Last week, indie game-maker Jason Rohrer launched a clever promotional campaign for his new game The Castle Doctrine in which he promised to give out real cash prizes to players depending on how much money they could steal in the game.
Today, Rohrer has announced the results of the competition. The top player stole $333,952 of in-game cash during the duration of the competition, which translates to $316USD actual money. Like the other top players, he also got a physical print of a cool pixel-art painting and as top prize winner, he won Rohrer's own unused dog club.
The rest of the winners are listed at Rohrer's site. As for how Rohrer thinks the promotion played out?
So... did this contest work to promote the game before launch? Was it worth running? Absolutely. The buzz around the contest created the second biggest pre-Steam sales day in Castle Doctrine history: 795 people bought the game in one day. This was topped only by the alpha launch day back in March 2013, when 826 people bought the game.
All told the contest cost me around $4500 to run, which is cheaper than advertising for a week on any noteworthy website. The sales generated from the coverage on a single day more than covered this cost. It didn't annoy innocent bystanders (like advertising does), and it added to the world and community of the game in an interesting and meaningful way.
And, perhaps most importantly, it created an incredibly tense moment in history that I, and many members of the game's community, will never forget.