Having only sold his game on his website, Joost "Oogst" Van Paren, the indie developer behind the critically successful Proun, was not under any contractual obligation to conceal the financial success of the game's "Pay What You Want" model. But as much as the game was downloaded an incredible amount of times, he's thoroughly disappointed by the results:
But didn't I make a lot of money with Proun? More than ten thousand euros, isn't that a lot of money? Yes and no. To me personally, Proun did incredibly well. That is a lot of money to make with a side-project, and since I get to keep most of it myself... wow!
However, over 250,000 people played Proun... Through Ronimo and through my connections to indie developers all over the world, I know what kind of money a game that achieves that kind of success can make. If I would not have done the Pay What You Want model and would have done a fixed price on Steam instead, I think I may have made 5 to 10 times as much money. That is while even taking into consideration that without the Pay What You Want model, the game would have generated a lot less buzz and much fewer people would have played it.
While the Pay What You Want model is a "tremendous marketing tool", it resulted in only "1.76% of the players" paying for Proun. One of the main reasons is that "the free version did not require a Credit Card transaction and was thus way easier to download".
Joost predicts that he would have made a lot more money if the free version was removed and if the minimum purchase was set to $1. Do you think that would have made a difference?