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Gaming Them's Fightin' Herds is a Flop

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As I write this post, Them's Fightin' Herds has been on sale (in Early Access mind you, when it was promised to be "released" by now) for a few weeks and during that time we have not been given sales numbers, the game never made it into Steam's top 10 sellers at any point, and we now have some Steamchart data to utilize to gauge if this game was a success or a big stinking flop, and after reviewing the data... It's a flop. I called it over 2 years ago in a video and everyone bitched me out and got all kinds of upset and triggered, but I ended up being right, sorry. Lauren Faust has no presence in the game industry, and making a game just to circumvent copyright is hard to pull off well in the first place. TFH was marketed more or less to bronies and by the time it came out, most didn't care anymore.

I know some fanboys who are holding out hope will try and naysay, but it's time to accept the reality: the dream is dead. This team was biting off more than they could chew and this game stood no chance of reaching the success necessary to be a market success:

http://steamcharts.com/app/574980

The game is struggling to keep over 60 players online at a time. It also while up from last month is not even peaking 200 players average daily. That means of the 10,000 copies they were FORCED to give away FOR FREE as part of the IndieGoGo campaign, not even 10% of them are playing the game daily... Only a few weeks after release. Their all-time peak player count is only 1,396 when they GAVE AWAY 10,000 copies. They can't even get 20% of them to play at one time. These are not good numbers for a game that had almost $600,000 spent on it.

Look at Undertale: funded on less than 1/10 of the budget and at the time of writing this has literally 10x the amount of players as TFH on Steam.

Even Rivals of Aether has better stats and that's a game that I'm sure many people here have never heard of.

 

MAYBE leaving early access could boon the game into some success, but honestly as it currently stands the fact that these numbers are so low for a game where 10,000+ people got a copy for free... points to a flop.

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You seem to be awfully cheery about this.

It sold reasonably well, at around 30k owners as reported on SteamSpy, even if we subtract the 10k free copies, that's still going to be around 20k sold. Because of the regional prices and sales on other platforms we can't straight up say how much it really made, but that's not all that bad. And, at one point in time it was #3 trending game in early access.

Undertale comparison is ludicrous. It's fun to do I guess, but not every game can be a unicorn like that. There are AAA titles that did _much_ worse than that (in terms of sold units).

So the factual reality is that the game exists, it's fun to play for me and even if it doesn't account to much in terms of sales, it continue to exist and bring joy to this world.

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I don’t really care if it’s a flop, it’s a still a blast to play.

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(edited)
9 minutes ago, LunarWave said:

You seem to be awfully cheery about this.

 

Forgive my enthusiasm but when I made a video that was actually not that "mean" or anything about it but just looked at the issue objectively and stated why I felt it was not going to do well, I got bombarded with hate, threats and people calling me a faggot. So forgive me if when I ended up being right in the end it's a little bitter sweet.

9 minutes ago, LunarWave said:

It sold reasonably well, at around 30k owners as reported on SteamSpy, even if we subtract the 10k free copies, that's still going to be around 20k sold. Because of the regional prices and sales on other platforms we can't straight up say how much it really made, but that's not all that bad. And, at one point in time it was #3 trending game in early access.

The game will need to sell over 50-60K units to make a SMALL profit given the budget and price of the game. That's not even assuming the game overspent the budget.

Also #3 trending in early access isn't much of an accomplishment in today's day and age where people are avoiding early access like the plague. Also trending does not mean sales. 20k units sold is far from a "success". Especially over a month after release, it's pathetic because it means in a month the game still hasn't made a profit more than likely.

9 minutes ago, LunarWave said:

Undertale comparison is ludicrous.

Thus why I also used Rivals of Aether to back up my point.

9 minutes ago, LunarWave said:

So the factual reality is that the game exists, it's fun to play for me and even if it doesn't account to much in terms of sales, it continue to exist and bring joy to this world.

Okay? I wasn't saying the game was not fun for you or that you should not like it. I am merely stating the facts and the facts point more toward it being a market failure. Sorry but the facts are there, and the evidence is pretty concrete in this case. 20k sales is not a success by any means for a game that had an almost $600,000 budget. Even if we assumed everyone OVERPAID for the game and say $20 instead of the $15 asking price, that's only $40,000 in sales. That's nothing. Hell let's high ball it an say everyone double paid and paid the equivalent of $30 a copy, that's still only around 10% of the budget.

You can like something and still admit it's a market failure. Attempting to argue against it at this point is kind of a straw grabbing attempt.

 

Honestly, my take is: it NEEDED to flop. Lauren Faust kind of needed the reality check.

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I wouldn’t call it a flop, but I will say that I lost interest after the original Fighting Is Magic got C&D’d. I might still buy it, though.

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5 minutes ago, Key Sharkz said:

snip

It had budget, and we got a game. Project is a success as far as I'm concerned. You might be forgetting that 2/3 of projects don't even make it that far.

Market-wise, an early launch went quite well in my opinion. Very few games even reach those sales, and in current Steam conditions, that's a pretty good place to be in. If they play their cards right, it might rise to the top when it gets an official release.

Also, your estimates are off by a factor of 10. They made around 300k at the current state + what money they got from the campaign. Might not cover everything but not "nothing".

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(edited)
37 minutes ago, Rhythm Red said:

I wouldn’t call it a flop, but I will say that I lost interest after the original Fighting Is Magic got C&D’d. I might still buy it, though.

Flop meaning it didn't return on the investment.

25 minutes ago, LunarWave said:

It had budget, and we got a game. Project is a success as far as I'm concerned. You might be forgetting that 2/3 of projects don't even make it that far.

Market-wise, an early launch went quite well in my opinion. Very few games even reach those sales, and in current Steam conditions, that's a pretty good place to be in. If they play their cards right, it might rise to the top when it gets an official release.

Also, your estimates are off by a factor of 10. They made around 300k at the current state + what money they got from the campaign. Might not cover everything but not "nothing".

How do you figure that? 20,000 units a month after launch is far from successful even for a lot of indie titles. Also, it already HAD its official release, the team just decided to go early access at the last minute without prefacing that it was early access. Sorry but the trailers leading up to the release never mentioned early access, then when it comes out it's early access.

Ah yes, my math was off, my apologies.

Still, 300k is still not even half the budget for the game. What they made off of the campaign was to pay for making the game. Meaning none of that is profit, they still have to sell twice as many as they have already sold just to break even more or less, that's after a month after release too, that's not a good spot to be in since most games the popularity fades as time passes. Initial sales period is often your biggest sale window for any game.

Nothing = Not making more than what it cost to make. If I take out $600,000, I am now -$600,000. If I make $300,000 then I am still at -$300,000 so yes, I am at nothing. I still have not reached 0 or even $1.

Most games have made a profit after a month, being only halfway to making the budget back at this point is not good. Also, that's being GENEROUS and assuming they didn't overspend or had other expenses. Remember some of the 20,000 copies we estimate sold were probably sent out to reviewers or publications, we're being GENEROUS and the game has hardly made back half its budget in a month.

Even if it makes $610,000, that's a MEAGER profit. A "good" investment generally returns double what it cost to make it, AKA a 100% profit. When you put this in a portfolio to get jobs at other game companies they are not going to see a $50,000 profit on a game that cost almost $600,000 as "good". They're going to see it as you got lucky that you even made any money at all. Businesses need to make money to survive. If Mane6 want to continue as developers they need to make a SUBSTANTIAL profit otherwise supporting the game will become impossible. If they don't make enough money, future development will cease. You know Faust and Strong are not doing this as a charity, if they are not getting paid, they pull out. That means Faust won't be around to design new characters and that puts a huge wrench in one of their main selling points. The game does poorly, no new content and no new games. They can't just go to crowdfunding to make all their games so if they want to continue as developers they need to make back not only enough money to pay off the budget but pay their employees AND have enough left over to develop another game or make more content for this game.

Sorry, but liking the game doesn't make it a "success".

I get it, you like the game, but try to look objectively here. These numbers are far from good. Living in denial doesn't help the game.

If people admitted the problems I'm addressing here they may be able to take the message to Mane6 to do something about it before it's too late.

There is still time to turn this around, plenty of it in fact! A couple of ideas that could save this game:

 

  1. Get serious about advertising. Take the hit and hire a marketing team. This game needs to be marketed, there is an audience for it, but clearly not enough people know about the game. Advertising it on YT and social media alone clearly isn't enough especially if the people doing it are not experts on how to hit those trending statuses.
  2. Be FAR more straightforward a LOT sooner from here on out. The fact that the story mode was delayed only like a few weeks from release was a bad idea. Also boasting the release date and then releasing in early access was a bad idea. Plain and simple. No one can argue that saying the game was releasing and then when it came out it came out in early access was a good idea and if you think you can, you're clearly just being a fanboy.
  3. Stop focusing on celebrity talent. Why did we NEED Tara Strong as a voice actor in an indie game? It just screams of trying to get that celebrity endorsement.
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@Key Sharkz I disagree, personally, as I think the game is doing reasonably well at the moment (though it could be doing better). As time goes on, I’m sure sales will increase, as well. There’s plenty of time for the game to return on its investment. 

I may end up buying it myself out of curiosity, and to support Mane6, though the lack of MLP in the game is a problem for me.

Still, I respect your opinion.:)

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Just now, Rhythm Red said:

@Key Sharkz I disagree, personally, as I think the game is doing reasonably well at the moment (though it could be doing better). As time goes on, I’m sure sales will increase, as well. There’s plenty of time for the game to return on its investment. 

I may end up buying it myself out of curiosity, and to support Mane6, though the lack of MLP in the game is a problem for me.

Still, I respect your opinion.:)

We're not talking about personal tastes. We're talking about financially.

Right now the game has failed to make a profit. A month after release, this is a bad thing. It's rare for games to suddenly become profitable if they do not become profitable in the first month. It CAN happen, but it's rare. That's my point. My point is the game is not doing well enough to where the team behind it will be able to support it for very long if sales don't pick up quickly. You can't develop patches and new content on a budget of $0, so it needs to start making a lot more money.

People need to take their personal tastes and their love of the game and put it in a box and close that box for the moment and look at the numbers and think objectively. The game is not selling, that can not be denied. It's got less active players than even games no one has heard of like Rivals of Aether. Like this is a problem, trying to avoid admitting it's a problem is how you live in denial and just let the problem get worse.

I mean we can wait 6 months and see if things change, but as it stands right now the game is not on track to do well.

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I don't see how campaign doesn't add up to to the budget calculations. Copies were sold, not given away for free. Money were flowing from users to the studio, so it must be taken in consideration.

I don't know their actual finances, and until they release some official statement regarding that, or their budget numbers, all this is just a speculation based on the limited info we have.

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2 minutes ago, LunarWave said:

I don't see how campaign doesn't add up to to the budget calculations. Copies were sold, not given away for free. Money were flowing from users to the studio, so it must be taken in consideration.

I don't know their actual finances, and until they release some official statement regarding that, or their budget numbers, all this is just a speculation based on the limited info we have.

We know the game raised almost $600,000 to produce. You DO realize that they are OBLIGATED to spend that on the production of the game right? Otherwise, that is fraud. The money was given to make the game, not as profit. So their budget is not part of their profits. The 10,000 copies they had to give away as backer rewards are not profit because they were not sold.

We know they sold around 20,000 copies at the price of around $15-20 a piece. So by those numbers we have not made more than the original budget. Seems pretty cut and dry to me. What exactly am I missing that somehow makes another $300,000 appear? Remember making $610,000 is hardly "profitable" it's just making a $10,000 profit so to speak.

So let's say for the sake of argument that the team considered $100,000 of profit "good", so they still need $400,000 from my estimates.

I don't see how you can cling to any excuse you can to dismiss admitting the reality of the situation. I get that you like the game, but is denying that it's not doing well going to help it? I mean we clearly know enough to say within REASONABLE doubt that the game is not doing well. Yes we don't know "specifics" but I find it hard to believe the estimates are off SO much that $400,000 is just not accounted for.

Like come on man, meet me half way here: admit that despite you enjoying the game, it needs to do a lot better to make back its money. These numbers are NOT good. Most games make back their budget in the first month. Hell most do in the first WEEK.

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You're missing that they didn't exactly had to give that budget back to anyone. The copies were sold for money. People didn't give them money as charity, or investment, they got something they valued in return.They are not obliged to spend it all on production, and part of any crowdfunding budget goes to fulfill the backers' rewards. What they are obliged to do is to deliver on the campaign promises, and refund people if they have a problem (and even that is not that straightforward).  Distribution costs of the game are basically free, so they made quite a lot just selling copies and perks that would mostly use a few hours of teams' time, not their financial resources.

If they didn't go over the budget, they already made it back.

If they did go over their budget (which might as well be the case), I want to know exact numbers before knowing how much they made and how commercially successful it was. If they spent twice the budget, then your comments are on-point, if less than 50%, they're in black already. 

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6 minutes ago, LunarWave said:

You're missing that they didn't exactly had to give that budget back to anyone. The copies were sold for money. People didn't give them money as charity, or investment, they got something they valued in return.They are not obliged to spend it all on production, and part of any crowdfunding budget goes to fulfill the backers' rewards.

... You are not understanding how economics works...

If you give me money to MAKE a product and I give you the product, I haven't made a profit, I broke even... The money you gave me to make the product was used to make the product. Therefore I have not made a profit yet...

They actually are obligated to spend the ENTIRE budget on the production of the game, including distribution, advertisement, etc. It's called legally obligated. If you are given $500 to make something and it only takes $250 after it's all said and done, you can not pocket the remaining $250, that's called fraud. That isn't what the contract was stating needed to happen. ANY money they got on crowdfunding needed to go toward making the game and covering costs such as backer rewards NOT PROFIT. That is literally a legal issue. They are OBLIGATED to not make a profit from ANY of the funding the game received, all profit MUST come from sales after the fact otherwise it's fraud and when they get audited they may get in serious trouble if that were the case.

10 minutes ago, LunarWave said:

What they are obliged to do is to deliver on the campaign promises, and refund people if they have a problem (and even that is not that straightforward).

That is not 100% true. You are obligated to not pocket any of the funding, period. It's against the law.

10 minutes ago, LunarWave said:

Distribution costs of the game are basically free, so they made quite a lot just selling copies and perks that would mostly use a few hours of teams' time, not their financial resources.

That is 100% untrue.

The distribution comes at a cost. You think Humble Bundle (which is owned by IGN) are publishing the game out of charity? They are getting a cut. Meaning of the sales, a percentage goes back to them, so that even makes the $300,000 that currently is made even SMALLER. Also Steam gets a cut too. Do you think Valve is running a charity?

Your knowledge of this industry is clearly not very much, sorry. Not trying to be insulting, but you're kind of coming off as a fanboy because you're ignoring pretty basic stuff to try and claim the game is not actually doing that bad.

13 minutes ago, LunarWave said:

f they didn't go over the budget, they already made it back.

Very very very few crowdfunding games ever go under the budget. In fact most go over the budget. Even if they somehow went under the budget, they didn't make it back, because what ever is left over is not profit, it's money for future development. They are NOT allowed to pocket that money, period.

14 minutes ago, LunarWave said:

If they did go over their budget (which might as well be the case), I want to know exact numbers before knowing how much they made and how commercially successful it was. If they spent twice the budget, then your comments are on-point, if less than 50%, they're in black already. 

They are most definitely in the red based upon everything I've just explained. When you factor in IGN and Steam getting a cut, it makes the amount made even smaller. Then you factor in their legal obligation to spend the budget on the game's production and nothing else, then yeah they have not made a profit and I am completely on point unless the team is breaking the law.

No doubt in my mind that Tara Strong and Faust's inclusion alone definitely pushed the budget to either the end of the budget or past it. These people are not working for free, plain and simple. They also WILL jump ship if the game doesn't make enough money. If Faust bails, then you don't get any DLC characters designed by her, and they lose one of their only major selling points of being Faust's work. That will SERIOUSLY harm the sales more.

I think it's pretty clear that RIGHT NOW AT LEAST the game is not doing well.

It can change. As I said before, they CAN turn this around, but it will take a lot of effort.

Also worth pointing out: Steam takes 30% of all proceeds. So that means of the $300,000 we estimate they made... Valve gets around $100,000 of it...

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Steam and HB do take a cut. But it's a cost that comes after you sold a copy, not before. Unless they based their price point on some magical guesswork, they know what they're getting.

As for the rest of the message.. Yeah, until I see the sources for all those claims, I'm gonna ignore it. Show me at least estimated production costs, celebrity commissions, some financial data and then we can clearly see whether it's a flop.

Right now, all the data I got points me to that they're doing alright, so I guess thank you for making me dig that up.

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(edited)
24 minutes ago, LunarWave said:

Steam and HB do take a cut. But it's a cost that comes after you sold a copy, not before. Unless they based their price point on some magical guesswork, they know what they're getting.

As for the rest of the message.. Yeah, until I see the sources for all those claims, I'm gonna ignore it. Show me at least estimated production costs, celebrity commissions, some financial data and then we can clearly see whether it's a flop.

Right now, all the data I got points me to that they're doing alright, so I guess thank you for making me dig that up.

... What?

You clearly do not understand anything about economics or game production and sales. Yeah, sorry but you're being a fanboy right now. You're basically demanding a tremendous amount of evidence when what is already presented is already plenty of an indicator before you'll admit you're wrong. Basically we call this demanding evidence to the nth degree. No amount of evidence will be good enough for you...

I have broken down the numbers in detail and that's not enough for you. I mean hell the fact that right now only 60 people are playing the game ALONE should be a PRETTY GOOD INDICATOR. But no, your fanboy won't allow you to accept that.

It's clear that you can not separate your like from the game from the reality of its current sales and costs.

It's clear that no amount of explaining how money, economics and sales work to you will be sufficient because you refuse to accept how these things actually work. So I don't even see a point in trying to explain it to your further because I have already explained it quite well and you have no created any logical counterpoint. Instead you just keep demanding no evidence while providing none to the contrary. This is all very simple stuff, but feel free to continue to deny so months from now when more comes out that proves I am right, I can laugh about it.

If you actually consider 60 people at one time playing a game on Steam as a success, then I don't think any amount of evidence will satisfy you because you clearly live outside of reality and have so little understanding of the industry and how selling and economics work that it would take more time than I have to dedicate to explain it to you.

Hell: http://steamcharts.com/app/447530

More people are playing VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action right now than TFH and that game came out almost 2 years ago. It was made on a smaller budget and had no celebrity endorsement, and had almost no advertising campaign.

If that isn't enough to convince you, then clearly nothing will be.

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Well, maybe it's going to be a flop due to not seeing any real effort to advertise the game, but I think it's still too early to get to that conclusion 

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Who out there is prepared to say that any of the following was a good idea:

  • Banking the entire game on Lauren Faust who has no presence in the game industry.
  • Getting celebrity voice actresses like Tara Strong when there was basically NO ADVERTISEMENT FOR THIS GAME WHATSOEVER OUTSIDE OF SOCIAL MEDIA.
  • Not trying to target the furry fandom for this game which it obviously would appeal to.
  • Saying the game would release in February and then delaying the story mode only a WEEK before the release.
  • "Releasing" under early access without ever hinting that was the plan.
  • Being late to the release in general, and then when you do release it's in early access.
  • Focusing entirely on the brony community even though the game has no MLP in it and many bronies expressed their interest fell after MLP was removed from the game, instead of refocusing on other audiences (such as furries) that would buy the game on its own merits?
  • Not hiring a marketing team.

Like who out there can honestly say that any of that was a good idea?

2 minutes ago, Steve Piranha said:

Well, maybe it's going to be a flop due to not seeing any real effort to advertise the game, but I think it's still too early to get to that conclusion 

Currently it is a failure, it CAN turn around, but it will require a huge change in how things are being done and a lot of effort.

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well i for one didnt really expect it to do well or become big and i thought anyone else wouldnt either. And to be honest i think the game is doing pretty well considering the fact that it is kinda unknown game and all that 

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1 minute ago, Barique said:

I think everyone here should calm the f*** down. Seriously, everyone's trying to derail the thread (which was already derailed to start with) and acting like toddlers.

Aye. Let this be a reminder: debate the point, NOT the person. We're edging closer to going totally off-topic by doing so. Please keep that in mind everyone.

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I don't understand how this is a surprise to some people. It's a MLP game without MLP. Who's going to buy that?

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1 minute ago, Gestum said:

I don't understand how this is a surprise to some people. It's a MLP game without MLP. Who's going to buy that?

Precisely. Thus why I am shocked at all the denial leading up to its release and now even after its release.

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Just now, Gestum said:

I don't understand how this is a surprise to some people. It's a MLP game without MLP. Who's going to buy that?

Excellently put. Brony haters won’t buy it because it’s made by bronies, and lots of bronies won’t buy it because it’s not MLP. Who’s the true audience? Bronies? Regular people? :ooh:

That actually may have a pretty negative impact on sales. You gotta have a specific audience in mind.

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Locking for now; thanks for ignoring the message guys!

All right, in the name of Velvet & Oleander PLEASE listen:

I don't like having to hide posts that actually do have legitimate points, but I have little choice when they contain insults directed at another poster. That said, posts dedicated solely to attacking or insulting another have no place here and need to be dealt with, so I ask with calmness and clarity that we debate the POINT, NOT the POSTER.

Seriously, the OP has a legitimate point, but I see that both sides are at fault here. If you find something objectionable, report it AND move on. Pay attention to the point; not the poster. We on staff will deal with anything that crosses the line and breaks our cardinal rule.

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Oh well.

The game's fun to play, gameplay's fun and I have fun playing it with friends, so I really don't care if it's a big success. Work was put into it, they came out with a good product. I don't judge games based on success, but it almost seems like this thread is acting like because the game wasn't/isn't successful it isn't good.

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4 minutes ago, VoltWrecker said:

Oh well.

The game's fun to play, gameplay's fun and I have fun playing it with friends, so I really don't care if it's a big success. Work was put into it, they came out with a good product. I don't judge games based on success, but it almost seems like this thread is acting like because the game wasn't/isn't successful it isn't good.

A game being a market success leads to more content, more support and more people to play with. That's why this thread was made, because the future of the game and the ability to find people to play with or new content rides on its market success.

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