Every so often when taking a break from working on my own games I like to kick back and play some games on my own. The question comes up as to where the best place to go to find the sort of games I like would be.
If I wanted mass-produced commercial games, the choice is easy. Just drop into a few stores, read a few gaming mags, and track down a few demos to the games that seem interesting. However, most of the time I tend to prefer offbeat and unusual ideas from people similar to myself. ie. Indie games. The question is where to start looking.
There are no shortage of sites to visit to find indie games. Heck, they're all over the place. However, if I am going to fork out money for a game, I'd rather the bulk of it go to the developer, not someone who has set themselves up as a middleman for a healthy cut of the sales. Heck, I've heard portals will swallow around 70% of the purchase price of some indie games, and I'm left questioning what sort of service they provide to me that warrants that kind of cut. I'm already out looking for a game and fully prepared to try out a bunch of demos, the last thing I want is for the selection to be prefiltered to the developers who have accepted poor terms for their games in order to make a few more sales. I understand fully why people do it- I don't want to start a debate on portals. I'd just rather most of my money go to the developer directly. I don't mind a cut going to payment processors, at least they provide a service that is convenient to both the buyer and seller. But otherwise, I want indies to get the bulk of it.
There are other sites that don't take a cut directly, but still charge you for priority listing fees, or make things inconvenient for developers unless they pay a priority processing charge. Sometimes the terms are so bad that you're effectively forced to pay a fee to even get your game seen. Advertising works too- and admittedly isn't so bad when the adverts are for games listed on the site. I understand that it takes money to run such a site, and there will always need to be some form of income to keep things going. But there needs to be a balance. You don't need to rip developers off to fund a site.
I'm wondering where the best places to go to look for indie games are that simultaneously satisfy my desire to try out a bundle of demos and buy my favourites whilst making sure the bulk of the purchase price goes straight to the developer. Something that is simple for the developer to submit games to without onerous restrictions, branding, or insisting on a cut of sales. A site that gleefully lists the developers homepages rather than trying to keep viewers locked into one site. I want the exact game the developer intended: no portal logos jammed into the game. I can hack a little advertising and priority placement to keep the site alive, but I don't want to frequent a site that treats indies badly. It doesn't have to be a complex site, or one with a tonne of features. Something simple is fine. Heck, I'd just love one big list of games, descriptions, and download links!
Presently I tend to check out GameTrove (even though my own game suite is doing badly there!) and click on the signatures in the forums here when I'm out searching for a game to buy. But where else is a good place to go to try out games with extremely favourable terms to indie developers? What does everyone recommend?
I mean no ill will or rudeness and sincerely wish you the very best of luck with your site. Having said that, I am left with the feeling that it really misses many of the criteria I listed. I'm having no trouble finding game portals, really! There are plenty out there. I think it's great you have a dedicated RPG/Strategy portal. Again, having said that, I'm after a particular type of site, the details painstakingly detailed in my first post.
Are there many out there?
Without wishing to promise too much, TunaSnax is hopefully going to be of interest to you as some of your comments match my own thoughts, however we affiliate so bare that in mind. Buying from the developer direct will always see them getting the most money.
We're spending a lot of time trying to create a place you can find the best indie and casual games without being swamped, and in a nice, friendly manner. Saying that, we're not just throwing up loads of titles, we're being very selective as we just want the genuinely really good ones (which aren't that common in all honesty, at least not as far as Joe Gamer is concerned).
If you visit www.tunasnax.com you can add your email address to our interest list. I'll say more when the site is live and ready to be beta tested. Sometime in Q1 this year!
A few people here have seen mock-ups and we've had a good response to our feature list - there's something for people who just want to quickly find decent indie and/or casual games [I'm not going to argue the "definitions" here, but we do differentiate in some cases], and also some nice features for members who are a little more into their gaming.
However, if you want a big selection of indie titles, then the sites already mentioned here are your best bet. GameTrove and GameTunnel are great for finding downloadable games but as I said, they are of varying quality. You also have Kongregate (online versions of games) and the Great Games Experiment from Garage Games.
EDIT: There's also Manifesto. And as regards dev revenue compared to buying from a homepage: Buying from a direct affiliate usually cuts the dev revenue by 30-40%, buying from a well priced portal/portal affiliate cuts rev by approx 55-60%, and from many portals cuts rev by 70% or more. They do, however, pull in way more traffic than your homepage will in the vast majority of cases and it takes a lot of money to do that. Now we're involved in creating a site, there's a hell of a lot more work involved than people realise (at first I had thought that, like you, that they did little for their money - still true in some cases, but not most of the successful sites).
Rereading your post, pjio and kongregate are worth a look as the revenue terms are interesting (advertising/game click through - they still earn off each game though), but otherwise GameTrove.
However, you're a little harsh on developer affiliates and portals. Writing a game is only half the job, selling it is the other half. It doesn't come for free, and in some cases is more work than writing the game in the first place. Free sites such as GameTrove have great dev terms, but there's an obvious downside too. Great dev terms but low sales equals low revenue.
Last edited by sillytuna; 01-04-2007 at 01:52 AM.
First of all, best of luck with TunaSnax.
The perspective I am approaching from is as someone who knows he wants to buy an indie game of some sort, and is looking for a good spot to find them. I have $x to spend, and I'd like to get y hours of entertainment from it. From this perspective, I'm not interested in a flashy site that tries to keep me from the developer or someone to convince me that I should buy a game. I've already decided to purchase a game, I'm just not sure which one yet. Affiliates and portals (can) do a lot of promotion, advertising, and work to generate additional sales for a product. That's great. However, as a purchaser who has already decided to buy something, I am not one of these people remaining to be convinced. I'm already there. I'm wanting to be part of the base sales for a product, not the extra sales that developers sign up for portals and affiliates to make. I don't even want a discount for going straight to the developer. I just want more of my money in their pocket. Trust me, the affiliates and portals will survive without my contribution. On the other hand, I've heard too many stories of struggling developers...
With all of this in mind, I pondered to myself: As someone who has already decided that he'd like to buy, and not pay for additional services he won't use, where does one go? I can't be the only one who thinks this. I came up with only two places to go: GameTrove for Windows games, and Fresh Meat for Linux software. Figuring I must be wrong, I went to the source... surely all the indie developers out there have some favourite sites that they use that are easy to list on and keep their hands off the proceeds. The responses have been interesting... of the sites listed, how many allow easy developer uploads and don't go for a cut of the sales? Not too many. The people behind these sites are no doubt doing a fantastic job promoting their sites, and best of luck to them. However, the answers seem to suggest that I am asking a more difficult question than I realised.
Or is the topic genuinely taboo? I haven't been posting here very long, but I'm noticing that a few of the people who have seem to be behind or associated with various affiliate sites and portals _have_ been here and posting much longer than I have. Is asking this sort of question a faux pas on order with walking into a room full of composers and asking "so where do I go to get some peace and quiet around here"? If so, I apologise, and hope you understand the reason for my particular perspective.
I think it's all very valid mate although I think you'll find pretty much everything appears on GameTrove/TIG so am not sure you need much else. If you want the developer to earn the cash, Google the game and developer name [if you know it].
BTW The easier the submission process, the higher the c**p quotient. I think a combo of GameTrove, Pijo/Kongregate, and GGE is your best bet. They all have their own ranking systems of course.
I find that the GameTunnel monthly round-ups as well as their game of the year awards does well to inform me of various indie releases that are around - Screenshot, quick synopsis - if it looks interesting I'll shoot off to the developers site. Pretty well done if you ask me.
Tiny Frog Software <- Play Caverns of Underkeep a free browser based roguelike!