Puzzles By Joe has existed since 2000. For my first 3.5 years, I made games mostly for myself that were both abstract and difficult. I made about $300 from about 6 different games by selling them directly through my website. Those games only ran in Windows and they were pure “puzzles”, no time was invested trying to make them “fun”.
In 2003, I investigated having my games distributed on Big Fish Games and Paul Thelan (the Founder, Chairman and CEO of BFG) wrote me a very nice and detailed letter telling me what I needed to have my games be to qualify for inclusion on Big Fish. It was one of the nicest, most detailed e-mails I’d ever received (and I wish I still had it). The day I got that email from Paul, that was a good day.
So in 2003, I made two games Gem Shot and Break The Bank that I sold on Big Fish Games and each one made me about $3000. Gem Shot was a three-ball match/shooter for hyper active people and Break The Bank was a place Tetris pieces to cover a grid game. This was before the boom in “Casual Games” and Gem Shot was actually the top game on BFG for 1 day…because just about every game that got released achieved that.
In 2004, I went to work for iWin and along with David Fox, created the Mah Jong Quest series for them. In Dec. 2004 through Feb. 2005, Mah Jong Quest was arguably the biggest game in the Casual Games market (as it was just starting to boom). Mah Jong Quest was a collaborative effort and lots of folks at iWin contributed to it’s success. David Fox, Warren Schwader, Jim Stern, various Artists and Cj Wolf all added to the quality of the Mah Jong Quest series.
The day that Mah Jong Quest hit #1 on Big Fish Games and basically stayed in that spot for about a month…was another good day. And I made a $5000 bonus when Mah Jong Quest launched because it was the first game I completed while at iWin. Another good day.
In November of 2009, I left iWin to create Clutter, my own original-IP. In Feb. of 2011, Clutter was born and did just well enough to warrant a sequel. In May of 2012, Clutter II – He Said, She Said was born and with the bump in sales to the first Clutter is doing well enough that I’m trying to finish-up Clutter III now and I have two more games planned before the end of 2013 (or early 2014).
The Casual Games market is huge now (we are definitely after the boom) but Clutter peaked at #25 on Big Fish and Clutter II peaked at #33. The deluxe versions of HOGs dominate the Top-10…and I was happy just breaking into the top-100. Also, over in the Brain Teaser list, Clutter II was the top game for quite a bit (and resurfaced to gain the top spot again even after being a year old). And Clutter I and II were both in the #1 position for a week or so when launched on iWin. All good days.
Lastly, Clutter I and II are both in box-products sold at Walmart by a company called Onhand Software. Seeing my game in Walmart (whether Mah Jong Quest or Clutter) are always good days too.
But…Prince’s song…”Nothing Compares 2 U” just played on my iTunes and that’s the opposite of ironic…because I’m going to tell you about the best day.
I read all my reviews, good and bad…and get great pleasure out of knowing that some people really love my Clutter games. A couple of years ago, I added a Donate button to my Puzzles By Joe website. A few (about 6 I think) months ago, I added a little more of an explanation about it’s purpose as sort of a “Tip Jar”. Yesterday, June 29th, I got my very first tip for $20. It was a tip from a very nice lady in southern N.H. and although I grew up in Penacook N.H., this nice lady only knows me through my Clutter games.
In no way, is it the money itself. But…the fact that a stranger enjoys my games so much that she decided to tip me a $20 bill…is just incredible. I’ve had a lot of really good days since deciding to create games for a living. But yesterday was a great day.
I’ve worked in a Grocery store but I never worked as a waiter in a restaurant, so I’ve never been tipped that way. I’ve played Piano in front of 800 people (on a cruise ship), and I’ve played a couple of times in coffee houses (mostly original songs), but I’ve never been tipped there either.
I’m almost 57 and I believe this is my very first Tip…
…and that is truly awesome.