I know a lot of companies don't release sales figures, so I thought someone might find it useful if I put some out there. Keep in mind, PowerFrame is a first-release title from an unknown author, with no Kickstarter fanfare and limited social media reach, so the figures are no doubt modest. But if you're looking at releasing your first game you might be in the same boat, and might like to have some idea what you could expect.
I did do a bit of promotional ground-work, posting art as I finished it off and discussing aspects of the system on the blog. I also released the free PowerFrame Primer about a month before the Core Rulebook, which not only let people see whether the system interested them but also gave me a way to contact a self-selected audience once the Core Rulebook came out.
The initial Core Rulebook release was PDF-only, $10 for a 240 page book. Initial sales were good; I would have been happy with 10 sales in the first week, but I ended with 16 in the first day. I sold 44 copies in June 2015 (21 days), and hit 50 not long after, reaching Copper Best Seller.
In August 2015, I released a print-on-demand version for $29.99. This helped boost sales figures a bit, as people who were waiting for a hardcopy started coming on board.
In October I released the Spell Companion supplement, which again helped buoy sales of the Core Rulebook a little. After reaching 100 units though, things began to plateau, with zero to two sales per month. There was a spike in December when Games on Board, a game store in my local area, bought several print copies.
In February 2016 I offered a $5 discount on both PDF and Print, and once more began to move copies – mostly PDFs, but the odd book as well. I finally reached 125 units sold, and the Core Rulebook became a Silver Best Seller!
In May I released the Fantasy Races supplement, which once again seems to have spiked sales in the Core Rulebook and other products.
Now, a year after the initial release, I have sold 151 copies of the Core Rulebook, 22 of which (15%) were print books. Of the profit earned (somewhere just under $800), around 60% has been from PDF sales and 40% from print sales. I can attribute most of the recent sales to the price drop, but at the same time many of those customers also picked up the supplements. I'm not sure if I should end the discount once I have another supplement or two out there, or if I should keep it low as an incentive to buy lots of associated product!
If there's one thing I can say for certain, it's that people love free stuff! The Primer saw over 200 downloads in the first month, and has over 600 downloads to date. That's a conversion rate of nearly 25% into sales of the Core Rulebook (although I'm sure some people don't bother downloading the Primer before making their purchase). I think the Primer really helps people to make an informed decision whether to buy the game or not.
Squexagons & Hexes Within Hexes
I released the Squexagons blank map pack in May 2014, while I was still working on PowerFrame, to test the waters at DTRPG and see what was involved with setting up a title. It has been a very slow seller, with 11 sales in the first month and an overall average around one sale per month (34 sales to date).
A year later, I released the Hexes Within Hexes blank map pack, which has shown almost identical sales figures to Squexagons. Both still get occasional sales, but they are never going to hit the big times.
I am considering making some hex map terrain packs, with tile-able and rotatable scenery designed to print on A4/Letter paper, to see whether they do any better than blank grids. I think it's worth an experiment; there's a lot of competition out there, but there's also bound to be a lot of demand for new and different scenery.
I released the Spell Companion in October 2015. Initially it followed the same sales graph as the blank map packs, so I was discouraged and didn't think it was worth putting work into more supplements. However, the sales graph really picked up once I offered the discount on the Core Rulebook, and it overtook the long-selling Squexagons in April this year. It's currently my second-biggest seller and revenue earner, and with 46 sales it's very close to earning its own Copper Best Seller badge!
I'd been working on the Fantasy Races supplement when the Spell Companion came out, but shelved it until I noticed the improved sales. I finished off the art and released it in May 2016. It had an immediate sales surge, outperforming all of my other small releases to date. It's still accumulating first-month sales, but in its first three weeks it's already sold more copies than any other supplement has in the first month.
I can only speculate that either Fantasy Races is the sort of supplement people want to see, or else it's a natural and cumulative benefit of my expanding audience. Either way, it's encouraged me to start working on more supplements. I don't really want to get stuck on a "supplement treadmill", but it's worthwhile to work on them when I don't have any freelance jobs on, and in-between working on my new games.
Currently I'm putting the finishing touches (and art) on Pieces of Six, a massed battle supplement that lets you use regular PowerFrame character write-ups. I'm also outlining and chipping away at content for Modern Creatures, Gothic Races, and Mecha Files. I am also thinking of releasing a scenario, or small city setting/situation pack for people to drop into their games, or maybe even working on a full-fledged setting sourcebook. I have a wealth of material from the past twenty years of PowerFrame campaigns, although most of it will need to be dusted off and given a critical eye in the light of modern system revisions.
Thanks for your interest and support in the past year! I hope you'll stick around and keep an eye on what I'm up to in the years ahead.