Don't miss
  • 2,232
  • 6,844
  • 6097
  • 134

Why having only 1,000 users is not a disaster for a game

By on September 1, 2010

I sometimes get companies saying to me words to the effect of: “We’ve just launched our game and it only has 1,000 users. It’s a DISASTER.”

And I say to them.: “It may be a disaster. It may not be. You just don’t know.”

In the old world, where units sold was the ONLY metric that mattered, 1,000 users was a disaster. Hell, in current times, 130,000 sales of a boxed product IS a disaster.

But in the new world of try-fail-iterate, it’s not an unimportant metric.

You need to change the question

The question is not “How many users have I got?”. It’s “What my conversion rate and ARPU?”

In other words if, of your 1,000 users, 20% of them are spending $25 a month with you, you’re laughing. You can buy customers far more cheaply than their lifetime value. Spend money on buying customers and you will snowball. Heck, I’ll sell my house and give you the money if you don’t have it. (For equity, of course)

If instead you have only 0.1% of those 1,000 users spending $1, you’re in real trouble. No marketing in the world will solve that problem.

And here’s the thing. This is a game design problem, not a game marketing problem. You are not retaining customers and you are not monetising them. Stop everything until you have fixed that core conversion or ARPU problem.

And thank the Lord that you only have 1,000 users who saw your initial failure.

Now go, iterate and launch again.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: