Independent developer/publisher Mia Blais-Côté announced recently that she is planning to remove her last title, 4 Alice Magical Autistic Girls, from Steam in January of 2022. Her farewell post below explains in personal detail but to sum it up: making profitable games, by yourself, is very hard. It’s also a good reminder that putting a game on a digital platform costs money whether it’s turning a profit or not.
Since I receive many questions about why I’m delisting, I think more explanations are in order. When I was on Steam as a developer from 2017 to 2019, my “0$ budget” Visual Novels didn’t cost me much to create. Some softwares, such as RPG Maker MV, and the Steam Direct fee. But since I was releasing 1 game per month, that was +1 Steam Direct fee every month, plus other fees I had to pay back them, such as hosting for my dev website. Thus, I was still in the red. I only managed to recoup in good part thanks to the final sales.
I quit twice and returned for a third time with 4 Alice Magical Autistic Girls. I wanted to “start anew”. I was hoping that, with a “real / professional” Visual Novel with a “real” budget, I would recoup and gain profits, but reality doesn’t work that way. During the launch week, I sold less than 10 copies. Then I simulate my gains. If I only sell copies during the summer / winter sales, plus during a couple of special discounts, I will make like only 500 CAD$ per year so 10 years before recouping! 4 Alice Magical Autistic Girls cost me more than 5K CAD – so close to 4K USD – to produce and some artists I had worked with for the art told me it was a “pretty limited budget”! It’s not rentable at all so I rather delist the game and try to recoup what I can.
I hope for your understanding. That doesn’t mean I’ll completely stop writing stories or making text-based / visual novel games with “0$ budget”. After all, there is i-t-c-h-i-o, but for Steam as a developer and for costly projects, it’s over.Steam Store post
For now you can pick up 4 Alice Magical Autistic Girls from Steam for a bit longer, or on itch.io where it will remain and is currently on sale. Thanks to Mia for sharing the news and past delisted titles that will be on the site soon.