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Hive Time from developer 'Cheeseness' released nearly a year ago, and so the developer has written up a lengthy blog post on the development and the finances. A good read if you like behind the scenes dev info, here I will sum up a few interesting bits from it but the full article is definitely worth reading.

It's a thoroughly interesting read because Hive Time is in quite a unique position. Not only because it's made with open source tools like Godot EngineBlender, the GNU Image Manipulation ProgramInkscape, and Audacity it also released where you could download it for nothing. Technically, it's a $10 game but they made it pay what you want for people who can't afford to pay. The pay what you want model was made pretty popular years ago thanks to the likes of Humble Indie Bundle and others, but for selling a single game how does it turn out? That's what Cheese talks about and it seems to have been a tough sell overall.

For people after some hard numbers, Hive Time appears to have sold under 600 copies after almost a year. That's not counting people who claimed it from the huge itch charity bundle. In terms of revenue, they said how they've "been unable to approach anything near covering development costs". Itch doesn't have per-platform sales, but it does show downloads per platform-file which Cheese showed as:

Pre-release:

  • Linux (27.19%)
  • Mac (12.93%)
  • Windows (59.88%)

1.0 release:

  • Linux (8.24%)
  • Mac (14.72%)
  • Windows (77.04%)

1.1 major update:

  • Linux (10.03%)
  • Mac (8.88%)
  • Windows (81.1%)

Never seen Hive Time? Check out one of the amusing trailers below:

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The full blog post contains a whole lot of info to go through, including fancy charts showing downloads and sales corresponding to articles, videos, livestreams and more. Nice to see that we're one of their seemingly bigger regular referrers.

While it may not have sold as much as they had liked, they're clear that it's been a valuable learning experience they will put into future projects and they've been happy to run it with the pay what you want purchase option.

You can read the full post here and buy Hive Time from itch.io which is under a pay what you want price.

Disclosure: Josh 'Cheeseness' has been a regular contributor to GamingOnLinux over the years on a completely volunteer basis. As always, my decisions to cover things are simply based on my own interests and because Hive Time is cool. Save the bees.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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15 comments
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WorMzy 24 Oct
I'd be happy to pay $10 if it went up for sale on Steam. I'm not sure I buy into the whole "doing so now would also mean abandoning commitments" argument against that, unless keeping the game up-to-date on two (or more) platforms is unviable, and putting the game on Steam would mean having to remove the game from Itch. It reads more like Cheese doesn't want to put the game on Steam due to stubbornness, which is perfectly fine -- it's stubbornness on my part stopping me buying the game on Itch after all.
CatKiller 24 Oct
Quoting: WorMzyI'd be happy to pay $10 if it went up for sale on Steam. I'm not sure I buy into the whole "doing so now would also mean abandoning commitments" argument against that, unless keeping the game up-to-date on two (or more) platforms is unviable, and putting the game on Steam would mean having to remove the game from Itch. It reads more like Cheese doesn't want to put the game on Steam due to stubbornness, which is perfectly fine -- it's stubbornness on my part stopping me buying the game on Itch after all.

The commitment he's talking about is a self-imposed philosophical one: being able to buy the game without having to create an account, as well as the pay-what-you-want model.

QuoteThe full set of commitments/constraints (pay-what-you-want pricing, being able to buy/play without requiring a storefront account, being able to buy/play without requiring a storefront client, being able to play without forced updates) that I've embraced significantly limit the storefronts I can sell the game on.

You don't (necessarily) need to be running the Steam client to run a game you purchased through Steam, but you do need a Steam account and to have run the Steam client at some point to download it. It is possible to continue running non-updated versions of software through Steam, but it requires manual intervention since Steam was created as a means to get updates out to everyone.

Later in the piece he describes Steam as "less user-friendly" because he views those constraints as important.

Interesting read, though.


Last edited by CatKiller on 24 October 2020 at 2:51 pm UTC
mirv 24 Oct
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I'll be honest and say I'd forgotten about hive time, but now I've gainful employment once more then I bought a copy. I quite approve of the game myself.
ShabbyX 25 Oct
Quoting: CatKillerbeing able to buy the game without having to create an account

That's great, but stopping others who do want to create an account from buying the game is counter productive. I'm ok with steam, I support them because they are doing good for Linux, and I don't really want to have multiple store fronts / game launchers. They think putting this only on itch has the benefit of no account and pay what you want, but the truth is it's stopping me who want to have an account and want to pay full price from buying the game. It shouldn't be only itch, it should be including itch IMO.


Last edited by ShabbyX on 25 October 2020 at 5:29 am UTC
Cheeseness 25 Oct
Quoting: CatKillerIt is possible to continue running non-updated versions of software through Steam, but it requires manual intervention since Steam was created as a means to get updates out to everyone.
That manual intervention is so far beyond what a typical user is going to be up for, and it needs to be re-done every time the game updates (which a user might not notice and may end up accidentally launching a new game, risking their saves, etc. if there are any format changes or other backwards compatibility breakages). That is very much in conflict with the kind of customer experience that I'm committed to providing for this game.

Quoting: mirvI'll be honest and say I'd forgotten about hive time, but now I've gainful employment once more then I bought a copy. I quite approve of the game myself.
Super appreciated. Many thanks

Quoting: ShabbyXI don't really want to have multiple store fronts / game launchers
The whole point here is that you do not need to have those. I'm totally happy with people choosing to not buy or play the game, though 👍

As mentioned in the article, I tested that the game runs happily through the Steam client when added as a "non-Steam game" before release, so anybody who wants to have the experience of playing the game through Steam can do so without problems.


Ultimately, one of my goals with this game was to study and write about the dynamics of pay-what-you-want games, and I wouldn't really be able to do that if it was also available with a different pricing model (especially in a place where I wouldn't be able to advertise its pay-what-you-want identity to prospective players).

The article goes into more detail, but Hive Time has been downloaded over 40,000 times, and including Itch bundle purchasers has over 800,000 owners. Insofar as finding an audience goes, the game has been far more successful than I had expected or wanted - on both counts, more than some of the games I've worked on that are on other platforms (including Steam).

Edit: Fixed URL


Last edited by Cheeseness on 26 October 2020 at 8:56 am UTC
Rooster 25 Oct
Quoting: WorMzyI'd be happy to pay $10 if it went up for sale on Steam. I'm not sure I buy into the whole "doing so now would also mean abandoning commitments" argument against that, unless keeping the game up-to-date on two (or more) platforms is unviable, and putting the game on Steam would mean having to remove the game from Itch. It reads more like Cheese doesn't want to put the game on Steam due to stubbornness, which is perfectly fine -- it's stubbornness on my part stopping me buying the game on Itch after all.

Stubborness with arguments = commitment
Stubborness without arguments = stupidity
ShabbyX 25 Oct
Quoting: Cheeseness
Quoting: ShabbyXI don't really want to have multiple store fronts / game launchers
The whole point here is that you do not need to have those

Added as a non-steam game works, but then you don't get updates. Selling steam keys per pay-what-you-want may work, probably with a special clause that steam keys require a minimum because steam charges you or something.
Quoting: ShabbyX
Quoting: Cheeseness
Quoting: ShabbyXI don't really want to have multiple store fronts / game launchers
The whole point here is that you do not need to have those

Added as a non-steam game works, but then you don't get updates. Selling steam keys per pay-what-you-want may work, probably with a special clause that steam keys require a minimum because steam charges you or something.

Steam does not charge developers for keys. I can request 10000 keys to use on another store/bundle/giveaway and Steam is 100% ok with that.
mirv 25 Oct
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Seeing as the conversation is going this way anyway....

Here is highlighted one of the problems of Steam really. It's not desirable for the developer in this case - and I'll point out a developer who is a GNU/Linux game porter, amongst other things - but there's such heavy reliance on Steam to the point where people won't buy a game that's not on it.

I mean I get it, all your games managed in one place. I just still can't get past that this reliance on a single gaming client controlled by someone else, is not a healthy thing. A bit of competition is needed to give a better experience for all.

On a semi-related side note, I'm quite appreciative of how Hive Time gives the option of keeping itself up-to-date or not. I normally turn such things off myself for privacy and stability concerns (the latter because "if it 'aint broke, don't fix it").

And for something entirely different, something that caught my eye and I just liked was the menu scroll indicator: rather than a straight line, it follows the edge of a hexagon. Nice little touch there.
Rooster 25 Oct
Quoting: mirvI mean I get it, all your games managed in one place.

If this is the desire, wouldn't one be able to achieve such thing using Lutris?


Last edited by Rooster on 25 October 2020 at 5:32 pm UTC
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