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Let's say I've made a game X.

Things we know about the game:

  • It's a board game
  • Game will run on PC, Macs, iOS and Android
  • Sold through Steam, App Store and Google Play store
  • Turn based
  • Has few to none competitors on the market
  • High-quality art
  • Peer reviews and impressions (100 paid impressions) rate this game as 84/100.
  • Game is available in 10 world most used languages.
  • Game will be advertised through Twitter, Facebook and through bought impressions.

How can I estimate the money the game will make? What it takes for a developer to make an educated guess?

To be clear, I'm not asking anyone to calculate the revenue, rather - how to calculate it myself, what data to look for etc.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You can't. It has the same chance of getting lost in the noise as rising up to moderate levels. \$\endgroup\$ – Bálint Jan 12 '18 at 7:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Although you can not calculate anything with 100% certainty, you still can make educated estimate/guess (like the Pirates of Caribbean directors can predict with high degree of certainty what budget will return what box office) \$\endgroup\$ – Kromster Jan 12 '18 at 8:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bálint You are right about the 100% certainty. Even big companies flop with movies that multi-million budgets. But I know there's a way to predict those things having enough data on the market and about the product. I just want to know how to use that data. At least in principle. \$\endgroup\$ – Creative Magic Jan 12 '18 at 8:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Let's be honest, if you're a new game developer who has never put a game in a store, then your initial userbase is going to be very close to 0 \$\endgroup\$ – Bálint Jan 12 '18 at 8:52
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You can only make educated guesses at this - your revenue will be tied directly to the number of copies of the game you sell, and if there were a way to compute that with any accuracy, we'd all be much richer.

Most companies (it's usually publishers, specifically, that do this) do what is essentially market research. They mine data from as many sources as they can, public and private, to get any idea of how well games with similar features did on similar platforms at similar times of the year. If a company has released a similar product themselves, they'll have that specific market data to draw upon, as well.

Today, the indie boom has made this a little easier to do, because there's more publically-available data floating around. SteamSpy, for example, while not perfect, is much better than anything that was available to the small-time developer twenty years ago. Many indies are much more open about their successes (or failures) post-launch, as well, and you can often find postmortems by developers that detail some sales information. For example, the developer of Cogmind (not at all similar to your game) published recaps of year one and year two of the life of his game. If you search around, you may be able to find similar postmortems from developers of games like yours.

Outside of correlative data like the above, you can use more direct numbers from other ways users have engaged with your game before release (if you have them). For example, does your game have a Twitter account? How many followers does it have? How many mailing-list sign-ups do you have? YouTube views or subscriptions to your developer logs? Et cetera. That kind of pre-ship engagement traffic can help give you rough estimates of the order of magnitude (at least) of what your sales could be. Provided you don't turn everybody off with a bad price point, of course.

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