Friday, February 4, 2011


Let's be honest.

Lots of people want to do their hobbies and gain money.

But that doesn't mean anything now, does it? The usual mistake that people do is to misjudge their skills and the situation. See, when it comes to going commercial, most of those that attempt it, usually think that being a publisher is just getting all the money. Of course some publishers just do that, but most of them do some actual work, that is promoting the game, and forcing the developer to fix various stuff, from coding to art to music to documentation. From the most of us the excitement of working on a game and being paid for it, usually results in overestimating our skills in such a degree that will later (once disappointment sets in) seem preposterous.

The usual attempt that people do is make a freeware game and then if that goes well, they push on to a commercial game having acquired a crowd. But at times we overestimate the circumstances and believe we're about to conquer the known world, only to be slapped really hard in our faces. Summing up, an audience around something, has nothing to do with people actually buying anything. If somebody gives away donuts, everyone is going to get some, but not everyone is going to buy it, if the next day, that same somebody decides to charge money for it.

Going commercial means a financial risk, and not just fame and success. Otherwise nobody would make games for free. DUH!

Those are my personal opinions, feel free to disagree and flame as much as you can. I also know that this isn't quite any news, but I felt like ranting.


  1. But do remember, being able to gain an audience in the first place is an achievement in itself sometimes, with the quality of free games out there.

    When you look at how many games you can get for free, right now, without any hassles, being able to make something that holds people's attention and stands out from the crowd is the true sign of a quality product. It's why I was willing to pay for Time Gentlemen Please, Dave Gilbert's games and Super Jazz Man, why I'd be willing to pay for why games like Gemini Rue, Resonance and the next The Journey Down game.

    I've enjoyed games from these people before, and I want to see more of what they do specifically next. That's because these developers stand out from among their peers, and I thus become much more willing to part with my money in exchange for games that they've worked on.

    It's true, getting people to play a free game is obviously a lot easier than getting those same people to pay for your game. But once we've had a taste of something good, we want more of that. There is *tons* of free music out there, and yet we still find ourselves purchasing certain albums because they're the ones that really appeal to us.

  2. I'm curious duuls. Not that I agree or disagree with anything you just wrote, but are you writing from personal experience? Just wondering where you are drawing these conclusions from.

  3. @Ben304: I can easily say your opinion is pretty accurate to my thoughts.

    @Dave: It's not personal experience, not that I never had any, but it's just my thoughts really.

    It's about the content really. Lots of people are trying to go commercial (AGS and not just AGS) in the indie game scene (especially after the world of Goo) and it's a shame that the overenthusiastic developers, are getting either ripped off or not. What I'm saying is just an advice to those wanting to go commercial, cause it's not an easy step. Just that. Just a rant that's all. More a food for thought kind of post. If I had some specific game in mind, I'd name it.

    It's that lately more topics related to the commercial side of things appear in the forums, and these thoughts have been in my head for quite a long time.

    I'm usually overthrown by my emotions and some times my posts seem a little weird.

    Oh, and to actually address your question Dave, my conclusions, since I'm expressing common thoughts by indie developers, are just out of observation, logic and lots of reading of various publishers' and developers' journals/blogs. (Including yours :P)

  4. I'm not sure what you mean by people getting "ripped off". If an indie makes a game and tries to sell it and the game bombs, how is he/she getting ripped off? I do agree that going commercial is infinitely more work than doing freeware, but anyone who even bothers to make the attempt is well aware of that.

    What is it about AGS games going commercial that gets you so emotional?

  5. @Dave The rip-off refers mostly to that flash developer that "ripped off" his artists. I'm not sure if it was a topic of discussion in the AGS forums, but it was on TIG ones. I'm quite sure also that not anyone is aware of that. Trust me on this. ^_^ Otherwise I wouldn't bother. I just didn't want to post this on the forums, as it would end up silly or an off-topic discussion sooner or later.

    I'm fine with all the commercial AGS games that I'm aware of. As repeatedly said, this isn't an attack on anybody or anything in specific.

  6. Is this to do with the Journey Down HD project?

  7. As repeatedly said, this isn't an attack on anybody or anything in specific.

  8. I'd say any kind of commercial venture contains risk. Having made a successful free game does help you decide if the risk is worth taking - more so than just jumping straight into selling stuff without having even tried out the market or getting feedback on your product.

  9. I absolutely agree with the author of this article. I think that only 2 or 3 games in the whole AGS games database have a quality of a commercial game. I consider my attempt to sell one of my game as a mistake. I earned some money, but I lost the satisfaction of creating. I lost the feedback from the people. That's why I released it as free and I'm happy now.

  10. I think the commercial indie games bubble is slowly popping, and it's important to inform people who consider the idea of making the jump from hobby to full-time job, to show both sides of the issue, because for every indie success story, there are dozens tales of failures.

    If your looking for money, full-time indie game developer is not the right career. Yeah the Minecraft guy became multi millionaire overnight and sold 1.2 million copies, but he's an exception:
    If you're lucky and frugal you'll make enough to cover your next game and a little more, but you won't be swimming in money.

    Less working hour? We're talking of designing and making a game, squashing bugs, meeting deadlines, making sure other people meet their deadlines, hyping before, during and after release, building a community, tech support...

    Less stress? First there's what will happen the day your game will bomb, if your coder/artist leaves you, then there's piracy, the latest trend these days is cloning existing games and submitting them to the Apple store...

    When it stops being a hobby, indie game developer is a stressful, tiresome and not well paid job. The truth is what drive most indie developers to continue is passion, the passion to create, to try new mechanics, tell new stories, meet like minded people that share the same passion, that moment when you release your game and you know people are playing it for the first time, when they tell you they enjoyed it... this is what compensate for the low salary, crunch time and sleepless nights.

    Don't fool yourselves, indie games developer is a full-time job, and like all jobs it has its highs and its lows. If you don't mind making frugality your philosophy during the early years and if you have that passion to drives you during the hard time and long hours, go ahead and do it, otherwise, keep your current job and keep indie game as a hobby.


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