Hi, all !
As you may know if you have been following this blog, I have worked for a year on Neurosky technology and released two games to make your brain work a little : MindLabyrinth and the very experimental, 2 players game Magical GNU.
Also, during this first year of my one-man company,
- made a Haxe library to work with Bluetooth (linux-only at the moment)
- made a Haxe library to use Neurosky’s headsets with Haxe (cpp) on all platforms
- worked on my KyotoTycoon Haxe lib
- created ThinkSlow web site (in english & french)
- put up a web store using share-it (but I will soon move to DieMIDS )
- opened a youtube video account
- opened this very blog on Tumblr
- opened a twitter account
- made a lot of coding experiments
- done a lot of paperwork
- been to the LinuxTag to showcase my games featuring Neurosky’s headsets on Linux
Now, since I have devoted all this time to make ThinkSlow get known and my game get sold, in the good old indie transparency way, I will also share with you data about the ‘mind enabled’ business.
So it’s been about 6 month since the release of MindLabyrinth and since I started my business to make games and eventually raise some money - because you know, like everybody I need to feed my kids… - I hoped the high-praised Neuro market would make an iPhone-like start. I thought that everybody would jump on Neurosky’s headets to try out new way of playing. So it was a bet and like every bet either you win… or you loose.
So I did both. (actually we did both , because we were two on the project:) )
I won a lot of experience about programming for these devices, and it was a way for me to start toying with Haxe, hxcpp & NME. So I ended up with two games which work in a reliable fashion on every platform. It was also a way for me to start my business with something really new, something that would trigger both my interest and everybody’s interest as well. I can say that for starters it has been a good idea.
So did it make me rich ? Well, I would not say that. In total with my friend Laurent, we earned about 200€… Six month, a little bit more than twenty sales, minus taxes and share %.
So am I sad ? not really since I simply lost my bet on the technology. Now, I have to say that the real problem with this tech is that even though it works and even though it is kind of cheap - 100€ - nobody knows it exists.
I mean, MindLabyrinth is on the first page of both Neurosky’s stores ( US & Europe ). There have been news & press coverage. But nothing came out. Having contacted other developers, I am not the only one to get this feeling. So it means that either there aren’t a lot of people buying the tech or knowing the tech or coming back to Neurosky web store after buying. Or Maybe people who buy just aren’t gamers ?? Or maybe people are not interested by the game ? Well we can’t know. We don’t have access to any kind of data.
Moreover, you can read things in the press about Neurosky tech but there’s nothing viral about this and I think the store really lacks games. There’s simply not enough apps to download. 100 apps, but what kind of apps ? apart from the interactive movies, there’s not much to play with.
Now, does the tech lack developers ? I don’t think so. Buying a headset is easy, getting started with it is really fast. There are API for many languages (and now Haxe as well ) and the tech support is excellent. So what ?
I think the main problem is somehow that the customers are the developers. Attracted by a high geek factor, developers come, toy a little bit with the headset and that’s pretty much it. Of course I may be mistaken…
They don’t seem to get to the next step (i.e. make a commercial app) because it is always a bet to make apps for an unknown market and even more when you don’t have access to any kind of data. Because let’s face it : Neurosky won’t share stats or figures. It is a very black box company. So when you start to work with them, you’d better be prepared to do things with your only hope and optimism. And yet they sometimes hint that this or that app (which one ? we don’t know) made a lot of sales (what is a lot ? we don’t know either ).
And when you just want to know how many people bought their device. Well you can’t know because it is a super-top-secret information.
Yes, I may sound a little bit naive to have started making projects while they would not give me any hint about their market. But you know, I really enjoy their tech. And I really would like this tech to make its way like the kinect did.
And in their kindness Neurosky sent me two MindWave mobiles so that I could continue to nourish my hopes. And yes, it worked since I made Magical GNU, a 2 players game on Linux working with both headsets. And the game was genuinely liked by players.
So don’t misunderstand me. I don’t blame anybody here. I just blame the politics inside Neurosky and the lack of real-life / real-time feedback. Come on guys. How do you want to get people make commercial apps if you do not disclose anything ? It is kind of absurd.
Furthermore, how do you want to make developers happy if you don’t give them tools to get data from their sales. I mean in every store now apple, android, ubuntu stores, you got access to :
- real-time description updates : you can update the product details when you want.
- real-time sales figures : you can know when you want how sales are doing.
Now, when we want to update MindLabyrinth we need to send a mail with a link to the game executable. Then wait for xxx days until someone updates the product in the store…
And for data, like it is said in the developer agreement : you get a ‘report’ ( actually, it is a screenshot…) once a… quarter ! No, I am not kidding. That’s true.
So If you ever plan to jump you’d better start your own shop. Which is not difficult nowadays.
Because in the end, I will repeat this : the tech is great so why not give it a try ? Especially now that the new MindWave Mobile is out so that you can go iOS or Android.
So Neurosky :
- +1 developer experience
- -1 sales experience.
So now, all this being said, what am I up to ? Well, I will finish my mobile game ( Reconnect ) featuring the MindWave Mobile and then move to another mobile game based on my very recent Ludum Dare entry. It will be a good experience and should give me enough work until september.
I will also try to finish my Haxe bluetooth lib (mac & windows) add iOS & Android support to my Haxe Neurosky lib and finish many other side-projects.
Well that’s it for the news. :) Thanks for reading :)