A few weeks ago, we tried something new. We gave Lugaru away 100% for free in a holiday promotion. It was only covered by a few big sites, the largest two being the awesome TIGSource and IndieGames Blog. Initially we were disappointed by the lack of coverage but this quickly disappeared as it was passed around the internet like crazy in a big game of telephone. I definitely saw many posts about the following games:
And, my favorite, Free Lugaria!
We distributed free Lugaru to over 10,000 people! Additionally, we partnered with our friends at MacHeist and were given the opportunity to be part of their Mac Giving Tree, which doubled that number to about 20,000 (we were the secret referral app). It's insane because we were tracking our own free Lugaru results gradually organically spreading throughout the world on Google Analytics, and then BAM, MacHeist has the power to outperform us in one fell swoop. All the more reason to support Mac OS X.
Free Game = More Sales
What's most interesting is that while Lugaru was free, sales were up! Yes... by making Lugaru free, we sold more copies than we usually do. Additionally, another forward thinking indie, Pocketwatch Games, had a similar promotion and experienced strikingly similar results with his Venture Arctic holiday giveaway.
This has huge implications for indie game developers.
It's much more complicated than this, but for the very small indies, this promotion makes a lot of sense. So few people know about your games, that the influx of new people is enough to boost your meager sales. Basically, it takes a very, very small amount of those 20,000 people to feel incredibly generous and buy a copy of Lugaru to shatter our extremely modest trickle of regular Lugaru sales. I am not sure what the long term implications are of this find, but in the short term, I suspect we are going to be seeing a ton of "Free (insert indie game here) !" pop up really soon and we will all be happy.
In addition to this bizarre economic realization, we accomplished our #1 goal: make people aware of Overgrowth. Not a lot of people know this, but Lugaru was created 100% by David Rosen when he was in high school as a hobbyist project. The goal was to show Lugaru to as many people as possible and then explain to them how much awesomer Overgrowth is going to be. Hopefully a lot of the new guys stick around and follow our progress on this blog!
Feel free to introduce yourself in the comments. :)