What is to become of GAME.minder? Watch or listen, or read the transcript below.
Welcome to the GAME.minder Report. This is Jeremy with something a little different.
First off, allow me to set up the irony - This morning we launched GAME.minder for OUYA! Getting this version of GAME.minder out the door was a fun challenge and if you’re just learning about GAME.minder from the OUYA world - welcome!
If you are listening to or watching this show, you probably know that the stated goal of GAME.minder is to track every upcoming video game so that gamers don’t forget to play that next great game they are waiting for. It was a good way to keep a handle on the AAA titles like Bioshock Infinite who’s ship date kept slipping but it was also a tool for grabbing info on that little indie game that wasn’t going to ship “until it’s done” and wouldn’t have a marketing budget to compete with the big names.
If you are a GAME.minder user, you’ve also probably noticed that the data in the system has been growing more and more stale April 1st, which was the day we could no longer afford to pay someone to manually curate the incoming game requests and reports. A lot of the info in GAME.minder is updated automatically via several tools we’ve built but the nature of what we’re trying to catalog means that no automatic tool will ever be good enough.
It has always been our goal with GAME.minder to eventually move to a crowdsourced system of data management. Users would be able to add, edit and vote on entries in the system wikipedia+reddit style. The new backend that we launched in December has support for this but the front end support has not yet been built. There are 3 different clients (web, iOS and Android) that would all need updating to make this happen.
In my mind, a game’s GAME.minder entry would be one part twitter stream, one part facebook fan page, one part wikipedia entry. The whole thing would be powered by users dropping in content Pinterest “Pin It” style, with entries voted on like reddit and funded by in house advertising and affiliate game sales. I still believe that a system like this is possible, but unfortunately, it is looking less and less likely that Handelabra will be the ones to accomplish it. This episode of the GAME.minder Report is going to go a bit behind the scenes to explain GAME.minder’s current situation. The reason is that it is very likely that GAME.minder as a service might be going away and I wanted to explain why. This also serves as an official request for help.
Handelabra, and therefore GAME.minder, is almost out of money. We used quite a bit of it rebuilding the original GAME.minder system into what it is today, the system that launched in December. This system has in place the scaffolding to handle a lot of what I’ve listed above, but we simply don’t have the cash or resources to realize the full dream and I’ve been incapable of drumming up enough investment interest.
Some numbers for you
The GAME.minder app has been downloaded around 160,000 times across iOS, Google Play and the Amazon App Store. There’s also been 51,000 Unique visitors to gameminder.com for a total “new user” number of just over 200,000. Our active user base (users who have actually signed up for an account and set a RE.minder) is just over 27k. Those 27 thousand users have set more than 420,000 RE.minders for an average of 15 RE.minders per user.
GAME.minder currently only makes money when users buy games through the website or apps. Our 2 affiliate partners are Amazon and the iOS AppStore. To put it all on the table, affiliate sales from the AppStore only drive about $60-80 a month. Amazon is even tougher. The majority of Amazon sales are pre-orders which means we don’t get any money until the game actually ships. And even so, months with games like Halo 4 or Bioshock Infinite (in other words, heavy pre-order sales) still only top out at around $100.
To put this into perspective, the hosting costs alone for the GAME.minder backend are usually in the $150 range per month on Heroku. So clearly, the system itself isn’t even at break even, before taking into account the ongoing costs involved with manual curation of data (which is still necessary until the user content creation and voting is ready for prime time) or any ongoing development.
The failure on this front is my own. When I started Handelabra, I envisioned GAME.minder as a simple utility app. As we got feedback about how people wanted to use it, I allowed the concept (and the time spent on it) to grow far beyond it’s ability to support itself financially. I allowed myself to believe that “The GAME.minder Story” would parallel the “Twitter Story”, and the “Instagram Story” and the “Facebook Story”; that we would have investors lining up to fund us at a loss while we built the “next great social games discovery system” with thoughts of turning a profit at some point in the distant future.
We’ve also expanded the GAME.minder name into other areas, this podcast being an additional tentpole for the GAME.minder concept for almost a year now. And just last month, we threw “The GAME.minder Expo” at the Launchhouse in Shaker heights for more than 150 local gamers and developers.
So what’s the point? Well, as we’re at the end of the runway here, I’ve decided it’s time to reach out to the community to see what our next move should be. GAME.minder is just one of the products made by Handelabra, but it is far and away the most financially draining. Ironically, the app RE.minder has become our biggest seller and it was only developed as a way to take the GAME.minder concept in a more generic direction while expanding the .minder brand. Most notably, our other apps don’t have any ongoing costs associated with hosting in the way that GAME.minder does.
So what are the options?
The first, simplest and least useful option is simply to kill it. We would flip the switch on the GAME.minder Servers, pull the apps down from the stores, call it a fun experiment and that’s that. The GAME.minder Report might continue in some form or another but it would be strange to have it continue at least in name if the GAME.minder app and site are gone.
Another way to go would be to sell the entire system lock, stock and barrel to the highest bidder. If you think you can take GAME.minder from what it is, and turn it into what it can be, please get in touch with me by visiting GAMEminderReport.com/Contact. Over the life of the service, we’ve had several conversations with potential purchasers, several with the word “GAME” prominently displayed in their name. All of these talks have fizzled.
Yet another option would be to crowd fund continuing development. As the main failing of GAME.minder appears to be its business model, giving people an opportunity to pay for the service directly might work out. I have no idea what people would be willing to pay for what GAME.minder does. For the majority, it might be “nothing” and that’s certainly fair.
We’ve explored this option before but there are several “gotchas” here. The first is that GAME.minder is close enough to a social network that we would likely not be allowed on Kickstarter. There are other crowd funding tools, but kickstarter is certainly the most well known. Second, running a good crowd funding campaign is a full time job in and of itself and as I’ve already said, we are severely limited on resources right now.
Another option would be to open source the whole thing and hand it off to the community. If you are interested in helping in this regard, please get in touch by visiting GAMEminderReport.com/Contact.
I jumped into the deep end of the pool when I decided to take GAME.minder from “simple iOS only app” into “global video game tracking system”. I made a bet, not only that the idea was a good one, but that I had the ability to manage the building of such a system and it appears that I have lost that bet.
But the fight isn’t over yet. I’ve met a lot of gamers over the last 3 years at events like PAX and RTX and I know that you like GAME.minder and you like what it does. If you don’t want to see it go away, now is the time to act. If you have any ideas whatsoever about how to keep GAME.minder from ending, please get in touch with us by visiting GAMEminderReport.com/Contact.
Thanks for listening and as always - Don’t Forget To Play.