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Mr Prepper – how a game made $200k within 12 hours after launch (7 min read)

Mr Prepper – a game in which you build your personal shelter, trade with neighbors, build machines in a world on the edge of nuclear war. All that while avoiding the authorities.

It has been made by PlayWay, a studio specializing in low and mid-budget games with such hits as Car Mechanic Simulator and House Flipper.

?Strategy & Tools

Highlights 

  • Nov 25, 2016 – the game development begins

  • Jan 6, 2019 – first teaser arrives. It has been viewed 33,000 times

  • Jun 6, 2020 – Mr. Prepper Discord server is launched

  • Aug 27, 2020 – Mr Prepper:Prologue is released–a free first chapter of the story. It received 85% positive reviews from over 2000 players

  • Late Feb 2021 – Mr Prepper has been already wish-listed by over 250,000 players(1)

  • Mar 18, 2021 – Mr Prepper is released. By the time of the release, 264,000 players have added it to wish lists, making it 32nd top wish-listed game

  • Mar 19, 2021 – The whole cost of development and marketing, 800,000 PLN ($200,000) returned after just 12h since the release(2)

  • Mar 21, 2021 – the game has been already bought or activated from the wish list by 35,000 players. The total number of sold copies was at 61,000 72h since the release

Influencers + Beta = Views
Mr Prepper wasn’t expected to be such a hit after the first teasers. However, beta access has been given to select “Let’s players” on markets such as the US, Spain, Ukraine, Russia, Germany, Poland, France, and more. Reviews and gameplay live transmissions have been released in English, Spanish, Russian, and French which covered a large part of the world’s regions.

Each of the early access videos has been viewed 50 to 280 thousand times(3) which could contribute to a good few millions in reach, giving the game enough visibility and creating demand. On Twitch alone, the game has been viewed by over 24,000 people(4)

Free Prologue

The demand has been further stoked by releasing a free standalone prologue game that featured the first chapter with the story beginning. It wasn’t a hit on Twitch but as a standalone game, it could be reviewed on steam. This contributed to over 2000 reviews(5), out of which 85% were positive.

Building Community
Although most social channels of the game weren’t a success, Mr. Prepper’s Discord gathered almost 10,000 people. The community has been active well before the March release, and it has been quite active since the early beginnings. The game creators encouraged community members to leave feedback, share content, report bugs, ask questions, or more.

A shareable theme
Prepper and post-apocalyptic themes are quite popular in the gaming community. Streamers love new simulation games, and they often tend to go viral–such as My Dad Is an Octopus, Goat Simulator, Farming Simulator, Car Mechanic Simulator (by the same creators), and more.

Mr. Prepper approached the post-apocalyptic theme in an innovative form of simulation that doesn’t guide you by hand on what to do next.

A classic marketing funnel
The marketing of Mr. Prepper was based on “classic” funnels, and it didn’t ask for too much at too early buyer stages. Once the first content brought attention to the title, the main CTA was to join the wish list and get an 8% discount for doing that. 

Adding a game to a wish list on Steam makes you see all the latter discounts or releases. The attention was turned into such a state and then converted to buy when the game was released. The number of people on wish list was also boosted by a promotion saying if the number of people on the wish list reaches 265,000, everyone there will get a 10% discount.

Pricing
It took 4 years to develop this game but the budget for development and marketing was rather small – larger studios would spend 800,000 PLN per month, not on the whole development process.

The pricing was right tailored to the budget. The game costs 72 PLN ($20) – only 11,111 players had to buy it to reach break even. That’s still a significant number but with over 260,000 people on the wish list, waiting for the release, they would need only around 3.8% conversion rate to reach the break-even point. The wish list CR after 72 hours was closer to 13.4%.

News and Community picks
Once it turned out that Mr. Prepper was such a hit, media covered it and the game became featured on Steam’s “Community Recommends”. Such recommendations fuel the further growth once the game gained enough recognition.

Tools
Steam
Discord

?Psychology

Social proof
A referral from someone you know is always more convincing than reacting to a cold pitch. Even if the relationship is made with an influencer or a streamer you follow – if he likes the game, you’re more likely to like it too and buy it.

Curiosity Gap
Once the curiosity is sparked, people have a deep desire to learn more about a product or an offer, or simply click the headline. Here, people were curious about what’s the game all about and then how the story continues after the prologue.

Flow state
Under the current circumstances, people go into a flow state in which they are 100% focused on what they’re doing. Once they got interested by the first streams, they could go to steam and add the game to the wish list in one motion.

Storytelling Effect
People fall for good stories. The story of Mr. Prepper is quite interesting, which players could witness in the prologue. From then, many of them deeply wanted to learn how the story unfolds.

Zeigarnik Effect
People better remember incomplete tasks. In the prologue, you got immersed in the gameplay and storyline, and then had to stop. Then, you remembered the story and wanted to finish it when it was released.

?Window of Opportunity

The most important lesson here is to tie the budget to the pricing and the desired outcome. Mr. Prepper was a business success because of the right amount of demand the early content has generated and a high-enough number of players who bought the game after featuring it on their wish lists. You don’t need a large budget or be extremely creative if you simply know where to hit!

?Links

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