2016: Better than expected

It’s the start of a new year, and that means it’s time for our traditional time to reflect on the previous year. We did this last year, in 2014 and 2013.

2016 was an extraordinary year in many ways. Here at the Freeform Games HQ, we’re pretty happy with how 2016 went for us.

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Sales overall were up 29% on 2015, and it was our second-best year ever – beaten only by 2011.

Best selling games

Our best selling games for the year were Way out West, followed by Casino Fatale and A Speakeasy Murder. These were also our best-selling games last year.

Overall our top three games accounted for 27% of our sales.

New and updated games

For the first time in many years (possibly ever!) we didn’t publish any new games in 2016. That wasn’t planned, but just the way it worked out. We have been working on a game (The Food is to Die For), it just wasn’t ready in 2016.

Way-out-West-bookBut that doesn’t mean we were just sitting around doing nothing, instead we:

The interweb

We didn’t do much to our website in 2016. We had a few problems with spam on our discussion forum, which is why it’s currently turned off. At some point we will revisit that.

We’ve had more people contact us via Facebook this year, which is a trend that we expect to continue.

Google Adwords

We dipped our toe into the water with the advertising behemoth that is Google Adwords. We’re starting with a low monthly budget to see how it’s going. So far the results appear to be good – although the Adwords’ tracking tools suggest that we’re not making many direct sales as a result of the advertising, we think there’s more to it than that.

So there’s a bit of uncertainty with Adwords, but we’re keeping our budget small for the time being and we’re happy with the overall results.

Flash sales

We’ve been running regular Halloween and Christmas sales for a while, but this year we started to experiment with short ‘flash’ sales. We celebrated the discovering of the tomb of Tutankhamun in November with a short sale on Curse of the Pharaoh.

What about our plans for 2016?

an-12We set ourselves some goals for 2016. This is how we did:

  • Improve the website, again. Fail – we didn’t pursue this in 2016.
  • Improve sales by exploring reviews or advertising. Success – we’re now advertising with Google Adwords. We haven’t explored reviews, but our sales have improved anyway.
    Get the free Way out West in front of more people. Success – we’ve now turned Way out West into a book.
  • Update Death on the Gambia and Curse of the Pharaoh. Partial success – we updated Death on the Gambia but not Curse of the Pharaoh. We’re also almost finished with an update of Snow Business, but I’m not counting that as it wasn’t part of the plan.
  • Publish new games if possible. We didn’t promise to publish any games, and we didn’t.

So I think that’s mostly a success. Our main failure was to improve the website.

Targets for 2017

So here’s the targets we’re setting ourselves for 2017.cita-03

  • Improve our website: Google has a new tool we can play with to try out variants and see which is most effective.
  • Update Curse of the Pharaoh: We didn’t do it in 2016 so we’ll try and get it done for 2017.
    Update Snow Business: This should be ready for early 2017.
  • Publish The Food is to Die For: Currently being playtested, so shouldn’t be too long before we publish it.
  • Re-start work on The Reality is Murder: This has been on the back boiler for years, and it’s time to dust it off and get it ready for publication. With a bit of luck we’ll get it published in 2017.

So here’s looking forward to a good 2017. We’ll catch up in early 2018 and review how we did.

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