Questions for people who have succeded in building an indie business

Discussion in 'Indie Basics' started by endasil, Jan 29, 2006.

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  1. endasil

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    Hello! I have a couple of questions for you people who have succeded with starting up a indie business and now making a profit out of it. Hope you can offer a couple of minutes of your time in helping a curious one. :)

    How many people were you when you started the company?

    How long have you been selling games?

    On average, how much time do you spend developing each game?

    What do you consider important to think about when starting up a game development company?

    What methods have you used to make people aware of your site and games?

    How many games did you sell per week during the first three months of your business?

    How many games do you sell per week now?

    What is the download / buy ratio? In other words how many of those who download your demo actually buys them?


    Anything else you would like to add?
     
  2. Robert Cummings

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    I would like to point out that you are attempting to create a yardstick from sand. You can't create averages or comparisons as there is no one single indie business model.

    My personal way of doing this is creating a set of realistic goals which I intend to earn a living from. If your goal is determining if you can make a living from this then my answer is keep the day job and see how it goes. It will either take over or it won't.
     
  3. soniCron

    Indie Author

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    I thought the first response to this would be something along those lines.

    I also considered that it's impossible to make a set of realistic goals when you have no idea what is realistic to begin with. It's balderdash to build any plans off wild guessing and fantasizing. In short, and in response to those that think that sales data doesn't matter: Why does it matter in every other industry? Your mileage may vary, but at least you've got an idea what progress other players in the same market have made.

    To insinuate that sales data is worthless is a silly fantasy.

    EDIT: This wasn't directed at you, Robert. I appologize if it came across that way. :)
     
  4. Tom Cain

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    I've had these same questions myself.

    How long have you been selling games?
    8 years.

    On average, how much time do you spend developing each game?
    1 year for version 1.0, plus ongoing upgrades.

    What do you consider important to think about when starting up a game development company?
    Cash flow. Profits can come with time, cash flow keeps you alive. This is true of any company that looks long term.

    What methods have you used to make people aware of your site and games?
    Build your product after you've developed a marketing strategy and adapt said product accordingly. If you don't know marketing strategy at all, books by Jack Trout, Al Ries, and Seth Godin are easy to digest and give a good overview. It is getting harder to build cash flow with the standard laundry list of tactics.

    How many games did you sell per week during the first three months of your business?
    Not many.

    How many games do you sell per week now?
    A lot more.

    What is the download / buy ratio? In other words how many of those who download your demo actually buys them?
    1-2%
     
  5. ggambett

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    How many people were you when you started the company?
    Three.

    How long have you been selling games?
    2 and a half years.

    On average, how much time do you spend developing each game?
    An actual average gives 5 months. We've had 1-month and 10-month projects though.

    What do you consider important to think about when starting up a game development company?
    Be top talent and love games. Work with top talent who love games. Make an all-out attempt - don't compromise for mediocrity.

    What methods have you used to make people aware of your site and games?
    Listing in every download site out there, not listening to portal haters. It's business.

    How many games did you sell per week during the first three months of your business?
    That's confidential.

    How many games do you sell per week now?
    That's confidential.

    What is the download / buy ratio? In other words how many of those who download your demo actually buys them?
    Varies on the game, around 1%.

    Anything else you would like to add?
    Advice from people with no experience and no completed games should be ignored or taken with a HUGE grain of salt.
     
  6. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    How many people were you when you started the company?
    Two

    How long have you been selling games?
    6-7 yrs

    On average, how much time do you spend developing each game?
    6 months - 1 year

    What do you consider important to think about when starting up a game development company?
    Know ahead of time how you will market and sell the games. Don't create something you haven't got the money or ability to market.

    What methods have you used to make people aware of your site and games?
    Demos, Freeware, webgames, advertising, strategic partnerships, affiliation

    How many games did you sell per week during the first three months of your business?
    How many games do you sell per week now?
    My first game sold around 30-40 copies a month when I first released it. That's not really very relevant though since the market was completely different back then. As for now.. varies quite a bit month to month but as with the others im not posting actual figures in public for a various reasons.

    What is the download / buy ratio? In other words how many of those who download your demo actually buys them?
    Varies quite a bit... but I've seen monthly averages anywhere from .1% to 10%

    - S
     
  7. Robert Cummings

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    Sounds like I was right on the mark then.
     
  8. d000hg

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    I'm interested why people don't like to share their sales figures. Is this because you're not paying any tax?!

    While it may not be useful to know the answers to these questions, it is certainly VERY interesting.
     
  9. Ricardo Vladimiro

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    They may have NDAs with the portals for instance, so saying there numbers for site selling would not be of value.

    Maybe they are not interested in saying it anyway. They don't have too.
     
  10. smiles

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    I'm interested why people don't like to share their sales figures. Is this because you're not paying any tax?!

    My mom always said not to talk about money.... :)

    I would think it would either go one of two ways:

    1. The money is less than you think, and it would be embarrassing
    2. The money equal or more than you think, and the person may seem like they are bragging, and also they would have to always live up to those numbers...
     
  11. Savant

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    This is the best advice. Ever. :)
     
  12. Sirrus

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    Technically speaking, shouldn't it be a tiny grain of salt? Otherwise, its almost like saying 'jumbo shrimp' :)
     
  13. Ricardo Vladimiro

    Indie Author

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    Just an honest question: finished games as in finishing a game, or finished games as in finished and published?
     
  14. Savant

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    Finishing a game gives you credibility to comment on game development. Releasing/selling it gives you credibility to talk about marketing/advertising.
     
  15. Ricardo Vladimiro

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    Ok. Just asked because it sounded a bit elistist, maybe because I haven't published a game. Thank you for your answer.
     
  16. Savant

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    It's a little elitest, but it's also realistic. There are a lot of people willing to give you lots of advice out there - the trouble is, only a small fraction are actually speaking from a position of real world experience. It's important to be able to quickly discern who is worth listening to and who isn't.
     
  17. Ricardo Vladimiro

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    Sure Savant I understand that. Felt a bit touchy with the way it was being said. It's not secret that I haven't published a game, but I've been working hard to get something done and have been investing and taking good advice from experienced people... most of the advices are similar to almost everything that is discussed here. Although involved in game dev for a long time, I'm only taking it seriously and as a personal project for the past six months give or take...

    So when I say something I'm trying to help and I felt my opinion had no value because I had no published games.

    But no worries... I see what you mean and I agree to some point, but I guess it's easier to see who is honestly trying to help and confront several points of view, then to say someone's opinion is not valid given a certain condition.
     
  18. d000hg

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    I'm not as interested in the $$$ being earned as the number of sales. I'd be just as happy to know the number of demo downloads you get per month - to know what kind of traffic and notoriety you've managed to develop.
     
  19. Pogacha

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    An advice from someone that is finishing his first game and never publish a game : it's 3 or 4 times harder than you thought at the beggining, maybe someone who have published a game could share that info with more acuracy. Salt for me please ...
     
  20. ggambett

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Ricardo, I think this quote explains my position :
    I meant something more like "finished and published". It's easy to declare a game "done" - just make an ugly Tetris or Pacman clone and you have "made a game". I've been doing that since I was 10 years old, but that's not what I'm talking about. I meant "finish a game who other people find sellable". I agree with Pogacha here, it's 3 or 4 times harder than you think, and it's a very valuable learning experience.

    It's amazing how much can a game be improved after you consider it done - our current game was "finished" in mid-november, I think, but the publisher that picked it up suggested many improvements - they were right, the game is a lot better today than it was 2,5 months ago - and will release it in february.

    So... I don't think there's a substitute to the experience of making a game with "good enough to be sold" quality.
     
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