lumpley games 5-year Biz Retrospective

I used to present a public business report almost every January! Eventually my biz got too complicated, and it still is too complicated really, but I thought it was a good practice and I figured I’d resurrect it.

This report was made possible by the generous support of my patrons. Please consider joining them by supporting me on Patreon.

Topic 1: Total PDF Sales 2016-2020

The inner ring shows each of our title’s share of absolute sales, 2016-2020. The outer ring shows each title’s share of monthly sales, per month available. For an example of the difference, take The King Is Dead: it accounts for 3.2% of absolute sales, but only came out in 2018, so all of the older games had a head start on it. Normalizing for availability, it accounts for 4.3% of sales.

Anyhow, some points to notice:

  • Taken together, Apocalypse World, the Extended Refbook, and the Burned Over zine dominate, with around 65% of sales.
  • Taken together, MF0: Firebrands, The King Is Dead, and In Dreaming Avalon come next, with 15%-17% of sales.
  • Our older games — 1001 Nights, In a Wicked Age, Murderous Ghosts, Playing Nature’s Year, Psi*Run, The Sundered Land, and a few others — account for 12%-14% of sales.
  • This leaves just a few percent left for our newer and weirdo games.

These are PDF sales only, and don’t include Kickstarter rewards. I’ll get to print sales and Kickstarters later on. Also, throughout, I’m counting sales, meaning the number of copies sold, not revenue.

Here’s how it looked by quarter:

Also worth noting that in 2016 I was laid off from my day job, so this represents the first 5 years of doing game design as my main gig.

Here are our annual total sales:

  • 2016: 1,732 total PDF sales
  • 2017: 2,421 total PDF sales
  • 2018: 1,664 total PDF sales
  • 2019: 2,002 total PDF sales
  • 2020: 2,022 total PDF sales

I think that’s pretty good for, yknow, 2016-2020. All things considered.

Topic 2: Previous Installments

2015-02-14 : lumpley games 2014 biz

2014-01-05 : lumpley games in 2011-2013

2013-02-28 : lumpley games 10-year retrospective

2012-01-02 : 2011 at lumpley games

2011-02-18 : 2010 at lumpley games

Topic 3: Drivethru, Itch, & Direct Sales

There are a handful of games that we host on Drivethru, Itch, and Payhip (our platform for direct sales). These charts show the differences between sales across platforms. The first chart, in terms of absolute sales; the second, in terms of shares of sales.

I expected to see Drivethru lead sales across the board. While it’s true that a huge majority of our sales are on Drivethru, because of Apocalypse World, I’m happy to find that it depends on the title.

Topic 4: Apocalypse World Print & PDF

This chart shows Apocalypse World 2nd Ed’s print and PDF sales per quarter, 2016-2020. It doesn’t include the Kickstarter, the Extended Refbook, the AW: Burned Over zine, or print sales through IPR.

Topic 5: Kickstarters

During 2016-2020, we did 4 Kickstarters: Apocalypse World, The King Is Dead, the AW Extended Refbook, and the AW: Burned Over zine. This chart shows the growth of those games, compared to our non-Kickstarted release of the party game edition of Murderous Ghosts and a variety of other games, including backer rewards.

Apocalypse World, as always, so dominates our sales that it’s hard to make out the other lines. Click to zoom in!

I think a lot about which of our games take off and which don’t, and I’ve been curious about the effect of Kickstarters on the question. This graph shows an example of what I mean. After the Kickstarter, how long does it take for the game to sell that many copies again?

zoom in

Of our Kickstarted games, two have matched and bettered their Kickstarters in subsequent sales — Apocalypse World and the AW: Burned Over zine — and two haven’t yet — the AW Extended Refbook and The King Is Dead.

My working theory, as always, is that play drives sales, so my interpretation is mainly just that people are playing Burned Over more than they’re playing The King Is Dead. It’s consistent with what I’m seeing elsewhere, so, fair enough.

Topic 6: Experimental Games

zoom in

You know us, we’re always looking for new games, new ways to approach the medium and form of roleplaying. While Apocalypse World is the backbone of our business, these experimental games both contribute and keep us excited and engaged.

Since Firebrands-alikes lead our experimental games, I’ve broken them out too:

I honestly expected The King Is Dead to overtake Firebrands, but it hasn’t!

In general I haven’t included trendlines because they clutter up the visuals, but these particular trendlines make me happy so I figure, why not close on them.

Lest I Forget…

Our games on

Our games on Drivethru

Meg’s games on Payhip

My games on Payhip

Thanks for Reading!

I love to answer questions. If you have any, please ask!


He / him.

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