Unity Asset Store
As an indie game developer it is hard to find the ideal marketplace for your current needs. Depending on your circumstances, the time and budget you have available will vary, as will the required monetary success.
Thus far through South East Games' short existence, our focus, like most others, has been the iOS App Store. While it can't be denied that success on the iOS devices is possible, achieving it can be more difficult than the thousands of aspiring game developers that have tried might have hoped. While we're still trying to find the spare time to finish our current in-development iOS (and other platforms) title, I thought it might be worth testing the water in some other markets. First, the Unity Asset Store.
Unity launched their Asset Store as a built in window in Unity 3.1 in mid November 2010. Upon release I was interested in getting in early with some products in the hope that being early would have the potential to be successful whether the store ended up a viable marketplace or not. Unfortunately as is often the case, my full time job became too busy at the time and I wasn't able to complete the product I was working on.
Over the past few days I've been reminded of the Asset Store once again thanks to a few blog posts showing some relatively successful products. First, Unity showcased their top seller on their own company blog.
A&B Software's products are first-class and fill voids that the core Unity product releases with, namely an advanced GUI system and a 2D sprite manager.
While ~$15,600 isn't a massive number when we're used to seeing news of the million selling iOS game or the tens of thousands of dollars Notch rakes in daily from MineCraft, it is still a very desirable number for many developers and it's on a store that has a fraction of a percent of the competition as other marketplaces. This is not a one in a million proposition.
Lets take a look at the featured product shown in the first image in this post, RageSpline. I saw the creator's blog post detailing his successful first five days on the store after Unity's lead graphics programmer linked to it on Twitter (@aras_p). 61 sales in 5 days at $50 each is a fantastic result, and since that post it seems to have continued selling just as fast or even faster.
For an experienced programmer, neither RageSpline nor A&B Software's products are difficult to develop, but they found holes and filled them. They've also both created polished products and have spent the time to create videos and showing off how to use their software and also the results it can achieve. I think this is a very important factor in their success.
The way I see it, the prioritised list of things to consider when developing something for the Asset Store is:
- Find something people want that is not built into Unity
- Develop a solid product with as much flexibilty (i.e. Inspector options, etc) as the design allows
- Create videos that show off your product's ease of use and results in the best possible light
- Brand your product
My final point there is mainly based on a hunch. Branding is obviously a significant aspect of many retail markets and I won't begin to understand the intricacies. A&B Software's Brady Wright has his 'EZ' branding and Juha Kiili can reuse the 'Rage' prefix on future products. If confronted in future with two competing products that do essentially the same thing, if one is branded with a name you trust from one of their previous products, that will be the one you choose.
So now I will begin at step 1, looking into holes in Unity that I think could use filling. The holes may not be immediately visible. RageSpline is an example of a product that fills a void you previously did not know was there, and Juha came to it through chance when working on his own title. I have some ideas already, but comparing features with other game engines and reading complaints on the Unity forum seem like a good place to start the search.
I will post back once I find the product and begin development. I'll also post any and all details on the submission process, sales, etc when the time comes.
Also posted on the South East Games blog.