IGC'04 Impressions, Big Business, Big Money

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

  1. dfvdan

    Original Member

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    Totally agree. However, you still have to have something that's polished and able to capture interest - and more so than the rest. IMHO, that's just the way it works, some stuff get noticed for the above reasons and take off (word of mouth, reviews, etc.) and the rest doesn't.

    I'd say that goes for console games and movies as well. Take ALL movies and games and I'll bet that most don't make much money.
    You have to count all games (console or not) and movies (including low-budget indie efforts) as AAA console games and big budget movies are all part of regulated channels, which aren't really representative to this discussion.
    Had this been a regulated channel, 99% of us wouldn't be allowed to create games in the first place. ;)
     
  2. Jack Norton

    Indie Author

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    My experience so far is the opposite.
    UBM (very niche game) alone made 10x more than Spin Around & Quizland (both casual games)... :confused:
     
  3. Dan MacDonald

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    This thread has gotten a lot more activity then I at first expected. It's been very interesting to read different peoples perspectives on what is currently one of the hot issues in indie game development (and in retrospect has been for some time). There are pluses and minuses to putting your opinions out in public the way I sometimes do. One negative, and this one has bit me in the behind before, is a year or two down the road you change your perspective, but the Internet never forgets. One of the positives is that you get to have a lot of fun chatting with people about their own views on the topic. In doing so I've drawn some conclusions that I hadn't made when I originally posted the .plan on GarageGames.

    Yes it's true, the portals are coming and guys like Playfirst are here to gobble up IP and use it as leverage against the distribution channels much like retail. As in any situation there are positives and negatives, on the positive a new developer starting out may need some cash to launch their own indie business. A publisher like playfirst may offer them cash up front plus a few royalties to develop a title. Great, there's some startup cash for the developer. The flip side of course, if the game goes on to be a huge hit and makes way more then the initial cash payment well good luck, you wont be seeing any of it. If your lucky they might let you do the sequel. Some studios out there may try to make this a full time occupation like the retail studios do, I think that is still a recipe for frustration and failure.

    There is still a window of opportunity where you can work with the distribution channels like Real, Yahoo, and MSN directly without going through a Playfirst or any of the other IP sucking publishers that are soon to pop up.
    In these cases, if a new developer can leverage a distribution channel to get some extra exposure, even at the cost of some profits I'd say that there is still room to do this successfully without selling yourself up the river.

    For example, BraveTree published ThinkTanks via GarageGames and it was pimped out to just about every major online distribution channel out there. They got good exposure and a rabid fan base. Members of the community set up a fan site at www.planethinktanks.com. It doesn't matter where people buy the game, they always end up at www.planetthinktanks.com. Now if BraveTree was to release an expansion or even a sequel, one post on PTT.com would bring all those raving players directly to their site to buy the new stuff.

    The point here is, when you can create a recognizable brand for your software, that users recognize and you own that brand (or IP) then you really own the customer. BraveTree doesn't have to go to playfirst and pitch an expansion pack or a sequel, they can just sit down one day and decide to do it, because they own the IP. Also because of the player site they have access to all the rabid fans who bought the game through other channels. No w I realize not everyone can follow this recipe, but it proves the point that even if you give up a little profit for exposure, and brand building, you can still bring the customers back to you and sell to them directly.

    So in an ideal world you would own your own IP and sell directly to your own customers, but in this rugged competitive world that we inhabit - it's not necessarily a death sentence to leverage the distribution channels. Just make sure you never give up your IP ;)
     
  4. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    The one rule to remember is that there are no rules. UBM probably hit a niche that was underserved and struck a chord. Don't forget your other indie niche game USM didn't have the same luck.
     
  5. Gmicek

    Original Member

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    One of the main issues with USM was that it was trying to enter a market already well covered by the big boys.
     
  6. Jack Norton

    Indie Author

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    Yes indeed. USM wasn't particularly original and has strong competitors like Championship Manager series (very hard to beat...!).
    The Goalkeeper,while doesn't sell as good as UBM, is already doing better than USM, because I made a game based on another original idea (never seen a game focused on Goalkeeper).
    Is true also that with soccer game I cut out the whole USA market, that is more than 50% of UBM buyers... :eek:

    But what I wanted to say it's that there's NO general rule. There are too many factors. I think market research and a original idea can make a hit no matter what kind of game it is.
     

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