We all did it! We’ve now sold 2 million copies of Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove. Whoah! We’re starting to think people might be enjoying this thing…. nuts! Just 18 months after its original debut, Shovel Knight surpassed one million copies sold total. Since then, the road to 2 million has been arduous but at the very end of February, an extensive 26 months later, we reached a colossal milestone! Thank you everyone for your unbelievable support! It is so inspiring that people still pick up, play, and fall in love with Shovel Knight for the first time every day.
A lot has happened in those 26 months! We released the Shovel Knight amiibo, our newest campaign Specter of Torment, launched on Switch, brought Battletoads to PC, made co-op playable on all platforms, created an art book, wrote 4 Shovel Knight books, published Gunvolt, Body-swapped Shovel Knight’s campaign, released Vita physical, localized the game to Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, and Russian, and perhaps craziest of all… since the game was so big, we changed the name of the game to Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove, increased the price, and split the games into separate standalone releases.
To celebrate crossing the 2 million mark, Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove will be 20% off for a week— starting today! That includes Switch, Wii U, 3DS, PS4, PS3, Vita, Xbox One, Steam, GOG, and Humble Store. If you were considering giving Shovel Knight a try — now’s a great time! All versions of Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove will also be receiving the final campaign, Shovel Knight: King of Cards, as a free update once it’s ready!
Like we did in the past, one month after release and when we hit one million, we hope to share a little bit of what we’ve learned along the way. It might help to read those previous articles for more context! We hope players and developers alike can find something of interest in the sales breakdown below!
(For the historians, all info on this page is as of March 1st, 2018.)
Sales Breakdown by Platform
Shovel Knight hit 2 million sales! That’s unreal! What does that look like per platform? Let’s take a closer look:
Wow! What stands out at first is that Switch has emerged as Shovel Knight’s 3rd best selling platform– with only a single year of sales under its belt. We’ve sold about 370k units on Switch! Windows has our highest unit sales, but keep in mind we also have the most discounts on that platform. Although, we have been consistent across all platforms by not discounting the game for more than 33% off.
One fancy behind the scenes thing we built this year was much better tools for downloading and tracking our sales data. This means we’ll be able to present information in all new ways! Maybe one day all the platform holders will let us release all our fancy tools to the public. But for now, we have to show you some less specific data! Take a look at our new platform graph:
As other games have experienced, Shovel Knight has sold faster on Switch than on any other platform! PC was the previous leader for units sold in the first month at ~70k. Switch broke that record by selling around 110k during its launch month. Switch’s breakout success can most clearly be seen in our monthly graph below.
Here is a graph of the total of all platforms with listing of our major releases so you can see how timing lines up:
Let’s breakdown some details from the info above:
- We sold over 125k more units in 2017 than 2016! But 60% of those units were sold on Switch. Outside of Nintendo platforms, our sales dipped by about 30% in 2017. However in total, 2017 was our second best year in unit sales.
- Although sales are strong due to Switch, February was our worst sales month since October 2014. Oh no! Hopefully that just means people were busy buying other cool games.
- Perhaps the best indicator of how our sales are progressing from year to year – our rough Windows units sold each year:
170k (2014)->140k (2015) -> 100k (2016) -> 75k (2017)
- We passed 1 million units sold on Nintendo platforms alone in September 2017!
Some interesting facts about the longevity of the current platforms:
- We sold about 500 copies on PS3 in April 2016 just in the US. That seems very high given where the PS3 was at in its life cycle! But we only sold about 30 units in October 2017 on PS3. So, at least for us, that marks PS3’s mighty reign as coming to a close. A similar story could be told for the Vita where we sold 1.8k units in April 2016 in the US. Now we’re down to ~170 units in October 2017.
- PS4 sales have stayed remarkably steady. In October 2016 we sold about 2000. Guess how much we sold in October 2017? About 2000 units! The same consistency in monthly units applies to Xbox One as well.
- We sold over 2000 units on Wii U October 2016, but only over 300 in October 2017. Switch has definitely taken the Wii U’s glory!
- We sold about 2000 units on 3DS in October 2017 compared to about 4500 in October 2016. This leads us to believe that 3DS is still fairly strong (it isn’t too far from the game’s natural decline).
We’re sure there is way more useful data to gleam out of those graphs. Let us know what you see!
Let’s take another approach to the sales data. Here is a breakdown of our sales by region:
Even though we’ve added more languages and released in new territories like Japan, the baseline fact hasn’t changed that Shovel Knight is much more popular in the US than elsewhere. Here is a breakdown by country:
Note, that these can surprisingly vary widely based on system or store. For example, Shovel Knight is almost exclusively bought in North America on XB1:
Whereas on Windows, the crowd is a bit more diverse:
To make it a little more fun, we made this map of the world that highlights more blue if we sold more copies of the game there. Note we omitted sales from the US because it so heavily influences the map– everything else would look quite pale in comparison!
It’s been a joy to see players everywhere enjoy the game. Still looks like we have some work to do to make Shovel Knight appeal more outside the US. Guess we’ll have to start on that Shovel Knight Soccer/Football game to take the non-US by storm!
Normally revenue isn’t a topic we discuss too much as we don’t do big discounts like many other games. However 2017 was a bit different! On March 3rd, alongside Specter of Torment releasing on Switch, we also increased the price of Shovel Knight from $14.99 to $24.99. This had a very large impact on our revenue this year:
As you can see, in less than one year’s time, Switch has overtaken all other platforms and has officially earned the most revenue for us!
2017 was a good year for unit sales due to Switch and Specter of Torment’s release, but it was also our best year yet in terms of revenue. We earned more than double the revenue of 2016. Our biggest unit sales and revenue year was 2015 when we sold about 675k units. In 2017, we sold about 500k units, but we earned ~115% more revenue than in 2015! We know that making this choice carried some risks…
(This is just discussion since March last year…before that, well, let’s just say we’ve seen a fair share of strong opinions involving the game’s price.)
We greatly appreciate everyone’s amazing support, both before and after this change. Thank you for continuing to love us as the price increased to better reflect the added value of all the new content (several years worth of content additions), and telling everyone you know that, yes, the game is worth the asking price.
We’re not sure if the higher price will cause future years to show a steeper decline. 2017 right now kept a similar sales pattern to the previous years, but it’s possible the higher price will cause a faster drop off in the future.
Specter of Torment
After our last sales update, we made it pretty clear that going all out on Plague of Shadows was not worth it financially! We spent more than a million dollars developing the game and made zero dollars… woopsies!
Well, it turns out we’re not very good with money as we ran into the same problem again by stubbornly doubling down. This time, using the magic formula, we calculated spending around 1.5 million dollars developing Specter of Torment. It was a much bigger game, with even more content, a larger staff, and we took more time to make it perfect. We wanted to take everything we learned so far and make it even better than Plague of Shadows and even the original Shovel of Hope! We feel we created something truly special, and we think fans really love it too! But we’re here today for data, so let’s be real and dive into some hard facts about Specter of Torment.
First some baseline knowledge:
- We spent about 1.5 million dollars developing Specter of Torment over the course of a year and a few months.
- We made some money selling Specter of Torment (but not a profit, woops!).
- Development started in November 2015 with the target release date of Q4 2016. The update was ultimately released in March 2017 on Switch but staggered over months for other platforms. We were submitting builds, fixing issues, filing paperwork, and testing until the the last June 1st release for 3DS Europe. Boy, did we go late AGAIN!
- We attempted to develop Specter of Torment and King of Cards (our last campaign) simultaneously. We had a difficult time switching our brains between both projects and so by mid 2016 we had switched to focusing exclusively on Specter of Torment.
- Specter of Torment started as the Kickstarter Stretch Goal “New Playable Boss Knight 2” at the $140k funding goal. The release also included the Stretch Goal “Gender Swap Mode” (which became Body Swap mode) at $160k. If you were using ‘Kickstarter math’, that means we should have spent $30,000 developing this content.
- A portion of development project time went toward creating Body Swap mode, implementing additional languages, ongoing support, and more. This was not the main focus. Some of the features like Body Swap had been in development in the background since the start of the Shovel Knight Kickstarter!
Now let’s take a look at the results!
We made one big change this time! In addition to being a free update to existing owners of Shovel Knight, we also sold Specter of Torment separately. It didn’t do spectacular numbers, but it just broke the 50k sold benchmark. That recovers about 25% of our development costs! A marked improvement over Plague of Shadows 0%, ha!
An interesting note about the graph above. You can see the dip in sales from the first month of March to April for Switch is about a 90% drop! That’s highly unusual as games usually drop about 50% (which holds true for Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove on Switch). We believe this drop is due to Specter of Torment no longer appearing on the store page (unless you searched for it) in April because of new games pushing it off the recent release list. It’s a good representation of how a store featuring a product can greatly amplify (or fail to amplify) the sales.
Specter of Torment in Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
Although Specter of Torment standalone was exciting, more exciting was the attention its new release brought to Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove’s launch on Switch. This sales potential, of course, is hard to quantify. Were people buying Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove because they wanted the full game or because they were interested in playing the new campaign? Since we can’t really be scientific about the Switch, let’s instead take a zoomed in look of the sales on non-Switch platforms:
As you can see, again, the release of an entirely new game inside the existing Shovel Knight did not have a noticeable effect on increasing our game sales during the time of release (Switch came out in March, most other were April). Oh well!
Here are some more fun facts:
- Metacritic has 4 reviews listed for Plague of Shadows, but Specter of Torment performed much stronger with 21 reviews!
- Since our previous stat where 6% of players completed Plague of Shadows on Steam, the community has boosted that number to 8.4%. But, holy smokes, Specter of Torment has already climbed and beat even that with an 8.7% completion rate. This means roughly 30% of the people that beat Shovel Knight also continued on to finish Plague of Shadows and Specter of Torment. Interesting… for people that bought the Specter of Torment standalone, the completion rate also sits at 29.4% (which is identical to Shovel Knight… spooky!)
- For Specter of Torment on Steam, the median playtime is just under 3 hours, while the average play time is almost 7 hours! Compared to Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove, where the median play time is 5 hours and the average play time is 11 hours.
- Even though we are selling Specter of Torment separately and increased the base price of Shovel Knight, we occasionally have people interested in sending money in support of what we’re doing here. So we fixed our broken donation button.
So again, after Plague of Shadow and now Specter of Torment…you’re probably still wondering why we’re going to be adding a 4 player battle mode and King of Cards (an entirely new campaign!) to the game. Well, all we can say is that our plans haven’t changed. We made promises during our Kickstarter, and it’s been our mission to deliver on these promises in the most amazing way possible. We wouldn’t be here without that initial support, and we’re going to continue paying it off by exceeding our promises to the best of our ability. Hopefully in the end, we’ll have created a product that will be heralded as one of the most exciting, diverse, complete platformers out there.
But until then…we hope we can get that Specter of Torment completion percentage above 10%. Whaddya say?!
That’s really all we can say. We’re so lucky to be blessed with the unyielding support from every Shovel Knight player. We hope everyone is looking forward to the final campaign, King of Cards, and the very exciting (we can’t wait to say more!) 4 player battle mode! And don’t forget the new amiibo 3 pack too!
We are so humbled by your support. Seriously! Thank you again!
As a reward for reading the entire article…check out this fancy infographic summing it all up!
We can’t wait to show you everything we’re working on next. We know it can feel like quite the wait! Until then, hopefully this little gif from King Knight can provide you some joy: