An example of indie publishing: UniversalisOctober 14, 2010
Ralph Mazza put up an Excel file of the sales for his game, Universalis, going from it’s launch in 2002 to current. In total, he’s moved a little over 1700 copies in the 8 years.
For context, Universalis is one of the most amazing and innovative games out there, but sadly, never really caught on.
Players collaboratively build a setting and characters using tokens, and play itself is through a combination of spending tokens, and producing challenging conflicts to earn back more tokens.
The secret design bit that makes it amazing to play is that the best way to “game the system” is to utilize and support the contributions of other players AND to make things everyone else finds interesting so you can also benefit- the game rewards the group getting on a common page and supporting each other creatively. It creates a whirlwind of fun once the group gets into it.
All that said, the game has only been available in hardcopy, so it hasn’t actually gotten to take advantage of PDF sales yet, which hopefully will give it a second life (and, maybe, folks posting actual play reports never hurts either).
There’s a thread on the Forge with more details and a place to ask questions – if you’re looking at doing game publishing, it’s a good chance to talk to someone who has successfully done indie publishing and learn some lessons and avoid pitfalls.