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July 27, 2012 / marvinhawkins

Awesome Time To Be an Indie!

ImageSo it’s been a great couple of months. I am working on two titles that will be released commercially. I expanded my game jam group with awesome people. This is an exciting time in my personal ‘young’ indie game making career. Even more crazy are the number of avenues that have opened up for developers. Valve is working on a platform similar to Desura/Indie/ModDB. This platform will allow indies to get to those all important Steam gate keepers. Steam has decided to open up its decision making to fans, Redditt Style. While that’s going on, the Ouya became the latest Kickstarter Darling. It is somewhere between fever dream, and close to reality, indie centered console. Not to be outdone, Sony recently announced its Playstation Mobile program. 8 year old me only dreamed of the contents of my notebook appearing on the same consoles that I played. The crazy thing is, there is a lot of negativity surrounding these announcements. The Ouya could turn into a modern day Phantom system, Playstation, and Valves networks could become littered with fart apps, but I still think this is an exciting time to be an indie (or any game developer for that matter) Why?

Exposure Opportunities

The Xbox Live Indie Game platform has been much maligned as the red headed stepchild of the platform. Despite the lack of financial success, some of the most talented developers have gone on to bigger and better things. Breath of Death VII developer Zeboyd Games famously started off as an XBlIG developer. Having a passionate fan base no doubt helped them get onto Steam. Once there, they made more money in one week than in 2 years on Xbox. They have sense gone on to create the latest Penny Arcade Game. I’m not saying that this developer couldn’t have been easily discovered on say, an App store, but being on a console helped them hit their right audience. The point: cream rises to the top. Xblig, PSN, Steam, Amazon, all would benefit from a more curated network. But if that happens, game development would no longer be democratized, which is the point of those systems. Massage apps will exist, because people will look for a quick buck if they can. An awesome game will always get found.

 

But What About Discoverability?

Another comment I’ve seen pop up over and over is discoverability. That is to say, if you’re not in the top ten, you fail. That is a real problem for me. I think about this as I round my games into selling shape. Its not that comforting to know that most games barely make $50 bucks on app stores like the described. I believe that discovery of a game is not the responsibility of Microsoft, Playstation, Apple, Santa Clause, etc. It’s your own. My plan is to pimp my games anywhere legal. I’m not sure if this will work, but if it fails, that’s in line with the statistics right? Anything else is gravy. I realize that this doesn’t work if you have a company with employees.

I think that PR and Marketing could be huge. My thought process is: I’ve worked hard on these games, I need to make the world aware of it. I plan on reporting back, but marketing a UNIQUE game outside of the brutal sales floor of an iPad app store will hopefully be me saving grace. I think having a niche is helpful as well. 

Wonderful Time To Be Alive (And Making Game)

I think being an indie is definitely a test of endurance. I first got into this ‘scene’ in the early 2000s. My dream was simply to be featured on GameTunnel. Now, the options are seemingly limitless. Regardless of if it is Apple, or the Steam community, there will always be gate keepers. Because of things like Unity, Gamesalad, and C# (yes i mentioned them in the same sentence) game making has never been easier. That means that there are more bad games. That’s ok, if you have a good product people will find you. I would much rather compete with a ‘dating app or quiz’ than not be able to put my game out. I’m hoping to get past the ultimate gate keeper the paying customer. Best of luck everyone!

 

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