Lenna's Inception is a top-down Zelda-like action-adventure game with a world that is glitching, with a style that can switch between 8-bit and 32-bit pixel art styles.
It's now been available for a year so Tom Coxon of Bytten Studio has written up a postmortem for how it went, and it was a thoroughly interesting read. First, a refresher on who they are. Bytten Studio was initially just Tom Coxon who previously worked for Chucklefish on titles like Starbound and the multiplayer for Stardew Valley, Coxon was later joined by Jay Baylis who also worked for Chucklefish in the past on titles like Starbound and Wargroove.
To date they've managed to sell 6,800 across itch.io and Steam which isn't a lot for an entire year. However, it's well above average going by the 2019 numbers that Mike Rose of No More Robots put together. Game development for indies is clearly tough and most will likely need a part-time job to ensure they can keep going, something Coxon points out in the Lenna's Inception postmortem.
So above average sales, and thankfully the reception was good overall and on Steam right now it's sat on a "Very Positive".
What's interesting for us here is that 5% of the sales were from Linux, which is again (like sales for indies) higher than the average and higher than the current Linux user share on Steam (see our Steam Tracker). Not only that, 22% of their sales were from the itch.io store too so that's a reasonable chunk and certainly not to be ignored. Here's what they said about the Linux stats:
Also of note is that 5% of copies were bought by Linux users, which is a lot more than the average for games on Steam. I think this comes down to several factors:
- The low number of total copies sold means that not many extra Linux users in absolute terms have to find the game to push the relative-terms figure up.
- Actually reaching out to Linux-specific gaming press and treating Linux as a first-class platform. I do think that indies have yet to really figure out how to market to Linux gamers, who often get ignored or lied to by larger studios. There are more than enough Linux gamers out there to make your indie game a success; the difficulty, as with all platforms, is in reaching them. The difference is that nobody seems to be marketing specifically to Linux gamers. The first to actually succeed at this could maybe double their sales figures or more.
I did all the coding for Lenna’s Inception on Linux (I like a good terminal), so officially supporting the platform has been almost free. Linux gamers are also very good at fixing your bugs for you!
The figure for Mac was a lot lower: .8%. Most likely because we dropped official Mac support prior to release because continuing to support it became a huge burden.
So the Linux version sold approximately 340 copies which at their normal price of £7.19 that would be somewhere around £2,444.6 (it went on sale once previously, so likely a bit lower). For a small indie developer, that can make all the difference.
Interestingly, they gave purchasers of the massive Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality on itch.io a copy of Lenna's Inception too so a further eighty thousand people have a copy of it. This had a fun side-effect, which seemed to actually boost their sales shortly after on Steam.
Concluding the postmortem: sadly overall Lenna's Inception was not a commercial success but valuable lessons have been learned from developing and marketing it. Oh and Coxon said "Don't sleep on Linux, itch.io, consoles or localisation. They’re important!".