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Finances

#270502 Posted on 2023-10-09 11:44:15

It's come to my attention that something I wrote in the "An Announcement" news post has made some of you very concerned, as if EV is shutting down very soon.  I didn't intend to cause a panic, so I'm sorry.

Eliza has suggested that I release some financials to help put minds at rest about the game's life.

Equiverse will NOT be closing unless it hits a certain threshold of low income.

We are stopping development because it cannot feasibly support new development, art, etc.  It can still support its hosting, domain and other service fees for the time being - even more so after ceasing development.

Current Expenses
These are listed in both yearly and monthly amounts.  Some payments are yearly, but I have worked out the approximate monthly amount, and some payments are actually monthly - for consistency I have converted these to a yearly amount as well so there is a direct comparison for each cost.

Hosting $984 / year ($82 / month)
Domain - Equiverse.com $36.19 / year ($3.02 / month)
Domain - Equiverse.org $25.40 / year ($2.12 / month)
Domain - Equiversebeta.com $22.87 / year ($1.91 / month)
Services (support emails, automatic emails, etc) $540 / year ($45 / month)
Accounting $575 / year ($47.92 / month)

TOTAL $2,183.64 / year ($181.97 / month)

We are lucky to share a server with a handful of other websites, so we don't pay the full server costs.  I can probably drop Equiversebeta.com once that reaches its expiry, though it would be nice to keep and is less than $2/mo - small in the grand scheme of things.

Former Expenses
To provide some more clarity on the decision, the fees we've cut since choosing no-development:

Admin $3,300 / year ($275 / month)
Programming* $20 / hour (~$120-200 / update)

*A note on Programming fees.  I hired a coder 6 years ago to help with development for EV, he set a fee of $20/hr then and has never asked for an increase.  He has worked on other projects alongside.  He has been accepting of the decision to cease development as he has wanted to streamline his work for a while, and $20/hr is no longer a reasonable hourly fee for the work involved - it would be looking at least doubling this for anyone else now.  So while it's listed as $20/hr above, that is just what we were paying, not what it would cost going forward.

Programming can't realistically be only 2-3 hours per month, it's usually 5-6 hours at least for a reasonably small update.  So a bare minimum previously of $100-120 for an update, now that would likely be closer to $200.

Art is its own range of fees, the most recent invoices have been:

$30 - 6 markings (Roan update)
$40 - Overo and tovero markings on the Chinocteague, Mustang, Shetland Pony, and Tennessee Walking Horse
$25 - 5 markings
$150 - Grade Horse

Hopefully you can see by this that we still have a way to go before we're in trouble.  The game is currently earning roughly $550-600 per month; we have some good months and some slower months, but we pool around that.

Will the excess income be available to pay for EV's servers in the future?
Yes and no.  As a business I need to report income on a yearly basis, and currently within the UK I pay 20% Corporation Tax on any profit (anything after expenses listed above).  At least 20% of what is left over will be going towards that, but that can change depending on the government's legislation.

Some of the excess also goes towards various additional fees, such as server maintenance when it's required.  One off emergency fees like this are rare, but it's good to have some backup funds for when it's needed.

Why are you stopping development and game support if income is still okay?
Income is still more than fine for running costs alone.  Paying for an admin and development caused us to go into the red for a couple of months.  Development can't realistically happen without an admin to oversee.  Keeping an admin on alone for support has sometimes stretched income a bit thin - and that's without addressing that $275/mo is realistically not enough for the work expected of the role.

***

I hope that helps put some fears to rest, I have no intentions of closing EV down in the near future assuming the income stays well above these basic levels, which currently it seems to be doing just fine.

I will try to answer any questions in the comments below.


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#270505 Posted on 2023-10-09 12:16:33

so ~$200 a month to keep the game running? challenge accepted :p

but in seriousness thanks for the explanation. it's good to know things will be okay for now and also it's nice to see how things work behind the scenes. if the current income is already enough to easily cover costs then i can breathe a lot easier lol.

can i ask when it started becoming clear that development could no longer be supported? i know EV's been declining for a while, long before before i joined probably. but i'm just curious when it got past the point of no return, no worries if that's not something i should be asking though.


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#270506 Posted on 2023-10-09 12:30:03

Yes, I agree. Thank you very much for clarifying. I misunderstood the news post and thought the game was in pretty dire financial trouble in regard to being able to maintain itself for a while.

Have you considered finding a volunteer administrator with web browser game experience that could help maintain things? Not to create new features or anything of the sort, but simply to keep things running without the financial strain and address minor bugs here and there as they have the time to? Or I suppose the appropriate question would be if you would be open to the idea?


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#270507 Posted on 2023-10-09 12:53:53

Thanks for clearing some things up for us, Abbey! And I think -at least for me- knowing the game will still stay online and be running I'd still buy my EVC from time to time.

As spoken about in the Discord channel, when funds do run low to keep the game online some day, I completely wouldn't mind small announcements like; "to keep the server online for another year we need x amount to still come in." Like 6, 3 and 1 month for renewal for instance.


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#270508 Posted on 2023-10-09 13:07:58

coming back in to say, both advertising the game on other sites and running ads on the site itself to bring in more funds have been brought up. while personally i would not mind seeing ads on-site if it helps keep things online, i know there's a lot of complications that come with running them. and i would assume advertising would just eat into income more if it wasn't immediately effective. were either of those options things that were already considered?


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#270509 Posted on 2023-10-09 14:12:23

This has helped put my mind at ease and I'm not quite as worried as I was before. 

If EV ever does become very profitable again, so regularly grossing $2-3k a month would active development continue back up at that time? Or for sure all development has stopped for EV's future?


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#270510 Posted on 2023-10-09 14:14:08

Okay, I'm feeling so much better. 😌 

I'm excited about being able to have Equiverse for a long time to come! 💜💜💜💜 Next time I get paid; will get some more credits. 


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#270511 Posted on 2023-10-10 01:38:37

Can I ask when it started becoming clear that development could no longer be supported?

EV's income has been slowly declining over the past 6 years, this year it hit the red (more expenses than income) in three separate months.  Combined with my own lack of time to give the game the attention it needed, it felt like it was the right decision to make.


Have you considered finding a volunteer administrator with web browser game experience that could help maintain things?  Or I suppose the appropriate question would be if you would be open to the idea?

I had considered it - a few things come to mind from a long term point of view.  Volunteer staff are amazing people, but they can also disappear without notice and abandon their work.  This is reasonable, there's no financial incentive to keep going - but it could throw even more uncertainty into the mix.  It would potentially also create a scenario where every few months I'm trying to recruit a new admin - something for which I just don't have the time.  I also really don't have time to guide/train someone new, especially if it's then going to be a temporary role which will be repeated often.

I realise a lot of this is based on assumptions, and particularly assuming the worst, but this does come with a lot of past experiences.


Advertising both on the game for revenue, and to advertise the game itself - were either of those options things that were already considered?

Advertising on the game itself has led to issues.  I used to have Google ads placed - they were intended to be unintrusive.  We would get complaints that there were popup ads or ads that were scams, and no matter how much I tweaked the settings of the ads it would always seem to cause problems.

Advertising Equiverse is a cost that the game can't afford beyond a few adsense dollars, or a small facebook campaign.  I also don't really have the time to manage it, so I feel that any money spent on advertising would be wasted.  We certainly don't have enough funding to hire someone to do it.


If EV ever does become very profitable again, so regularly grossing $2-3k a month would active development continue back up at that time? Or for sure all development has stopped for EV's future?

Potentially.  I'll never say no, but the fact is that it has never earned $3k a month.  The most the game has earned in a single year is just under $24k, but that was around 6-7 years ago at this point.


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#270512 Posted on 2023-10-10 05:09:13

We can do this Abbey! I know we can keep the game alive!!! ALSO $200/m.o. is not expensive to keep the game alive! I hope this game NEVER EVER DIES! I hope this game will live on forever! Also, we will need a new moderator!


With Love,
Miss O.K.R. 
10/10/23 @ 8:08 am 

Sent from My 2023 Lenovo 500E 2-in-1 Chromebook w/ stylus


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#270513 Posted on 2023-10-10 08:47:45

Really appreciate the transparency! It certainly does put my mind at ease to know the site isn't just going to disappear in a couple months. I'll continue to support financially whenever I can, and if ever in the future you decide to hold a fundraiser for advertisement or something, I would absolutely donate. 


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#270515 Posted on 2023-10-10 11:15:04

Yes, INDEED!, Aero!!! You could support the game's financial part! This game has been alive for 18 years and anyone and EVERY SINGLE ONE of us can support it financially! Let's also hope we can get a new Mod since River has stepped down from their moderating position!


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#270516 Posted on 2023-10-10 11:15:15

This is really comforting, thank you♥

 I do have one question: What's the difference between equiverse.com and equiverse.org? I heard that during the recode(I think) EV was changed from .org to .com, so why is equiverse.org an expense?

(sorry if this is a dumb question, I know very little about website hosting and such)


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#270517 Posted on 2023-10-10 11:17:04

Pretty much the same website


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#270518 Posted on 2023-10-10 12:08:04

What's the difference between equiverse.com and equiverse.org? I heard that during the recode(I think) EV was changed from .org to .com, so why is equiverse.org an expense?

There is no difference, .org was just the original domain we could get hold of until the previous owner of .com sold it to us.  I keep the domain active so that any really older players who only remember .org can still be redirected to .com.  I hope that helps explain why it's still on there.


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#270519 Posted on 2023-10-10 12:37:21

@Oscar Kat's Rescue
I just want to clear up that River is still a moderator so there is no need to fill that spot. The admin role is what has been removed as there is no room for development, so there is no role to fill currently.


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