No More Robots' Mike Rose has revealed that only 1% of Let's Build a Zoo sales came from the Epic Games Store and that there were several issues with the game's launch on Steam.
Let's Build a Zoo is a new game from No More Robots, a game developer that has quite a healthy catalog -- so much so that it brought in $12 million last year despite having released no new games. This new addition to the No More Robots roster has proven to be a strong success, but its launch had a surprising number of challenges for the experienced indie developer.
No More Robots Explains the Challenges of Digital Distribution
Mike Rose is a numbers guy and he likes to share stats; for example, he highlighted how a loophole allowed some devs to boost their ranking on the Nintendo eShop. (Nintendo closed this loophole a month later.) His commentary on Let's Build a Zoo sales noted that only 1% of them came from the Epic Games Store, and he also explained why his company eschewed launching on GOG this time around.
[...] the hassle and work of updating stores outside of Steam, can sometimes literally cost more to handle than the actual sales that come from that store[.] - No More Robots' Mike Rose
"If I'm truly honest, no PC store outside of Steam has *ever* been worth maintaining for us," Rose said on Twitter. "That's why we've ended up dropping a lot of them (eg GOG) over the years -- the hassle of having to continue to provide them with updates, with sales inevitably circle the drain, is eugh[.]"
"Imagine a store making 1% of sales, and your game has been out for a while, so sales have gotten slower. By that point, the hassle and work of updating stores outside of Steam, can sometimes literally cost more to handle than the actual sales that come from that store[,]" he added in response to someone asking why the game was not on GOG.
It should be noted, however, that the low number of Epic Games Store sales is not necessarily an ironclad indication of the popularity difference between that store and Steam. As one person pointed out on Twitter, the official Let's Build a Zoo website doesn't even mention that an Epic Games Store version is available.
Although Steam had the lion's share of sales, the launch of the game was not without its problems on that platform despite being one of the most popular storefronts for buying PC, Mac, and Linux games -- and it's not the first time this has happened, either.
"Right after launch, we started to get dozens of reports that people were trying to buy the game, but Steam payments were failing. We received around 50ish reports, so it was prob affecting 100s of people[,]" Rose continued.
The severity of this problem was compounded by an inability to access the Let's Build a Zoo sales data at all for the first 9 hours of launch -- a problem that has some of the other No More Robots devs very concerned. Worse of all, this is the second time that Steam has failed at a critical moment for the company; Rose noted that Steam happened to stop working the very moment it announced Heist Simulator; Rose estimates that the game lost out on roughly 2 hours worth of Steam wishlists.
Let's Build a Zoo Sales on Track to Make $700K in First Month
Although the Steam launch was a bit shaky, there's still some pretty great news about Let's Build a Zoo sales -- Rose estimates that it's on track to make $1.5 million in its first year.
"According to current numbers that are floating around the orifices of the Game Dev Internet, it's likely we'll now see roughly $700k in PC revenue in month one, and $1.5m in year 1," Rose explained in a tweet. "With the plans we have for future updates + the high user rating, I feel confident we'll hit that!"
Mike Rose also took the time to highlight an interesting fact: while the U.S. was the lead for the sales as usual, China was #2 and Thailand was #3. The number of sales in Thailand wasn't a huge surprise to Mike Rose -- nearly 20% of the pre-launch Wishlists (totaling around 12,000) were from Thailand -- he had expected that the game would have had broader appeal on launch from German players.
It certainly looks like Let's Build a Zoo is going to be another success for No More Robots. You can buy Let's Build a Zoo on Steam and on the Epic Games Store for $19.99 or your regional equivalent; be sure to check out our Let's Build a Zoo Beginner's Guide to learn some cool tips and tricks!
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What do you think of the Let's Build a Zoo sales? Do you think the Epic Games Store, GOG, and other PC storefronts will be able to grow in market share? Let us know in the comments below!