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Making money on Indie Games (or how I learned NOT to do what I wanted)

04 August on Blogs  

The siren's call of Indie Videogame Development has been ringing loudly lately, with stars like Braid on everyone's mind as a new viable commercial model... which in this age of App Stores and Live Arcades seem like the hot new fad - but there are so many variables that people who want to take the "indie plunge" forget that scares me.

And thus comes the article I've been waiting for. Jeff Ward did this incredible piece that really breaks down into the numbers - and not to my surprise, you still need to move many tens of thousands to be able to break even on an indie game. And with everybody flocking to those, competition is not only fierce, but in some cases makes it hard to even get a chance to be listed (seeing as services such as WiiWare are very picky about letting people in).

But my point in all of this is that I believe a new mindset is needed by this crowd. A lot of people are equating "indie development" with "doing as I please". Yes, the experimental appeal is undeniable and possibly one big advantage, but you can't see yourself as the auteur of cinema - I assume these game creators are still out to make money at the end of the day, and thus have to very much mind the realities of a very harsh market.

Don't get me wrong, being passionate about your product can make all the difference. But if you don't heed the expectations of your consumer, the market climate and so many other variables, you will inevitably end with money down the drain and a potentially unfinished product. And it's not impossible to cater to the audience and still implement that wonderful idea you came up with in the shower. But it takes as much planning as it takes programming. Never forget that.

Author, freelance videogame journalist, cinematography major and a little insane.

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