The biggest game of Christmas was released on just one platform, had no marketing and it isn’t even finished yet.
While the official charts claim FIFA 14 and Cut The Rope 2 were the biggest games of Christmas, Dean Hall’s PC-only DayZ shifted nearly 1m units and made over £20m in revenue in just its first four weeks on sale.
It is a shining example that you don’t need big publishers and multi-million pound marketing budgets to make a smash hit in today’s games industry. You don’t even need a finished game – DayZ is still in Alpha.
“We’re on track to break one million unit sales within the month from release, which is completely outside the realm of what I thought a PC exclusive title, during a Steam sale, downloadable only via Steam, with a $0 marketing budget could do,” the game’s creator Hall told MCV.
“My expectations were that if we did 250k units within the quarter we released in, I would have considered us a success. We did consider that sales could be substantially more than that, but estimating that felt like complete guesswork so we didn't really try.”
Hall explained that an open dialogue with customers and giving them the chance to help with development is the secret to its incredible sales.
“I think being very open with the release helped a great deal,” he said. “Our media strategy was simply to not have one. We spent no money on marketing, and we actively worked with Steam to reduce the marketing footprint.
“With a strong concept and an open, honest dialogue, direct with customers through social media – people got what they wanted and that resulted in successful sales.
“We chose to do what was right for the game, for the customer, first and foremost. Sometimes that meant delaying the release, changing the price, spending more on initial servers, etc... that resulted in a better product and people see that.”