1 Year

We released The Signal State 1 year ago today!

“Graphics are the first thing finished in a video game”. Here’s how the game looked 1 year before release.

It’s sold really well. It’s been well received by its players.

We got some cool coverage from major press sites.

More coverage came from youtubers and streamers.

I did a podcast for the first time.

We got featured in our local paper.

A music school might use the game as a teaching tool!?

For our first commercial title, I think we did pretty well!

None of this would have been possible without some lovely people: Jason Siow, Matthew Quek, Haskel Chua, Tran Duong, Papernoise, mingzxc, Eugene Soh, Clément Blum, Patricia Teo, Jian Zhi, Kelsey, Cameron, indienova, playtesters, translators, and many others.

And of course, all the players.


In these 2 pages, the personified 19th and 20th centuries, represented by the distinct typography, debate their relative merits.

There is an idea from opera, the Gesamtkunstwerk, of an art form that is a synthesis of all other art forms. Opera was meant to be it though these days perhaps video games are the Gesamtkunstwerk.

A book seems almost the antithesis of that. Yet because of the medium’s relative minimalism, deconstructing and remixing the format of the medium, like Rian Hughes’ XX does here, ends up being more exciting sometimes.

Signal State Steam Summer Sale Stats

That’s a 6 word alliteration!

The Steam Summer Sale just concluded, so here’s another look at the sales stats for The Signal State:

We had our biggest discount of 30% for this sale, but it didn’t translate to a particularly large sales bump compared to prior discounts. I suspect there’s 2 reasons for this. The first is that 30% is a very minor increase to the previous discount of 25%, so buyers who would’ve bought at a 30% discount have likely already bought at a 25%.

The second reason is somewhat related to the first. This sale is pretty late into the game’s lifespan, and so the remaining wishlisters are only mildly interested in the game and we would require a much larger discount, maybe 50%+, to entice them into buying the game.

As the chart shows, the daily deal resulted in a much much larger sales bump than any sale event. The reason is obvious: the daily deal brings new visibility to your game, as only a small fraction of games are on sale during those 2 days and your game’s discount is exposed to all steam users. On the other hand, users are spoiled for choice during sales events, so the only users who become aware of your game’s discount are those who have already wishlisted. This results in a smaller pool of potential buyers.

One interesting sales event we don’t have any experience with yet is genre-specific sales events. Steam regularly holds sales events for specific genres of games, e.g the recent Simfest. We’re hoping to be involved with one later this year so the sales data from that should be quite interesting too!

The Leftification of Games

I finished playing Citizen Sleeper recently and a thought occurred to me.

Several years back the phrase ‘the daddification of games’ emerged to describe the trend of games with fatherhood as a primary theme. Telltale’s The Walking Dead, The Last of Us, Bioshock, etc.

It feels like we are seeing a ‘leftication of games’ with a trend of games with anti-capitalism as its primary theme. Disco Elysium, Outer Worlds, Night in The Woods, Citizen Sleeper, Hardspace: Shipbreaker, etc.

Both are trends emerging from the demographic of their designers. New dads for the former, working class western millenials for the latter.

This is more of an observation, but it does feel like the trend invites comparisons that result in the more inferior titles, e.g Outer Worlds, appearing even more inferior in retrospect.



Kinda interesting how A24 has built a brand/audience relationship more akin to that of a youtuber or twitch streamer, even though they’re a pretty major film studio. Now they even have a quasi-patreon membership thing. Makes sense since their films largely target millennials.

Within games, Annapurna Interactive could probably pull off something similar.

If you’re an indie game dev, trying to build a brand and audience relationship the way they do is probably going to be very helpful i think.

So you’ve launched your game on GOG

It’s been a month(ish) since the release of The Signal State on GOG, so it might be interesting to look at the sales data and compare it to our Steam sales data.

The total number of copies sold through GOG is approximately 1% of the total number of copies sold through Steam, with the vast majority of copies sold during the launch week in which we had a 20% launch discount.

This is a pretty absurdly low number! Data on GOG sales vs Steam sales is even harder to come by, and I’ve seen estimates for the GOG vs Steam sales ratio of anything from 2% – 15%. Ours is clearly on the very low end of this.

There are probably a variety of factors for this figure beyond Steam’s dominance. Our GOG launch was not simultaneous but came months after the Steam release. We did not promote the GOG launch particularly heavily. The lack of Steam Workshop support means the Puzzle Workshop in the GOG version of the game is clunkier in the way it works compared to the Steam version.

That lack of feature parity with Steam’s Steamworks backend services might in fact be the main deciding factor as to whether to release on GOG or not (assuming your game is notable enough for GOG to invite you to release it there). If your game relies on Steam’s backend infrastructure for anything more complex than leaderboards or achievements, you might find yourself having to find a whole variety of workarounds for GOG’s more suite of backend services.

Does your game use Steamworks for mod support, microtransactions, voice chat? If no, then a making a GOG build is probably quite easy. The GOG API for user authentication, leaderboards, etc. is pretty easy to implement. But if you need anything more advanced, you’re gonna have to find alternative solutions for your GOG build.

And if you’re not going to make much money off of the GOG release, is the time and effort even financially worth it?

So your game is Steam’s Daily Deal: Conclusion

The Signal State’s daily deal promo will be over soon, and the sales from that have actually exceeded my expectations.

With the exception of release day, the daily deal has resulted in the highest single day sales ever, with nearly 14% of all copies sold having occurred during this promo, nearly exceeding the copies sold during the winter sale (and it might exceed it by the end of the promo).

That said, there are other additional factors involved of course other than the visibility from being part of the Daily Deal. This deal is for 25% off, our highest discount so far. This also follows the release of our Puzzle Workshop, which is visibly promoted in the artwork shown on Steam’s frontpage.

So your game is Steam’s Daily Deal

Its been a few hours into our Steam Daily Deal promo, here’s what the sales figures look like:

Getting onto the Daily Deal requires manual selection by the Steam team, which probably involves some invisible metrics your game must fulfill. Given its short promo time its probably not going to be as lucrative as say the winter sale, but its very nice nevertheless.

So your game is discounted during the Winter Sale

The wishlist-to-sales ratio can be wildly different from game to game, with anything from less than 0.1 sales per wishlist to more than 1 sale per wishlist.

If your game ends up with a lower ratio than the widely publicized statistical average, it could potentially be quite disheartening, but it need not necessarily be. After all, a wishlist is an indication of some interest, and these wishlists usually bear fruit during Steam sales.

Copies Sold before and during the Steam Winter Sale

For The Signal State, the average number of copies sold per day during the Winter Sale was 6 times that of the daily average in the month prior. 17% of the total number of copies sold were bought during the sale, accounting for about 14% of our total revenue.

Its also worth noting that people will still wishlist your game during these sales, adding in more potential buyers for future sales. Our daily wishlists remained roughly the same through the sale.

Other stats like our positive reviews percentage, percentage of buyers on Mac/Linux, percentage of refunds remained mostly unchanged.

So your game has been out for a month

Its been slightly more than a month since release, so it might be useful to look at how The Signal State has done.

Our reviews stand at 92% positive right now. This ratio stayed pretty stable after 2 weeks or so from release.

Our refund rate is at about 5.6%, a slight increase from the rate after 1 week, which makes sense as players who buy later are players who may be less passionate about this kind of game, but I’m still pretty happy with this rate. As mentioned before, the average refund rate is about 5-8%, which puts us on the lower end of the range.

Our wishlist to sales ratio is now at about 18%, and a conversion rate (users who first wishlisted then eventually purchased) of about 7%, a slight increase from ratios at the 1 week point.

The current number of copies sold is about 47% higher then the number of copies sold after 1 week. This is pretty much in line with expectations from existing data from other games.

If you consider the current profits and the publisher advance (minus external expenses like freelancers), this game has earned enough to sustain at least 1 full-time developer for at least a year, possibly longer once we see the revenues from future sales!

P.S we just released an update that adds some requested UI improvements please buy my game and givememoneythankyouverymuch