Our Monetization Philosophy
& The Offer
This writeup is a fully transparent explanation as to why we monetize things the way we do.
It also contains an explanation for our price raise as of April 10th 2023.
The offer I have previously made, found at the bottom of this post, remains active and always has. So far, approximately 300 have taken it. I only ask that you read this write-up before you do so.
First, a little history on our approaches.
In October, we began taking new measures related to monetization, namely DMCAing piracy sites, in-game affiliate links, and a significant increase in ads and marketing.
While pushback against this has been very limited overall, I do know that some people’s first instinct will be “our pledged money goes to ads and DMCA agencies??”
I just wanted to update you all on the results of this new approach:
If you look at our public earnings, you’ll notice that since October, our Patreon has gone up very significantly. Taking these measures significantly blew up our growth after a relatively long downtrend, which I frankly attribute to my own complacency.
In fact, since October 1st, our overall income has nearly doubled. This may not reflect in the public numbers, but it is an amalgamation of various other efforts like itch, affiliate links, and other endeavors I’ve worked on like our recent one-day test side project Made with Love.
This has allowed for multiple things:
I hired our tester-in-chief Vector full time, who spent a year thoroughly testing the game as I built test version after test version.
I felt comfortable for the first time taking two months producing an update, regardless of the potential loss from it (turns out, very little loss.) This allowed 0.39 to be a humongous, game-changing update that is incomparable in scope to anything previously produced.
Behind the scenes, I am significantly increasing the scope of our plans as a company. Testing out potential hires I feel I can trust, which is a rarity in this domain. Planning for future projects, future side projects, etc.
While I think this is a great position to be in, I have previously paid the price for complacency, which has led me to decide to make a significant change.
We are increasing the price of the VS updates from $5 to $10 starting on April 10th 2023.
This will not affect existing pledges, and anyone who has been paying $5 on subscription platforms can keep this price.
Here is the reasoning:
I am offering access to the game to those who ask.
Those who are passionate for VS will always be able to get it.
The game is now significantly more than it ever has been.
I firmly believe the product is good enough to ask for this price.
Significant inflation has happened on many products since 2020, and $5 affords significantly less everywhere. I think VS is worth more than what is now a cup of coffee in most of the western world.
Simultaneously, we also understand inflation means many can afford less; but we genuinely would rather you avoid making sacrifices to obtain our work.
We would much prefer that you take the offer at the bottom of this post, we are happy that our monetization practices allows for it.
While VS remains of a similar scope, we now have the ability to have plans for the future as a business.
It’s no longer just me trying to secure my own future, it’s me trying to create a business that will secure other people’s futures and provide you with cooler things.
We’d like to safely get more help and be able to take risks.
We make niche products.
These niche products have a limited amount of potential customers, and we would rather not have to constantly appeal to the mass-market to keep growing.
We would rather make products that appeal to less but are worth more, so that we can make truly unique products that are not tepid passionless creations designed to appeal to the average.
An example of this would be the complexity of options that can be overwhelming to new players. We do not want to be focusing on that. We’d rather focus on providing the most enthusiastic among you with cool things, instead of being driven to pragmatically simplify.
While we do not currently plan to switch to a fully 2 month cycle schedule, the endless single-month dev cycle over the last 3 years has been exhausting and limiting.
To be totally frank, I think I have personally pushed through many periods of burnout just because I felt like I owed it to my agency over revenue.
It’s not sustainable, neither for me nor for my employees. It’s not especially fair to those around me who have to see me go through it either. It has, at times, completely hamstrung my creative drive.
With an increased price, and a new philosophy on creating for fewer, comes an increased sense of security.
This is not to say that we will never release in 1-month cycles anymore, but we want to have the freedom not to. We want to have the kind of user base that understands this and isn’t bothered by it, and I think a different price will help create this feeling over time. We want to create fairly premium unique products for enthusiasts, not mass-market tepid productions beheld to the average expectation.
A change of monetization philosophies.
In the current financial climate, I don't want to create a situation where you feel like you're making sacrifices to get our stuff.
I’d like the support from those of you who are comfortable, and able to support projects you find unique and interesting. I’d like your support, in part so I feel enabled to keep and expand the offer.
$5 is too much for some, $10 is too much for others, but for many like students, people from developing countries, or anyone encountering misfortune, any at all is too much to be reasonable. There is no threshold I can personally set as to ‘’this is affordable worldwide’’, and regional pricing is not an option on our platforms.
I recognize that our supporters can be divided into two primary groups: those who are financially stable and can support our endeavors, and those who may need to make sacrifices to access our content but are still invested in our products.
We aim to ensure that our supporters never feel obligated to make sacrifices for our content.
To allow for that, and in order to enable initiatives such as the offer, we must ensure that we are appropriately monetizing our content for those who are able to support our work financially.
Although our products may be viewed as a luxury due to their adult nature, we have received countless stories from people whose lives have genuinely been improved by using VS.
Therefore, I would like to continue to make our content accessible to those who are willing to ask for it through The Offer.
I would also like to reiterate our plans:
We do not plan to release old versions for free.
We do not plan on making the game free.
Our approach to development is unquestionably focused on growth and creating something that will be a product that people want.
We will be selling the game for a one-time price… once we feel like it’s the appropriate time to. This has been a very iterative game with a path containing many twists and turns based on your feedback - we do not know where the future leads even now, honestly. We can only say that we strive to make the best project in this genre, and that this means burning things down and rebuilding them as many times as we need to.
Our earnings are mostly public, and you can most likely tell that we currently make more than we need to run this operation. This is not something we feel pressured by - Accumulated money is future security and freedom to take risks while doing what we do, creating things.
While we inevitably will receive criticism for this approach that some may deem greedy, I will also take this chance to explain why I don’t subscribe to the starving artist mentality prevalent across most passion industries.
While I strongly believe in our project’s value, I can’t deny how lucky I am for it to have succeeded. Before VS, I was merely a jaded newbie developer looking at severely depressing graphs of how indie games usually perform on steam and wondering how I’d ever make it my own way.
I am confident in my ability to produce interesting content, but I am not so confident I’ll ever be this lucky again and find a niche that allows me to thrive in an industry filled with underpaid passion workers.
Industry Instability, Lack of Security & Diversification.
Even if we were to continue producing adult content people like, sadly adult developers are plagued with a constant fear: the disdain of the SFW world.
Banks do not like us. Governments do not like us. Platforms do not like us. Payment processors do not like us.
Everything is at risk, always. One day, you could be wildly successful on a platform, and the next you might be losing 80% of your revenue to an outsourced guidelines team deciding your content is not appropriate. I’ve almost lost my primary platform twice already; both times, it was absolute nonsense.
Countries have outright banned adult games on Steam, while Patreon is wildly inconsistent. Other platforms just cannot get any significant growth right now, and could easily be at risk as well.
This is a reality all adult game developers deal with, and it’s one I’m choosing to stay ahead of.
I don’t want to be beheld to creating things that are financially viable forever. My true passion lies in unusual things that are not necessarily marketable.
While I thoroughly enjoy developing VS...
Pardon the honesty, but I expect developing adult games is not what I'll want to do forever and always as a creator. I think I've proven my consistency in working on VS, and I still enjoy it, and we will continue to work on it, but I have a responsibility to our future creative freedom to set our financial future up as well as I can.
We have many more plans to create projects of this nature, but the freedom not to do so is what will keep it passionate work instead of a pragmatic obligation.
I do not come from a privileged background. Before VS, I was in debt. My family was in debt, with very little to their name. VS, in fact, was partly a result of me fearing for my family when COVID began.
Nobody around me has the agency I have to work towards a better future for us.
One marketable feature, one minor change to how I approach monetization can have a severe effect upon me and my surroundings life and future.
I do not seek your money if it negatively affects your life. This much, hopefully you’ll see through my offer at the bottom of this post
In return, I ask you to understand my responsibility to be “greedy”.
Now that the business is growing and I am hiring help, I also see this as a form of agency to change people’s lives. I want to be able to provide very secure jobs and a creative future to my employees. I do not want us to be the kind of overleveraged business that runs on a tight budget and crunches to survive. My hiring practices are not just based on merit to the business, but on trying to enable some to have better lives.
I’ll be totally frank; I absolutely fucking loathe the people who force so many artists to feel as if they’re forced to suffer earning a pittance “because that’s just how these things are and you shouldn’t be greedy”.
While I’m financially rewarded for being focused on financial returns, a lot of it is a matter of principle to me. I think all forms of content creators should be able to strive to earn the most they can; countless people provide far less while earning far more than any individual artist can earn.
I have consistently pushed acquaintances and friends towards my “greedy” attitude over the last few years, and I will continue to do so. You can’t eat good-will.
I’m aware not everyone can afford the way the game is structured.
I’m sure our price raise will lead many to reconsider their ability to pay for the game.
You could be in a country where it’s totally unreasonable to purchase the game as well, that much I fully understand.
But I also know that frequently, the most passionate and interested people are the ones who can afford it the least.
My offer is as follows:
If you feel like you fit in these criteria, if you feel as if my monetization is something you can’t afford, DM me on Discord.
I’ll provide you access to a discord server which will forever get the latest updates for VS. I’ve done it for months, and will continue to do so.
I am proud to be able to say that this offer has been a successful gamble on my part, and hasn’t hindered the game’s growth at all. It has freed me to push further for growth while knowing that many that could not normally afford it are now able to obtain it with no real loss to me.
Note: While I've appreciated your stories and knowing why it is you're taking me up on this offer, please do not feel forced to explain yourself. I don't seek to make you beg for my project, it's ok, whatever the reason may be.
I am not around 24/7 to reply (and if I somehow forget, remind me), but if you care about the game to the point of asking me for it, you can get it. Simple as that.
If you've in some form changed your mind as a result of this read, you can find the links to purchase the game on the home page.
Thanks for the support, whatever form it may take.