Proposal for “Investment Clubâ€￾ type Portal

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by Cartman, Apr 3, 2005.

  1. Cartman

    Indie Author

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    After a discussion with the NorthWest Indie group tonight I was encouraged to write up details of my proposal for a shared portal. The objective of this thread is to poke holes into the idea, and come up with viable solutions. Then see if it floats. Please add your comments, suggestions to this thread.

    The idea:

    Create a portal that is run similar to an Investment club. It would start with a few members who want to sell their games, but share the costs, and labor involved. The costs would include:
    • Server
    • Bandwidth
    • Software
    • Advertising
    • Sales Processing

    The labor would include:
    • Database administration.
    • Web Development
    • Accounting of sales to clients
    • Newsletters

    Each member of the group would have one vote on business decisions. They would meet once a month to discuss and decide on major issues. Officers would be elected to handle day to day aspects such as Support, Administration, Accounting, Web Development, Database Admin, etc.

    Each member would own shares much like an investment clubs. They could buy shares once a month(basically contribute moneys to the group) that would be used to pay for initial costs. No member of the group can own more than 20% of all the shares. They would be issued shares of the group. The amount of shares per dollar is determined with an accounting program and fluctuates based on current money on hand, revenues, etc. Shares could be issued for particular work done if the group wishes ( this would take care of having people in the group that don’t do anything after joining).

    As the portal sells games, it would accumulate a percentage of the sale. This would go into the bank account of the group. This money would be used to expand band width, buy new equipment for the portal, pay web costs, etc. And what’s left will increase the value of shares.

    A person could join the group if they were invited by the majority of the group. The group would have a cap of no more than 20 members. If they chose to be a member, they can accumulate shares in the group, participate in it’s decisions, and hold an office. If they don’t’ want to do this, they can become a client. The client gets a percentage of each sale of their own game, but doesn’t share in the profits from accumulated share value. This is basically the same as other portals. The hope is that the profit will be higher with our portal than another one since we are sharing costs and responsibilities. Therefore we can offer a higher percentage to the developer(client).

    If a member wishes to leave the group, they can be bought out (based on the number of shares they own and the current value of those shares) by individual members of the group, or by the group if they wish (if the cash is available in their account).

    I welcome discussion and comments on this topic.

    We currently have identified the following issues with the plan:
    Advantages
    • Reduced cost to the developers.
    • Profit sharing with the portals
    • Bigger presence that would draw more contacts for repeat business

    Disadvantages
    • Decisions would be ruled by a committee
    • Everyone would have to chip in.
    • You would be sharing your contacts with others in the portal.
     
  2. Pyabo

    Original Member

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    Two days and no comments? Are people tired of these threads already? Come on, we haven't seen nearly as many of those as "Does Adwords work?" or "What payment system should I use?"

    Personally, I like the idea of the indie portal, but I think it's going to take someone actually implementing it to prove all the nay-sayers wrong.

    The #1 issue I think is that some ONE is going to be doing all the work. That's just how it works... not everyone is going to participate to the same degree. Does that person get extra compensation? Are the rest of the members of this hypothetical group going to place enough TRUST in an administrator? Personally, I wouldn't mind handing over a few hundred dollars to someone doing the leg work on this and using it for web space, marketing, etc. But not everyone is as care-free with their funds.
     
  3. princec

    Indie Author

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    It's like, "ok - you do it". Until someone does... it's just beer talk in the pub. Better watch out all you'll end up on Curiosoft's elite ignore list.

    Cas :)
     
  4. John Rush

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    This is so promising and there is essentially no response. Having talked to Cartman about this in person, I think this has some real promise if the details can be ironed out.

    I can definately state that this would be one of the top items on my list if I commited myself to making games. There is just too much potential in this kind of arrangement to not spend time assessing the viability of this our other similar approaches.

    In my case, I feel I would be putting the cart before the horse at this point. But I am surprised at the lack of interest.
     
  5. Omega

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    This will not work, please don't even try. You couldn't even PAY me to deal with that for one day.. one month.. one year.. the following year...

    If you think a big site with a lot of games is what is needed to be successful, than go to regnow and add 100 games as an affiliate to a web site. Try to market that. Oh wait, you're back in square one.

    This is the worst plan I have heard of in my life. It is so detailed, that it is bad. Do you realize how much time it would take on the part of each member of this arrangement, who is an INDIE, and where would they get the time for that?

    Just because PrinceC bitches about it in every thread, doesn't mean that the portals are greedy and are worthless and not worth every penny.

    There are very few things that would be harder to manage than this. Even game development is easier than what you have suggested. The reason the portal model works is because it works. The portal looks out for its own interest, the developers for theirs. It's a checks and balances kind of a deal.
     
  6. digriz

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    Although, i don't fully agree with omega. The biggest problem that i can see is that there will be too many people having votes on important decisions. I once worked at a company that had just 4 owner "Directors" running the company and they could never agree on anything, so nothing got done easily.

    If you were to have this voting system for decisions; at least make sure there are an odd number of votes, this way you can always get a majority decision rather than a deadlock of equal votes.

    The overall idea, personally, i think has some merit. It'd be almost impossible to implement though. You would need one person to oversee it and i can't see most "indies" having time to do it. Especially as most developers are too busy trying to complete their games in their spare time.

    Also, the reality is that a lot of developers market and publish other developers games on their sites too, either through links or directly. I realise that this isn't exactly the same as a portal but it is a step nearer than most.

    I do think that a little more organisation and discussion between developers would mean we get less Arkanoid clones and a few more original titles. A more varied range of game designs. I know that a lot of developers make money from their breakout game but it seems to me that their already entering a saturated market. And no, it's not a dig at people doing those kind of games, i like breakquest, z-ball etc but as a customer i'd only buy one.

    I'm all for developers making more money from their products though!


    Just my $0.02 :D
     
  7. Omega

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    I don't know what part you disagree with then. I also agree/know that only one person must be in charge, I just didn't mention that in the post. So in that case, we agree on everything--that this plan is bad. Please don't spend your energy, Cartman. Get really 'fired up' and motivated because we are telling you that this plan is bad, and spend the energy that you would have spent putting your plan into action and failing, on marketing your games, instead.
     
    #7 Omega, Apr 5, 2005
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2005
  8. baegsi

    Original Member

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    Sorry to be another nay-sayer here. My 2c: most indies won't have time and interest to participate in anything that does not get their games finished. Especially, if you can not say what you intend in one or two sentences, as it is the case for this thread.

    No, someone has to implement it first and then he can ask to join. But who has the resources to do that?

    Since nobody can afford that, IMO best bet would be if someone (preferably a marketing expert) can attract some outside funding in form of sponsors or something similar and start from there.

    Creating a portal is nothing small, so you need something to start with. And if this portal should be any competitive, you have to start big.
     
  9. princec

    Indie Author

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    Can I just set the record straight here - I haven't bitched about the portals for a little while now and, crivens! - I've actually completely changed my mind about them! Or at least - some of them. Once aligned with my targets the portals make a lot of sense. Once free of the shackles of building a business and a customer base, selling games it turns out isn't so hard.

    Cas :)
     
  10. Cartman

    Indie Author

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    There are some valid concerns here and I'm just throwing the idea out here for comment. Ideas come from radical thoughts. :)

    Investment clubs are successful and take care of issues with who is in charge by voting for members each year. They also split up responsiblities. If a member is not pulling their weight, then they don't receive as much of the spoils. This can be done by giving shares to members that do more work or the ability of voting members out. Ties in voting are usually handled through a tie break by the President. Alot of these issues can be resolved through bylaws.

    However, I have noticed an achiles heals to this whole process. I don't think Indies like to work with others. I don't mean this negatively, just an observation. We all seem to like to do it our way, that's why most of us are lone wolfs in this scene. There are teams, but it seems like contracts are more popular than teams. This attitude may be the downfall of this idea. I've talked with members of this forum who have told me "if I do any of the work I want all the credit", which sounds pretty defeating for a group.

    Also, I keep hearing people mention that its too much work, however I see these same developers make their own site, spend their own time on marketing, etc. You can't tell me that these same efforts( and costs) applied to one port by 10 people is the same as each of them spending the time on their own site.
     
  11. howie

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    excuse my noobish question, but...

    what's a portal?
     
  12. Yossarian

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    I think the real reason is that most have figured out over the years that any scheme where you expect work for free, or the possibilities of money down the road, tends to fall apart REAL fast.

    How many large modding or game projects have you seen started with volunteer teams? How many have you seen released as complete games? Not very many. Very very few can survive the long term volunteer work model.

    Most of us have been in that boat where we are trying to get work done, but from volunteers or part timers. They don't have the dedication or time to generally deliver in any reasonable timeframe. On my previous projects, for example, I had a couple of guys really step up and deliver great stuff for me, but I was constantly waiting and having to prod and ask them when I'd get it. I also got into a position where I was promising work, but couldn't find the time, and I'm sure it annoyed them to end as well. I also had a half dozen people jump in at the beginning and say "Yeah, I'll do all sorts of stuff! Lets go, lets go!" Only to have them disappear a few weeks later with their parts of the project half done, or not even started.

    The result is that myself, and I think quite a few of the others here, are going to be distrusting of schemes that involve lots of work for a couple people and have no monetary reward, mixed with the possibility of it all going down the drain...

    Unfortunately, this idea still revolves too much around finding a couple people willing to dump in tons of their own time and expertise for zero return on the work. Meanwhile, it also has a dozen other devs not working at all, but complaining during meetings and voting for all sorts of crazy shit that only helps them out... Too many cheifs, not enough indians.
     

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