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vibrunazo

Game engine market share

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I'm trying to do a market research on game engines. Been googling for weeks and made very little progress.[url="http://scienceinthetriangle.org/2011/06/triangle-game-engines-dominate-market/"]I found some data about numbers of reported units sold[/url], which implies that unreal 3d rules the market. But that's only for 3d console technologies, I'm also interested in 2d, browser, mobile engines like GameSalad, and casual engines like GameMaker and other middle-ware.

But most importantly, I'm interested in $$$, not in just number of users. I can't find any reports of revenue for any game engine anywhere. How much do these guys make?

Is there anywhere I can find any info? Most of these companies seem to be privately held and don't publish any financial report. Are any of them which are public companies I can find reports on? What other methods could I use to find this data?

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You mean Valve? They're a privately held company and I couldn't find anything on them either. They have a list of publications in their website, but nothing about financial reports, only tech articles:
[url="http://www.valvesoftware.com/company/publications.html"]http://www.valvesoftware.com/company/publications.html[/url]

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There are firms that specialize in brokering in this kind of hard to get data. Tools of the trade range from the more benign legal practices of surveillance and scrounging any shred of public evidence, to corporate espionage (posing as employees to get hired, and violating NDA), hacking and other criminal behavior.

Let's just say that the information doesn't come cheap. It's kind of exciting, actually; it's one of the last frontiers in the classical field of secret agents.


Regarding what you're looking for, though:

2d engines are relatively simple compared to 3d engines. Outside of the indie sector, there's not much sale going on (save for wholesale purchase of entire companies). Companies usually have internal technology that they do not sell or license. The overwhelming abundance of free libraries for 2d games (which are generally better made and documented) may weaken the market for those kinds of products more. Why pay for something when you can get a higher quality substitute for free, with better community support?

Gamesalad is very ambitious, particularly from a marketing perspective, but personally I think its reach will end at very inexperienced indie developers (who would be better suited to the modding community), and probably produce a profusion of very poor games. I kind of doubt that there's a market for what they're trying to sell that's anywhere nearly as large as they seem to be anticipating. I'm a little surprised to even see that this exists at all.

But hey, I could be totally wrong and they might make millions. I wouldn't put my money on it, though.


I'm not sure if that helps at all, except to say don't feel bad for not finding anything.

If I may ask, what do you need this information for?

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[quote name='driftingSpaceMan' timestamp='1317525472' post='4868143']
2d engines are relatively simple compared to 3d engines. Outside of the indie sector, there's not much sale going on (save for wholesale purchase of entire companies). Companies usually have internal technology that they do not sell or license. The overwhelming abundance of free libraries for 2d games (which are generally better made and documented) may weaken the market for those kinds of products more. Why pay for something when you can get a higher quality substitute for free, with better community support?[/quote]I'm more interested in the indie engines actually, YoyoGames seems to be doing well from an outsider point of view. I wanted to know exactly how well :) But any info on anyone in the market would be great.

[quote name='driftingSpaceMan' timestamp='1317525472' post='4868143']
Gamesalad is very ambitious, particularly from a marketing perspective, but personally I think its reach will end at very inexperienced indie developers (who would be better suited to the modding community), and probably produce a profusion of very poor games. I kind of doubt that there's a market for what they're trying to sell that's anywhere nearly as large as they seem to be anticipating. I'm a little surprised to even see that this exists at all.

But hey, I could be totally wrong and they might make millions. I wouldn't put my money on it, though.[/quote]It's a shame you didn't put your money on it. Because they are making millions already :P
"Funding: 7.1M"
- [url="http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/31/gamesalad-raises-6-1-million-for-iphone-and-ipad-game-creation-tool/"]http://techcrunch.co...-creation-tool/[/url]

[quote name='driftingSpaceMan' timestamp='1317525472' post='4868143']
If I may ask, what do you need this information for?
[/quote]We're building a game engine startup, GameSalad is probably our closest competitor. Investors are interested in market size, strength of competitors etc. We wanna have a better idea of how profitable this might be. Even if we don't find too much data, we're trying to get the best general overview of the playfield that we can.


But thanks anyway, that was helpful. I don't feel as bad for not finding anything anymore indeed ^^

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[quote name='vibrunazo' timestamp='1317530675' post='4868169']
It's a shame you didn't put your money on it. Because they are making millions already :P
"Funding: 7.1M"
- [url="http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/31/gamesalad-raises-6-1-million-for-iphone-and-ipad-game-creation-tool/"]http://techcrunch.co...-creation-tool/[/url]
[/quote]

Well, investment I can definitely believe, but that isn't money 'made', it's money risked. Most of that has probably gone into the website and marketing effort I'm witnessing, a little into development.

[quote]To date, GameSalad has been used to create powered over 8,500 titles in the iTunes App Store including more than 30 top 100 U.S. Games in Apple’s App Store.[/quote]

The pro license costs $500 per year. That would put them at maybe $2M revenue (many of those games are created by the same people) if all of those developers were pro, but that would be an unrealistic estimate, since those kinds of numbers are largely due to free users (and it shows, skimming their titles). If I was masocistic enough, I could estimate what percentage of games use the pro license based on the feature set among free titles (free in the app store), and we could assume all non-free titles use a pro license.

Being very generous, we could probably estimate one million in revenue. But given their development costs up until that point (it seems like a pretty nice tool set; I definitely don't want to underestimate what they've done), it doesn't seem like even that would be much real profit. There were a lot of people being fed on that (and savings), probably for the better part of a year. I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't any profit yet.

There was definitely enough activity to get investors interested, but I think they may have misstepped personally (not that I'm not happy to see investment being made in this economy; that's all good).


There are probably around 200k developers for iOS, and maybe 50k games, and something along the lines of a half-million apps. So, we might be able to guess that games make up 10% of apps, and probably make up around 10% of developers.

That's 20k developers, which with 50k games is roughly in line with polls indicating that most developers have made around 2 to 2.5 titles on average.

If all of those developers bought a pro license, it would yield $10M. Out of a $7.1M
Considering something like 30% of apps are free (I don't know if games are more so or less so), they might even be looking at less than a $6M return on a $7.1M+ investment.

That's not a good return on any investment, particularly one so risky.
Particularly when from the looks of popularity searches, Unity owns the lion's share of overall popularity in the iOS development market (though not the majority of games- I suspect that is because the GameSalad users are cranking them out faster, and there are more *completely* free users- Unity costs about $400). Even without Unity, there are a lot of other fingers in that pie too. Right now GameSalad seems to have only 16% of the games on iOS, and try as they might, they're unlikely to dislodge current developers from the technology they're already comfortable with (and already have licenses for, or already know how to use) with the feature set they're offering.

Honestly, if the Unity team (having the perspective and numbers they do) thought producing some more indie tool-sets would be worth it, I think they would have done that and made it more accessible than it is by now.

GameSalad even breaking even would seem to be contingent on the continued growth of the iOS platform- a market which Android is pushing in on quickly, particularly on the indie side- note more free apps, and a lower barrier to entry.

I just don't see it...


I really wouldn't put a penny into it. Too risky, and not enough potential for return given my understanding of indie game development and the nature of the consumer (and the propensity to *not* purchase).

Of course, I could still be totally wrong. All of my numbers are a few weeks or a couple months old, and I may be missing something obvious. Most of this kind of estimation is an ass-pull without very extensive work, personal surveys, etc.

Can you tell me more about your target for the engine, and the tools you're wanting to build?
If you don't want to give too many details here, feel free to PM me more about your plans; I'd be happy to give feedback.

Cheers!



EDIT: YoyoGames, on the other hand- the price point is much more reasonable (in the important impulse buy range, although near the end of it, where GameSalad is not), and they're drawing from a longer game maker tradition, with a broader scope, and more tempered and reasonable expectations. I don't expect them to become fabulously wealthy, but if they're careful and take care of their community, I suspect they'll be around for a long time.

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GameSalad latest press release says they have 160,000 users. If all of those have $500 pro licenses, then it's $80M revenue. That's highly unlikely, *but* they also have an assets marketplace. And according to a recent article on GamaSutra, unity makes a good chunk of it's revenue from its marketplace. Specifically, they announced that even tho most chinese users pirate their engine, they're still seeing huge revenue increase in China, because of the marketplace. So I assume GameSalad is also making a bunch of revenue from it's marketplace with 160,000 users. Also, some top games made with GameSalad have been making some millions and they've had more than 40 games on top 100. Which means they do have, at least, a sizable conversion rate of pro licences. Sources:
- [url="http://techcrunch.com/2011/06/22/gamesalad-now-supports-html5-on-game-creation-platform/"]http://techcrunch.co...ation-platform/[/url]
- [url="http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/37563/Unity_Piracy_Driving_Huge_Growth_In_Asian_Regions.php"]http://www.gamasutra...ian_Regions.php[/url]
- [url="http://gamesalad.com/corporate/corporate/blog/2011/01/gamesalad-announces-incredible-growth-in-2010/"]http://gamesalad.com...growth-in-2010/[/url]
- [url="http://marketplace.gamesalad.com/"]http://marketplace.gamesalad.com/[/url]

With all of these info. I would put my personal guess, that they already had their break-even and are at least over $10M in revenue so far. Investors are not dumb, if they made a round of $6M earlier this year, they must have shown some very promising financial projections.

[quote name='driftingSpaceMan' timestamp='1317549290' post='4868218']
Honestly, if the Unity team (having the perspective and numbers they do) thought producing some more indie tool-sets would be worth it, I think they would have done that and made it more accessible than it is by now.[/quote]Wait, what numbers are you talking about? I wanna know that ^^ Also, in the last few weeks I've been seen a *lot* of ads of unity saying something like "you can make your own game". And they do have a free-license and market that as indie on their website. So I would guess they are seeing a lot of potential on that customer segment as well :)


[quote name='driftingSpaceMan' timestamp='1317549290' post='4868218']
Can you tell me more about your target for the engine, and the tools you're wanting to build?
If you don't want to give too many details here, feel free to PM me more about your plans; I'd be happy to give feedback.[/quote]We're going for the complete layman, even higher than indies. People who think GameMaker and GameSalad's drag n dropping are way over their heads. We'll *abuse* procedural content generation and recommendation based on social media info to reduce the amount of choosing our users have to do. So basically, instead of starting from a blank screen (as in current engines), our users will start from a full game we generated based on what we think he'd want. Modding is easier than building from scratch. We believe this way, we can make game creation easier, faster, cheaper and more social. :)

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[quote name='vibrunazo' timestamp='1317571803' post='4868293']
Wait, what numbers are you talking about? I wanna know that ^^ Also, in the last few weeks I've been seen a *lot* of ads of unity saying something like "you can make your own game". And they do have a free-license and market that as indie on their website. So I would guess they are seeing a lot of potential on that customer segment as well :)
[/quote]

I mean their private research.

There's definitely potential in the customer base for indie developers, but I mean regarding drag and drop super simple systems. Scripting and the tools Unity already has are dead simple for anybody with real determination (and I don't think drag and drop brings the bar down *that* much- there's still a learning curve there).

That said, what you just described... I have to say [i]wow[/i].

That's not something I imagine Unity has ever been thinking about, or is really going for, and that instant procedural process - if it works - hits the real baseline of vanity game production; provided, also, that you're helping them publish (if you can manage to avoid them having to set up a web site on their own or create a apple developer account, you've got a golden ticket IMO).

Regarding the market, my perception is that these game designers we're talking about are basically looking for a vanity press to make something they can call their game with as little effort as possible, and where I criticize GameSalad is that I just don't see that happening at the price point they're going for ($500 outright, is crazy for the additional features they're offering for any vanity user, when the free version works just as well), and simply because the barrier to entry into publishing a game on the app store is nearly as high (or higher) than actually learning to script something simple. I wasn't considering the asset store; that's a good point, and probably changes things very dramatically considering the free user base.

If you've got an "insert money, out comes a game with your name on it" system, you'll probably have cornered that market. For your payment model, if you want to optimize income, looking into the process that book publishing vanity presses use may help you out there. Asset market places, like you mentioned, are a great start- it has to be easy to spend a little money, and then follow it up incrementally with more and more. Eh, as the saying goes "good money after bad"; people are willing to pay more when they've already invested a bit into something.

If you make this simple enough and even gamify game creation using it, I could imagine this doing [i]very[/i] well.

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