Ron Carmel on World of Goo

Ron Carmel on World of Goo

World of Goo sits fondly in my mind as one of the best indie games, nay, one of the best games I have ever played. Developers Ron Carmel and Kyle Gabler deserve applause for putting so much character in those little balls of Goo. With the recent release of the iPad and iPod/iPhone versions of the title I thought it was the perfect chance to catch up with Ron on how things are going for 2D Boy and World of Goo.

The Reticule – You have released World of Goo across various platforms ranging from the desktop to the console and most recently on the iPad, iPod and iPhone, which platform was easiest to develop for?

Ron Carmel – PC was by far the easiest platform to develop for. First class development tools, very low cost, tons of distribution options, and lots of CPU power so performance is much less of an issue. Consoles are by far the hardest with all the technical requirements, contract negotiation, red tape, expensive QA, and often extra crap they require you to make, like poopyhats for avatars that nobody cares about. iOS is a close second to PC in terms of ease of development and distribution on that platform is a lot easier than on PC. The problem with it being so easy is that everyone and their brother is developing an iOS app so it’s often very difficult to get your app noticed. Same problem on PC though.

TR – Where have you seen the best sales in pure units sold and in $ revenue?

Ron Carmel – For a long time 55% of our revenue came from WiiWare and 45% from PC (Win/Mac/Linux), but PC seems to have a fatter long-tail than WiiWare. The iPad version is doing REALLY well so far and is by far the fastest selling version. Right now, three months after the launch of the iPad version, 42% of lifetime revenue is from WiiWare, 43% from PC, and 15% from iOS. We expect the relative share of iOS to keep growing, especially now that the iPhone version was just released.

TR – You have recently talked about the importance of getting World of Goo featured on the App Store for the iPad release, across the various platforms, what has been the most effective form of marketing and publicizing for World of Goo?

Ron Carmel – The best thing any developer can do to publicizing their game is to make an awesome game. If your game is unique and fresh and interesting and compelling it will practically promote itself. If your game sucks, no amount of promotion will help. You can think of getting press and promotion for your game as a multiplier on how compelling your game is. So if your game is fantastic, promotion will be super effective, and more importantly, it will be easy to get.

TR – For all the budding developers out there would you recommend they go down the App Store approach first off, or would you recommend they look at the desktop computer and the console online networks as their first launch platform?

Ron Carmel – Different games make sense on different platforms. If we were making World of Goo today, we would make it for iPad first, because that’s the platform it makes most sense on. If we were making Geometry Wars, we would definitely go for consoles first, since the controls are best suited for that platform. If you’re thinking about it just in terms of where you can make the most money, I recommend the financial industry. That’s where the big bucks are.

TR – With all that you have learnt from developing and releasing World of Goo on such a variety of platforms, if you could take your knowledge back in time, how would you change how you went about releasing World of Goo originally for the PC?

Ron Carmel – The one regret we have is working with retail publishers. Retail deals are responsible for 3% of our revenue and 80% of the pre-launch stress. Not worth it, in retrospect.

TR – At what price has World of Goo sold best at?

Ron Carmel – That’s a difficult question to answer. It’s being sold at so many prices on so many channels, and sales seem to depend more on the channel than on the price. It’s $20 on our website, $10 on Steam, $15 on WiiWare, $5/$3 on iOS ($5 for Universal, $3 for iPhone), $7 on Big Fish, and whatever price you want as part of the Humble Indie Bundle.

TR – You recently did a 99c promotion on the iPad version of World of Goo, was this simply a one off, or were you testing the waters for a long-term price change?

Ron Carmel – You can’t judge the long term sales performance of a game based on a one day discount. It was just an experiment to see how well a one day promotion works. There is no plan to permanently reduce the price of the Universal version, but we may at some point reduce the price of the iPhone version to 99c. If that ends up happening, we would reduce it for a couple of weeks first, to see what happens with sales, and then decide if we’re keeping it at that price or bringing it back up to $3.

TR РYou still sell the game for $20 on your site and it is £6.99 on Steam, do you think PC gamers would be put off World of Goo if they saw it being sold for a couple of dollars at original release?

Ron Carmel – We choose the price based on what makes sense for a particular channel. You can’t charge $20 for an iPhone game and expect it to do well. Each person has to make their own choice about where they want to buy the game and for how much. We’ve had maybe one or two people tell us they were bummed to have bought the game from our website and found out it was being sold for less elsewhere, and we immediately gave them a refund. We’d much rather have a happy non-customer than an unhappy customer.

TR – You still have a donate option on your site, do you still see people use this?

Ron Carmel – Very very rarely. We mostly use it for receiving payments for educational licenses. We sell the game at a deep discount to educational institutions and this link provides a way for them to pay us an arbitrary amount.

TR – Finally, what does the future hold for 2D Boy?

Ron Carmel – That is a great question! Wish we had a more concrete answer for you, but we don’t. Kyle is working on Little Inferno, Ron is working on an unannounced game, and we work together on World of Goo related stuff, like the iOS release. We would both like to work together on another project, be it a sequel or an original game, but there are no concrete plans for that right now, only words and ideas.

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