People often wonder just how it is living the international playboy lifestyle off the back of selling Atari Jaguar games - obviously we don't waste our time replying to such questions, but receiving them has become tiresome, so we paid some poor unfortunate who washed up on our private beach to do it for us, now run along - we've got $1000 lesbians to see to:
Deep within the depths of CJ's Reboot Mansion lies a cold, dark corridor. You can't see it from the main landing of the upper west wing - you have to know the special "chinny" technique and be able to apply it to the stuffed Chimpanzee's lower jaw area. As the doorway opens, you'll see a hint of a distant glow down the cold, hard, winding staircase.
The sturdy door requires the use of an invisible key, a secret handshake (to be applied to the stuffed Baboon's left hand, the one with the diamond rings) and an unspeakable password "xuntyxuntyboomboom".
This is where CJ spends his evenings, frolicking in huge mountains of gold and silver pieces gained during his illustrious career as a Jaguar games developer. He even sleeps there sometimes, under a golden fleece on a bed of pure platinum.
First off we sold Beebris.
Rewind - actually, before that, we ported Beebris from the ST (spit!) and gave it away. It was only some time later that GGN had the bright idea to offer a physical copy of a game that was already a free download. Was it said in jest? Was it a crazy scheme to test the waters? Was it worth opening a poll on AA to find out? It was. People voted and eventually we decided to go ahead with a 2-disc release - a game disc and a 2nd data disc (including the game binary).
Off went sh3 with a spindle of Taiyo Yuden CD-Rs, a tub of cheaper branded CD-Rs, a Casio CD printer, access to a rather large industrial colour copier and a few orders to a print shop. And there it was - a stack of 10 copies of our first physical release. And given all of the above, it actually looked quite nice! These copies soon went and were followed by another 10. Then 20 more, and so on and so on. In the end Beebris reached 110 copies, with a copy going to each member of the group, some to our friends and some as prizes at various Atari events.
The release was done very much on a budget, but in a way that was acceptable to the gamers and collectors who wanted to own a copy. It proved to us what GGN had suspected - that people will still buy your games and do so in large numbers, even if you have already given the game away for free. It also showed that Jaguar CD games don't have to cost a fortune to produce if you're willing to invest just a little time and effort.
Lesson number #1 - You can produce a game, give it away, spend very little money making an acceptable finished item, sell it for an unprecedented price and do better than break even.
Beebris made little in the way of profit, but what there was got put to work with our 2nd release - SuperFly DX. This time we wanted to step up the production values and opted for a pretty expensive Amaray BluRay case with swing-fitting, full-face printable Taiyo Yuden WaterShield CD-R (which also required the purchase of a photo/CD printer and lots of extra blue ink), a full colour staple-bound instruction booklet and a heavy stock double-sided printed insert for the case, as well as the 2nd CD.
100 copies were made and we had little trouble finding new homes for them, with the first 20 handed out to group members and reserved for competition prizes etc. SFDX CE cost less than $30 delivered anywhere in the world!. And it still made a tidy little profit, even with a hiccup that cost us 50 printed and burned CD-Rs! While the actual raw materials cost more for this release, the confidence of having sold so many copies of Beebris made SFDX cheaper to produce on some levels as we were able to bulk purchase packaging materials, cases, ink, etc. Having a professional print room produce the full amount of books and covers in one order was much more cost effective. The end result was what we like to think of as a very nicely presented homebrew for an exceptional price.
Lesson number #2 - You can produce a game, give it away, spend money making a very tidy finished item, sell it for a fair price, recover your expenses and make a tidy little sum of money.
So now Reboot had something of a kitty (and an almighty headache of money management, detailing expenses and income to the penny - boring stuff!). We're not talking vast sums here, but enough to pay for CJ's brand new Jaguar CD in order to further our developments, to send it from the UK to Australia and also have some left to help us on the way to future cartridge releases... more on that later.
After SFDX came a number of binary-only releases. With one of these we thought we'd give a go to yet another selling model - give the game away as a binary and let people donate whatever they liked. We'd discovered quite a lot about how releases can pay for themselves with our previous efforts, so why not explore digital only? The PayPal Donate button was activated and linked directly to a 'Reboot' bank account in Oz. So how did that work out? What we found was that Jaguar fans are very generous and will happily show support for releases in any way you let them, not just physical collector copies.
Now the exact whereabouts of the money has been difficult to trace - experts followed the paper trail for several months and the only thing they came up with was this:
Yes, that's solid 24ct gold - They See Me Rollin' They Hatin'
Lesson number #3 - You can produce a game, give it away and Jaguar fans will still happily show their appreciation by handing over money for "nothing" in return.
You could give a game away, then sell it months later in physical form without worry of piracy or repro counterfeiting. You could go to town, spend a fair bit more money & produce a very tidy physical product, sell that to fans at a fair price, make a little cash and all this with a free download just a click away... and speaking of free downloads - you didn't need to even produce a physical product, if you allowed Jaguar fans to support your efforts for a binary-only release, they were more than happy to oblige.
That goes against everything we've been told for 10 years or more...!
Yes. A decade wasted worrying, shouting, arguing and screaming PIRACY! from the rooftops... all had been proven one gigantic waste of time and effort... the bottom line was simple and what any sane and reasonable person might have expected:
Jaguar fans will go out of their way to support your efforts.
They're not sat waiting for an opportunity to screw you over and leave you in the red.
You can bring more people to the Jaguar by giving them more reasons to take a look, even 20 years after the Jaguar was born.
Three selling models, all involving giving everything away freely... and not so much as a whisper of any misdeeds from the Atari and Jaguar fans out there... nor apparently are there hordes of hidden, lurking thieves waiting in the wings with their bootleg factories at the ready. Mission accomplished.
After Downfall came HMS RaptoR and Degz, neither of which we made into physical releases. But now the PayPal button was disabled - it had done its job with Downfall, so it was no longer needed, we knew that method worked and that was enough - there was nothing to gain except money, and we just didn't like the idea of doing that again without putting something in people's hands - it wasn't true to who we are and what we're about.
Some time around here all Reboot's moneys were totalled up and what we received in return for our bundle of cash was our first step towards cartridge releases - 500 empty Jaguar cart cases!
So we all had physical copies of our own games, had given away copies to family and friends and as competition prizes, took delivery of a Jaguar CD drive for development work and now had two huge boxes of cart shells - a nice return for doing what we enjoy!
Kobayashi Maru and Downfall were sold in the original Beebris style format at ejagfest 2011, very limited numbers and very limited cost (8 euros a copy and just to show support for our favourite Atari Jaguar event in the calendar ;-) But KM needed a remix - people had discovered a way to gain huge scores by not playing the game in the way it was intended, so before a proper release, we needed to fine tune a little.
Kobayashi Maru was an opportunity to test one more remaining model - the pressed CD. Pressed CDs are not CD-Rs made at home, they're professionally produced as any regular CD is made, in a factory from a glass master and metal stampers. Due to family commitments and a generally busy year, the physical release of the Jaguar's first full rotary-controlled homebrew game was delayed over 12 months! This was concerning... Beebris was sold around 2 months after release... some people still hadn't heard of that one and the physical release was the first they saw of it. SFDX was sold within a month of a free release. But KM was now over 12 months old - how would a whole year or more affect the saleability of a game?
Would people buy it? Would it break even? Again - there was only one way to find out!
RGCD agreed to work with us on the project - we simply didn't have the resources to handle sales in the same way we had with SFDX, that had been almost a full-time job for a few weeks and then more than an annoying distraction for some weeks after that. We struck a deal, the packaging was designed, the image burned and quite a few companies quizzed to see if they were up to the task. Some said they were but let us down weeks later as they simply didn't have the access to the factory floor that these masters required (Jaguar CDs are not compliant to the usual coloured book standards - the software many of these "middle-men" use simply baulked at the sight of such a disc). But eventually a suitable company was found and the order was placed.
A lot was riding on this now - RGCD were invested in the project and this kind of production, pressed/printed real CDs, packaged in a case with insert and cellophane wrapped isn't done cheaply. Inserting the first copy taken from the first box into the Jaguar CD was a nerve-racking moment. But any fears were soon brushed aside when the familiar ULS logo and RaptoR ROAR greeted us on the screen. All we had to do now was get our money back, then hopefully generate some more funds to put towards the very expensive run of Jagtopus flash cartridges we required for future releases such as Rebooteroids.
6 weeks after release KM:Final has become our most purchased game so far. We now have a highly reliable method of putting out or games, in RGCD we have a partner who is more than capable of handling the logistics and we're left feeling really positive about future CD releases and those all important Jagtopus cartridges!
What you'll see over the coming months is a concerted effort to put out our back catalogue games that have so far remained unreleased as well as including those that have been released, but rather than spend months remixing them into slightly better versions of essentially the same games (which is what we considered previously), we're going to do something that's far more interesting for us and should prove popular with anyone who shares the same love of games from that certain era in gaming history that we do - sounds like FUN :-)