If it were up to your “audience” your website would be porn

I learned an important lesson today.

Over the last 3 years I’ve been writing trashy pulp fantasy-style text adventure games (and before that it was trashy pulp fantasy-style comics, short stories, and movies…. I guess you could say trashy pulp fantasy is my aesthetic).

Anyway, the first 3 adventures in the series were classic “old school D&D module” type games, mainly focusing on dungeon crawling, combat, and puzzles.

By my 4th game, I’d started adding more intricate storylines, subplots, and companion characters. Some of those companions were people you could “romance” like in the Bioware RPGs.

The reaction to the series had been surprisingly positive from game 1, but once I introduced romance it got a lot of attention. The comments started rolling in, and- hey, guess what? The people of the internet wanted MORE romance. Specifically, sex.

So I obliged. Started adding sex scenes.

The commenters loved it! They wanted more.

I gave them more.

You can predict the spiral going forward.

Up until this year, all of the games had been free to play browser games, on sites like Newgrounds and itch.io. At some point, I figured “what the hell? People seem to really like the games, the series won a bunch of little awards, the reviews are mostly awesome, maybe I can make some money with this.”

So I updated the entire series, polished everything to give it a nice shine, and posted it for sale as a bundle on itch.io (while continuing to write new adventures, of course).

I also made a few smaller bundles, like a Western Trilogy collection, a Sword & Planet bundle, and a Fantasy Quest pack.

One thing I decided to include was a “Sexy Goddess Bundle” which featured all the games containing interactive sex scenes. I posted it for shits and giggles, because… why not, right?

Within the first few days the sex games started selling. Quite a lot. I kept checking paypal, itch.io, and my email to confirm this was right, and it was.

I decided to write a couple new porny games and post them for sale, just to see what would happen.

They sold, too.

I’d spend maybe an hour writing these shitty little sex scenes, 1500-3000 words or so, but all the sudden they were outselling the “real” games by 10 to 1, (the real games are substantially longer and take MUCH more time and effort to write).

It’s been about two months now. I’ve been going back and forth on this ever since I posted the first smut bundle… do I keep writing these stupid sex scenes to make a few quick bucks, or do I go back to writing the real games that I actually give a shit about, even though they take longer to produce and nobody seems to pay any attention to them now that they’re “paid games”?

I don’t think I have a good answer. I’ll probably do both. Maybe?

It’s stupidly easy to pump out a few smutty scenes, add them to a bundle, and go watch Netflix until I get an email from paypal saying “congrats, you just made $10!”

It’s insanely seductive to think “Gee whiz, if I can make $100 in a month off of a couple raunchy scenes and a few hours of work, what the fuck can I make if I spent an hour writing a new one of these suckers every day???”

But on the other hand, I don’t really care for it much.

I don’t hate it, of course. The games are easy to write, and I think that (while they may be short) they’re fairly well written. Of course, they don’t need to be very long. Just long enough to get the imagination roaring- the reader won’t be sitting at their computer too long after they get started anyway, if I did the job right *wink wink*

But every hour I spend writing a quickie game about a cowgirl getting gang-banged by bandits is an hour I’m not spending writing my next science fantasy epic- you know, the stuff the REAL audience came for in the first place, not the horny internet randos who saw a thumbnail with boobs and clicked buy without a second thought. (I love you horny internet randos, keep buying smut games!)

Anyway, the point of this whole rambling post is that I listened to a podcast today and the guy said something to the effect of: “If you A/B test your ads and your website long enough, eventually it will become porn.”

He went on to elaborate, saying that if one ad contains a half-naked girl and the other ad intelligently depicts your product, you’re going to get a huge spike in views on the pervy one compared to the more realistic ad.

The problem is, if you start “marketing” your product that way, you’ll be attracting low quality customers- basically, they just clicked for the boobs, and don’t have any real interest in your product.

On the other hand, even though your “real” ad draws in fewer clicks, you’re actually getting the right clicks. People who stop by your site to view your product do so because it’s something they’re actually interested in.

I believe that guy is 100% correct in his thinking. I can see my traffic has spiked wildly these last 2 months and I’ve gotten a bunch of new subscribers, but when I look at the numbers it’s just people clicking on the smutty thumbnails. Almost no one looks at the other games. The only reason the views are high right now is because of the smut.

So… I don’t have any answers. I’m still thinking over what this all means, and what I plan to do going forward.

I have a very strong suspicion that if I decided to write a new smutty game every day, I could be making more money from this than I make from my day job within a year. In fact, there’s no doubt in my mind that would be the case. If I can make $100 in a month from like 6 porn games, just extrapolate that out to 365 games. You do the math.

But then what?

What happens when I start pulling in enough money to live off of and I can work as a writer full time? Do I switch back to writing fantasy?

I think not.

My “audience” wouldn’t follow me. At that point, everyone reading would just want more porn. They wouldn’t be following me because they like my writing and goofy epic stories about barbarians and space monsters, they’d be following because they want more smut to jack off to.

Do I spend the rest of my life writing porn and chasing money? Or do I focus on the real stuff, the meat and potatoes that may not be as popular, but gives me that real thrill while writing it?

I don’t know.

Time to grab a beer and have a good, long think on this situation.

Peace!

kfsb

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