Hitbox Team, the four-man indie studio behind 2012 side-scrolling title Dustforce, has posted a lengthy article which explains how the game's development was funded and what it took for the game to be a success.
The game won the $100,000 Grand Prize at indiePub Games' Third Independent Game Developers Competition at the 2010 Game Developers Conference, enough to fund continued development for around 18 months.
Thankfully development was completed before the money run out, and it launched on Steam in January 2012. On day one the game sold 4,796 copies - a revenue of $44,141. Sales, as is to be expected, tapered off in the coming weeks, but Steam sales and the inclusion in Humble Bundle 6 helped the game generate significant additional sales.
After exactly one year on sale the game generated revenue of $668,490, and income of $489,404. Once expenses and personal income taxes are accounted for $295,000 was left, meaning that for every $10 copy of Dustforce sold, $4.41 ended up in the pockets of the developers - split between the four of them.
So was it worth it?
"Without a doubt, yes, it was worth it," wrote Hitbox's Terence Lee. "It is true that the final earnings, spread out among four people to account for almost 2 years of development is not particularly impressive, considering that more money could have been made at normal jobs without taking the considerable risks that we took. However, it's important to note that the entire time we were doing what we loved, not for the goal of a monetary reward, but in order to make something beautiful come into existence.
"It's not that money isn't important - instead, it was simply that the pleasure of making Dustforce was worth far more than the opportunity cost of working somewhere else. Instead of accumulating the means to an end, we just went straight for the end.
"Lastly, our relative success of Dustforce was a fantastic foundation for us as a studio. We now have the financial means to work on our new project for a while; we also have a proven reputation and a community of challenge-loving players. It sets us up to really turn Spire into the best thing it can be. That's something worth more than just the money we made."