, especially if it does results in a nice bounce in sales. If XNA is easing you into the world of game writing then Microsoft is also easing you into the realities of marketing as well heh.

    2. No Gamerpoints. Not that anyone that I know takes gamerpoints that seriously but I know a couple of people who would probably be persuaded to part with cash if a game had points. I mean if that Dorito freebie can giveaway 200 points for pretty much turning your controller on as a bribe to be pummeled with advertising then microsoft are making a mockery of people that work long and hard to produce community content.

    3. The word community. It has a very negative connotation, people make some very broad assumptions about what they are going to find (the assumption being that it is all going to be c--p) even though it isn't justifiable because there is obviously some very good stuff out there, if you've been around to look at it of course. I would sooner it was marketed and badged as "Indie gaming" or somesuch, community is a word which feels dirty to start with. Liek community service.

    [1]Microsoft have worked hard and long at gaining serious traction in the gaming/console arena and there is no doubt whatsoever that they punched Sony right between their eyes, they made a believer in me and also my friends. Alas the NXE is an example of how to start dropping the ball. Look at Home on the PS3 - Sony had a chance at gaining some of their lost ground on the 360, but they still haven't got to grips with reality and are still letting the marketing team dictate what they should be doing next even though the PS3 is an unmitigated disaster for them. Home is a perfect example of marketing over content, because there simply isn't any content. Lucky for Microsoft really because the NXE isn't that much better, it is an advertising platform, and it's a very slow one at that and it's completely American-centric (OK I know that this is being addressed with a specific mangement structure and team being put in for Europe). NXE seems to have re-introduced the wireless adapter bug that I had back with my release day console in the UK so it makes me wonder what has gone wrong (where you need to pull the power cord out after 7 days or so as the console no longer detects the adapter), and it's very, very slow, and you can't really do anything of interest with the console unless you press the home button. Not to say that the delivery of advertising itself isn't ingenious as some of it is very clever in its own way but in the end it is still advertising and it's a layer above me and what I want to do, Eg, play games!

    On another note on dropping the ball is the XBL outages - I suffered for four days until the problem was finally fixed and not even a note in my inbox explaining that they had a problem. Why should I have to ferret out a log entry on Major Nelson's blog and email my IP address to try and get things fixed!

    And another thing, quality on the AAA titles is slipping as well. GoW2 has a couple of real biggies such as eating save-games, I mean it's elementary to save to a temp file and rename it and manage recovery of such to your last save point, and it's best not to even start to mention multiplayer and the fact it doesn't match on latency, not that Epic have ever had a good track-record with network coding.

    Sorry to go off-topic on the end, but the theme is quality and I just fear that Microsoft are not paying enough attention to quality at the moment, and this extends to their 'efforts' in the community gaming "experience" as well.

  • 12/21/2008 7:37 PM In reply to

    Re: Can you use XNA as a vible way to make money?

    jwatte:


    You already gave them consent when you submitted the game. It's part of the terms. You're free to not submit your game if you don't consent.



    I know this, and I agree, as I said it's there platform - there rules. Maybe I shouldn't have used the word consent, it tends to get people on the defensive, what I should have said was:

    Does this mean that microsoft can just put you on the front page (if thats what the extra promotion is) and charge you the extra (up to) 30%, without asking if you want the extra promotion?

    I was merely asking if that's the case, as I'm not clear on the issue.

    As for selling twice as many copies, you've no way of knowing this (if you do please share, as that would be good information for this thread). But you do raise a good point, if microsoft can charge up to 30% for promotion, then you may have to sell close to twice as many games as a result of that promotion, for the promotion to be worth it. But this is all speculative at the moment since microsoft haven't release any solid details on the promotion or it's rates. In the end it would be in microsoft's best interests to increase sales, and look after developers interests at the same time, so they get continued support for the platform. I don't see them trying to snatch profits in the way that I mentioned and I'm sure they'll give a fair rate, I was just raising the possibilty.
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