One BILLION Dollars: Or why we are selling our game by subscription

treasure chest

Years ago, a client who had called me four times in three days to give me a contract, ended her last call with,

“You must be independently wealthy that you don’t want this money I’m trying to give you.”

Actually, I was on an American Indian reservation that, at the time, did not have cell phone coverage.  My point is, it may just appear as if we don’t want your money.

Right now, we are selling our games as a subscription. Pay us $35 and you get Spirit Lake: The Game, plus our next two games as they become available, beginning with the beta release and all updates for a year. Trust me, I know what we’re working on and it’s a great deal.

Wouldn’t we  make more money right now if we sold copies of Spirit Lake on Amazon and everywhere else we could for $9.99 ?  Yes, I’m sure we would, and the reason we are not doing that isn’t because, in the immortal words of Dr. Evil we have “One BILLION dollars.”

Here is the truth … we’re a small company and we want to provide outstanding customer service. So far, we have been able to solve 100% of the problems referred to our support team. (The person who said the game wouldn’t run on Linux doesn’t count – there is no Unity player for Linux. Kudos to you for trying it , though. That’s the exact sort of thing I would have done.)

If you ever have a problem with one of our games, please email

At one point, I went to someone’s house 450 miles away to install the game. (Okay, it was a good friend of mine and I was in the area on business, but the fact is we take customer support that seriously.) We recently hired more staff for documentation and technical support. You might notice our new Support page, thanks to Ernesto Flores (take a bow). We vastly improved our installation process.

We’re working daily on making our game better and more user-friendly. However, here is some more truth … we really aren’t geared up to provide user support to 50,000 people, including many who didn’t believe that when we said the game did not work on Windows XP we really, truly meant it.

We know that people who are really interested in educational technology, math education or Native American culture and pretty tech savvy are most likely to purchase a subscription.

Our target market for the next few months is those people who are excited about the opportunity of being involved in building a game with us. These people fall into two groups:

  • People who want to be involved in playing new games to teach kids, who LIKE to play around with technology, who and who like being the first kid on their block to get everything.
  • Educators working with schools needing extra resources to learn math, and who are in areas where we can be available to personally trouble-shoot any problems that occur – so, mostly on American Indian reservations in North Dakota, in Los Angeles and in the Bay area, because that is where we have staff to provide hands-on support.

Our first goal is to make this modest number of people very happy with our games over the next few months.

Our second goal is to make a vastly larger number of people very happy which is why we are adding new staff, and if you’re in the area on September 14th, please stop into our meet-up and meet them.

Oh, and that client who was calling me? I did call her back once I was in the Minneapolis airport. We worked together for the next 15 years until she retired and I’m having lunch with her next week.

I’ve seen some start-up companies fail because they never could get enough sales. I’ve seen others fail because they fell short of customers’ expectations. In business, like in life, it’s almost impossible to earn someone’s trust back after you’ve lost it.