IGC'04 Impressions, Big Business, Big Money

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by Dan MacDonald, Oct 12, 2004.

  1. Anthony Flack

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    Hmm, most of the stuff on Yakyak about Platypus was people talking about how they didn't think it was very good! "It screams AMOS/STOS freeware".
     
  2. oNyx

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    Hey, I just wanted to point out that people *are* talking about your game and it was only "venusian" who said that stuff. Matt is most likely your biggest fan. And there weren't any other negative comments. I mean... it's not like everyone will like your game.

    ---

    Back on topic. I think an amazon-ish database thing would be nice. "Other people who liked this also liked this" etc. Over at the off topic board someone posted a link to a related (imo pretty interesting) article.

    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html
     
  3. Jack Norton

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    Hmm you need to define "a game that sell well". To me, average of 30 sales month at 24.95$ is good. Sure not exceptional, but from one game... :)

    Yes that's what we should really do. I put for first time some affiliate games on my frontpage but they aren't really fit for my market. I recently did a links exchange with cliffsky and put his game on my site on secondary page (maybe I'll put it in frontpage!).
    So if you want to start this thing, I'd be happy to :)
     
  4. svero

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    For me good sales is 10-20 copies a day. 5-10 decent 3-5 acceptable. And less than that it's a flop.
     
  5. EpicBoy

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    That seems vastly unrealistic for 99.99999% of indies.
     
  6. adhominem

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    Hello all, I'm one of the founders and creative director of PopCap... a long-time lurker here but first-time poster.

    In answer to the questions someone had about us doing an RPG called PopQuest... it's still under way. RPGs just take a loooong time, as anyone who's worked on one will likely tell you.

    We are actually working on a couple other things that are a bit outside of our usual puzzle game genre, including a fairly violent side-scrolling shoot-em-up. How will these games do comparatively? No one can say for sure, but we have had success with some other unusual games outside of the match-3 puzzle genre... eg most recently Insaniquarium, which is a fairly weird and unique cross of genres.

    That said, we're also finishing up Bejeweled 2, a pretty safe commercial bet.

    I think there are a number of people doing pretty well with fairly hardcore niche games... Dominions 2, Combat Mission, X-Plane, Laser Squad Nemesis, Spidersoft RPGs, for instance. But the audience for something like Dominions 2 is obviously very different from the audience for Bejeweled 2... a much smaller crowd, certainly, but one that is probably more dedicated and willing to overlook issues with interfaces, graphics, or even cost.

    The big portals like Real, Yahoo, MSN, etc, are by nature mass market, reaching a broad cross-section of people, and so naturally focus on mass market games. Real has little incentive to spend its bandwidth promoting a game like Dominions 2, because they know that only a tiny fraction of their audience will be interested in it. Shrapnel, on the other hand, has a much smaller audience than Real, but they're all definitely interested in hardcore wargames.

    Mass market portals want mass market games, just as cineplex chains want Hollywood blockbusters that appeal to a large number of people. But that doesn't mean that arthouse theatres can't survive, or that independent films can't be made, or that there won't be occasional crossover hits of the Big Fat Greek Wedding sort... it just means that in the shareware /casual /downloadable game business, as in any other business, you have to know your market. If you're doing simple puzzle games in the bubble-popper genre, they had better not be 20 megabyte downloads with inpenetrable interfaces, dark, ugly graphics, and a $49.95 price tag, for instance.

    That said... I know that I personally would love to see some kind of "hardcore casual" site dedicated to broad, comprehensive, independent and timely reviews of new casual and quasi-casual games. There are a few places out there that do reviews and the like sporadically, but none that really feel like a reliable standard, as of yet. Anyone got casualgamer.com?
     
  7. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Well say you work 1 yr on a game. And now you put it out for sale while you spend another year developing a 2nd game. How much do you need to live? If you're not making 3-5k a month at least how can your company survive? You've got to do it part time or look for another job. So I don't think it's totally unrealistic. I think it's probably a little more than fair and quite likely 3-5k is not enough to live off of after paying your company expenses and taxes. If you're a one man shop you might squeak by. How many copies is 3k? at least 200 copies or roughtly 6 copies a day.
     
  8. Diragor

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    I don't think anyone's arguing with you about how much is necessary to make a comfortable living, svero, but that doesn't mean it's realistic to expect to make that much anytime soon as a new indie developer.

    I'd also like to interject here about the analogies to the movie and music industries. Indie game developers (talking shareware on the 'net, not retail) have it WAY easier than indie movie and music makers. The big boys in those fields almost completely control the major distribution channels (movie theaters and record stores) and the primary advertising methods in those fields are either industry-controlled (radio) or prohibitively expensive (TV ads) so indies are shut out. There's a lot starting to happen on the internet in those fields so things are changing, but they're not quite there yet. On the other hand, the internet is the primary distribution point and advertising channel for indie games. Nobody controls it and it's not that expensive. An indie game developer generally doesn't need a crew or outrageously expensive equipment or a special location in which to work. You can finish and sell a product without going full time or investing major money. Even a trickle of game sales is at least some extra money, whereas for musicians and movie makers you generally start out far in the hole and just pray to make back a portion of the costs.

    Make the leap to publishing a retail game and it's a different story, but indie shareware game (or other software) developers don't have it so bad. Keep the faith and look on the bright side. :D
     
  9. Anthony Flack

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    Mm, yes, indie movie and music makers usually expect to operate at a net loss for many years, if not forever. Of course in such situations it's really necessary to be working on a project you truly believe in.

    Nothing is more depressing than making a net loss when you're trying to sell out, eh?
     
  10. Jack Norton

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    He was saying that for a new indie that figures are absolutely out of reach and I agree. They're out of reach even for lot of veterans I think.
    No one will make a game that sell 20/day from his site alone (that's what we were talking, not using big portals)...
    20 a day is 600 sales / month!!! :eek:
    I know no game that sells so much from author's website (even considering affiliates)...!
    at least, to my knowledge :)
     
  11. SunAndGames

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    How about Dweep, Pretty Good Solitare, Pocket Tanks, Snood . . . probably a bunch more
     
  12. Jack Norton

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    I have doubts on some of them, but won't tell which ones ;)
    Anyway you are right, there are some that could sell so much (of course only from established developers in the business from 4+ years), but what percentage of total indie games ? I bet is close to 0,01%... :(
     
  13. KNau

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    That may be true. My thinking lately is, why focus so much on on-line sales at all? We are all still buying into the "Make $10,000 a month on shareware" hype that the internet is the be all and end all of shareware sales. It's not!

    As the net becomes less and less relevant for shareware developers I think that alternative retail outlets may be the answer. Look at examples like Garage Developer International who publish indie games and compilation CDs from their storefront operation. It's not their primary business but it generates revenue.

    Another example; I have been developing a "zombie shooter" game as my backburner project. Last week I was browsing my local comic book store looking for the latest issues of Remains and The Walking Dead (I'm a zombie freak) when I stumbled across a board game called "Zombies!!!" from Twilight Creations. I bought the game, curious to see how their design of a zombie survival game differed from mine. I was immediately hooked and went back a couple days later to buy all 4 expansion packs at $20 - $30 dollars each!

    If guys like Twilight Creations and Cheapass Games can survive and make a living through distributing their board games to hobby shops and comic book stores, why can't a shareware developer with similarly themed products? They have to contract the printing of cards, boards, boxes and game pieces - all we have to do is dupe CDs.

    My point is, why rely so heavily on an internet only business when it seems like only 1% of the people get 99% of the sales? There must be other ways to get our games out there.

    P.S. If you like zombie movies go buy the Zombies!!! game now. And read the comic book Remains. The Walking Dead is good but Remains is better :) www.twilightcreationsinc.com
     
  14. Greg Squire

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    Again I think a lot of it boils down to “Exposureâ€￾ (and having a good game of course). I agree it’s harder for a new indie (like me) to get established nowadays. It may be that we have to do business with portals and/or publishers in order to get our name established. We may have to make a “throw-awayâ€￾ title (as it was often called in the retail space) in trade for some name recognition, to build our business. Further, I also think there are yet a lot of creative ways to get the “marketing ball rollingâ€￾, that most haven’t tried yet. Sometimes doing something “out-of-ordinaryâ€￾ is the best way to get noticed. Don’t do what the big boys and all the other “lemmingsâ€￾ are doing (no offense to anyone intended here). You have to stand out of the crowd sometimes; not easy to do, but often needed. (Of course it would have to be something that would get you noticed by lots of people.)

    I hope that all of you aren’t falling into despair over the things that have been said. I tend to be a “realistâ€￾ in my thinking, but I still think it’s possible to “make a go of itâ€￾. I think I better understand some of the hurdles to be overcome now. Hopefully I can now plan for that better. I don’t expect to get rich doing this; my highest hope is to make just enough to support my family (full-time) with this. I know that may take years to achieve. “Chin up boys!â€￾
     
  15. svero

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    There are games that do 10-20 a day on a regular basis from various people's non-portal websites. I know of many.
     
  16. Jack Norton

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    Hmm ok, better stop writing and going back to improve my games... :D
     
  17. dfvdan

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    This is in no way directed towards anyone specific, no offense intended. However, my impression when looking at the current "indie" market is that many games doesn't impress me much (nothing new, not polished etc.), and I am probably a pretty normal gamer. As such I'd expect that the few who gets everything right gets the majority of the sales. :)

    In the end, I think very few customers care whether a game is an "indie" game or an AAA title. People want bang for the buck in some way, and you have to make very sure you're delivering the biggest bang in your niche. :)

    Again, I'm a long-time lurker and have yet to release my first game (soon done after 12 months). So take my view for what it's worth.
     
  18. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    It's true there's not a lot of grounbreaking stuff, but then the same could be said of movies, console game, etc... etc... etc... Few games are going to be really oustanding and special. There are plenty of games in the latter category that are making a lot of money. In fact sales these days seem to favor less orginal and less impressive games to some extent. A 1 month bejeweled clone can make you more money than a 1 yr piece of art.
     
  19. princec

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    Don't I know it :mad: :mad: :mad:

    Cas :)
     
  20. EpicBoy

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    I found that as well. The first game I did, a cheapo bubblet clone, by FAR made the most money.
     

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