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it has recently become a tsunami of shite cheap games

 
(Which - despite massive amounts of complaining - has caused no actual problems for anyone anywhere.)

 

This. Actually, it's not anywhere near over saturated yet. I have an awful game on steam I bought the rights to/added cards etc, and it's making around $180/month.

 

There's still a large opportunity for .50 shovelware with steam features (Trading cards/achievements etc).

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Does Steam only accept games from major publishers, or will I take a game from an indie developer?

Any new developer (Without a major publisher) has to go through greenlight.

Basically you pay $100, and upload a description/screenshots of your game, and people vote on whether or on they'd buy it. If you get a few thousand yes votes, steam is willing to host your game.

 

https://steamcommunity.com/greenlight

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What is the typical earnings for a typical tile based game, pretty great?

 

And where\how is everyone selling indie games besides Steam and Greenlight? 

 

(With some figures if possible?)

 

Thank you so much,

Joshua

Edited by Josheir

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The 'typical' earnings for any game are 'pretty minimal', not 'pretty great'.

 

As for your most recent question, you need to be more specific, and to do some of the work yourself - we're not here to Google for you.

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What is the typical earnings for a typical tile based game, pretty great?

...

(With some figures if possible?)

I can't give exact figures as it's against steam's EULA, but I can say that the "Typical earnings" for a small game (say, done in a few months max), is a few hundred $'s a month for a few months, then in the upper 10's of $'s per month (just shy of $100). All of that is before steam's cut, of course.

 

Steamspy is pretty innacurate now for small/mid indie games, as most of the copies "owned" were sold for .10 through sites like bundlestars/greenlight bundles just to get the game approved.

 

Every income source besides steam is small enough to hardly matter (itch is gaining momentum though).

 

If your plan is to get rich by making a few games, you'd be better off buying 50 lotto tickets. It's less expensive with similar break even odds, and way less effort.

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Sorry Kylotan I thought maybe there was some secret terminology besides distribution...

 

For all the work why are quality indie games not earning much revenue, perhaps a publicist/marketer should be used?  I imagine people try to get written up in media for games on their website and then hope for word of mouth.

 

Maybe on a demo CD too?

 

Advertising?

 

It seems to win and not be 'pretty minimal' we need to be clever!

 

I just assumed there would be markets available and still do!

 

 

Joshuae

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Does Steam only accept games from major publishers, or will I take a game from an indie developer?

Any new developer (Without a major publisher) has to go through greenlight.

I know quite a few indies (myself included) that have gotten a publishing agreement with Valve without going through greenlight.
They don't seem to have very solid internal procedures, so you pretty much just have to make contact and ask the right person nicely.

For all the work why are quality indie games not earning much revenue, perhaps a publicist/marketer should be used?

If you're launching a product, you definitely need a marketing budget.
In my city alone I know of three companies in that area that are indie friendly - Lumi, Double Jump and Surprise Attack!
This is definitely a thing if you're serious about running a business. Edited by Hodgman

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Hodgman I would even say that perhaps if your launching a game you need do dedicate time to the business side.  Are your games hosted anywhere or do you keep them private?

 

I suppose I should ask a marketer about the possibilities of earnings of a product marketed well.  Of course this needs to be done smartly, that's the thing.

 

How do I say why I deserve it, why the games great, so that they understand and I get the fullest use of their resources.  To take it to the fullest.

 

The first game has got to be the hardest not knowing what to expect.

 

When I was asking about searching the web really I'm wondering what can be expected for revenue from a successfully marketed game?  This is a tough question to ask and perhaps a tough question to answer but how people have won substantial earnings with there confidence would be a nice thing to hear.  Especially for us that are newer to the marketing side.

 

 

Joshuae

Edited by Josheir

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Geeze I just looked at the indie games on greenlight and they look fantastic.  Are the bigger indie games making decent income?  I didn't find any greenlight games on steamspy.

 

I couldn't believe they weren't recommending one of the games.

 

Joshuae

Edited by Josheir

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Are the bigger indie games making decent income?  I didn't find any greenlight games on steamspy.

If they're still in the greenlight voting stage, then they're not actually being sold on steam yet.
One way to tell if they're making decent income is to look into the developers/studios of those games. Is this their first game? If so, who knows... If it's not their first game, then they must've made money on their earlier games or they'd have gone out of business :wink:
Again though, there's huge varience in sales. Some games are a hit and make back 10x their costs, other games don't break even.

I would even say that perhaps if your launching a game you need do dedicate time to the business side

Of course. Any company needs a decent director / executive / "business guy". Not just someone who calls themselves "CEO" for fun, but someone can actually make sure that you've got a solid business plan. Ideally a business shouldn't even start making a game before they know how they're going to sell it.

Most indie studios won't have a marketing expert on the team, which is where consulting firms like the ones that I linked can come into play.

You also need a good accountant so that if/when you do make money, you don't lose all of it to excessive taxes (or worse: get in legal trouble for running a business incorrectly) and you also need a lawyer.

It goes without saying that you also need to actually be a business, which may requiring filing paperwork with your country/state/city government.

In business in general, people talk about the Customer Acquisition Cost -- how much money you have to spend in order to get one customer to use your service / buy your product. In some industries where getting customers involves hiring a whole team of sales people, your CAC can be as high as thousands of dollars per customer -- meaning that even if you make a thousand dollars in profit from a customer, you've only just made enough to keep your sales staff paid...
In free-to-play mobile games, it generally costs a few dollars to acquire a customer, which means that your Average Revenue Per User also has to be a few dollars in order to pay for those advertising costs, let alone make any profits...
In PC gaming, AFAIK it costs more like $5 to $10 on average to acquire a customer via traditional advertising...

 

So for example, if a mid sized game spends $10M on development and $10M on marketing, they can expect to get $10M / $10CAC = 1M customers. If the digital price of their game is $60 and Steam takes 30%, they get ~$40 revenue per customer, bringing in $40M. Subtracting costs, that means they've spent $20M, gotten $40M in revenue, making $20M in profits, assuming everything went to plan...

That's the best case scenario -- making a 100%+ return on their investment. 

They could also spend $20M on dev/marketing and only gotten $1M in revenue -- making a $19M loss for their business... It's likely that a company will see both situations -- one game might put several million dollars into their bank, and another game might simply drain their bank account...

 

Also note that I called this a mid-sized game :lol:

"Indie" these days covers games with budgets ranging from $0 up to several million dollars. Honestly, a $1M budget for any game is very low - and these ones often go into the same greenlight pile as the $0 hobbyist games.

Edited by Hodgman

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For all the work why are quality indie games not earning much revenue, perhaps a publicist/marketer should be used?  I imagine people try to get written up in media for games on their website and then hope for word of mouth.

 

Maybe on a demo CD too?

 

Advertising?

 

It seems to win and not be 'pretty minimal' we need to be clever!

 

I just assumed there would be markets available and still do!

 

 

There are lots of games, each one costs a lot to make (in absolute terms, not relative to Assassin's Creed or whatever), the market is relatively small (relative to AAA) and ways of reaching the market are limited.

 

Good contacts with press are helpful but remember that it's close to being a zero-sum game. Each journalist is only writing about 1 game on a given day, each reader is only reading about 1 game at once, and each player is only playing 1 game at a time. Your publicity might hypothetically steal the limelight from someone else's game but it doesn't necessarily grow the audience or the revenue pool.

 

With all of this, there's a risk of getting dragged into a customer acquisition arms race, which is basically what happens to mobile studios. Hodgman has already mentioned Customer Acquisition Cost and another similar term is 'Cost Per Install' which is where the advertising costs are divided by the number of installations to indicate how expensive it is to get someone to play your game. The way these companies work with these metrics, and the scale they operate at, means that the game itself is largely secondary. Yet we all know intuitively that the game itself matters, because the content and the polish make a massive difference to whether reviewers will cover it, whether it gets good reviews on Steam, whether people want to share screenshots, etc. These things can't be quantified to investors so the modern free-to-play studios don't even try, but that doesn't mean they're not relevant. So you need to be careful that any consideration of customer acquisition cost isn't attempting to quantify a relationship that may not really exist, and extremely wary of any strategy that suggests that you can pour more money into the acquisition funnel and watch a predictably proportionate number of customers drop out the other end.

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Steam also has an excellent API so that you can make it easier for friends to play online together, share information, etc. With Unreal Engine, this process is simplified even more! That is if you are making a multiplayer game. If you are making only a single player game, there still is achievements that you can offer players, and this is also not very hard to set up in Unreal Engine if that is what you would want to use.

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I know quite a few indies (myself included) that have gotten a publishing agreement with Valve without going through greenlight. They don't seem to have very solid internal procedures, so you pretty much just have to make contact and ask the right person nicely.

 

Oh, that's interesting, but on the same hand I'm not surprised at all. I buy/sell the rights to games on steam and I've got a guy I contact directly, instead of using their support. 

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A lot of personal opinion follows, so be warned.

 

 

You probably shouldn't go into the whole "Indie game on Steam" thing expecting a return on investment. Most Indie games fail, just like most AAA games fail. The AAA studios just have the expierience and the warchest needed to kill the games that are "failed" in their eyes early and bury them before anyone sees anything of them. Many Indies cannot do that or are not willing to do it. Many also do not see the problems with their games. Some very misguided devs talking back to customers giving them bad reviews on steam might ACTUALLY believe their games are not that bad when honestly, as a person not involved in the development you have to say the game is terrible.

 

Well, getting back on track, most games fail in the market. They fail because they ARE shite. Some fail because they are not shite, but mediocre. And mediocre games cannot become topsellers without high end marketing. Some fail because they are good games coming out at the wrong time, or with bad marketing.

So EXPECT your game to fail. You will have to put out MANY of them to get some successes.

 

 

How you deal with this uncertainity, and frankly speaking bad return on investment for anyone save the few topshots in the store, might differ.

 

Some advocate creating tons of shovelware titles that get bad sales, but can generate a dripfeed of income over the years. With dozens of those titles out there generating a small income, that might add up. You still need to be aware that you will have to develop these games fast to get your investment down to the minimum, AND be able to push out games at an alarming rate. You need to be aware that this strategy most probably works better on mobile than Steam were people are ready to pay more, but generally also expect more for their money. And of course, if you want to put something out you can be proud of, well.... unless your pride comes from being able to say that you created two games in one week and still had time for a nice weekend with your better half, you will not put out games that will make you proud.

 

Generally speaking you need to cut your cost at every corner. An Indie dev life is the life of a starving artist, at least at first (and until you hit that big hit, you most probably will not escape this, unless you start with a day job or paid gigs). Living in a country with low cost of living, sharing an apartment, saving on food and unneeded expenses can help you make that saving stretch another year of dev time. But never forget that if you spend it all on one title, you might end up with nothing in the end if the game fails.

 

 

The best bet usually is to make sure you either have a stable income, can get one if you need it, or at least have a bank account that will bridge you over the dev time for many titles, not just one.

 

Having to work a job besides game dev, even if only parttime, certainly is hard, and prolonges the time needed to develop anything. But its also the safest bet, especially in countries where a job comes with some added perks like insurance and pension plans. You will have to cover those yourself when Indie deving.

 

Working paid gigs can be a good thing, but getting those gigs can be tough, unless you already have made a name for yourself in the industry, and if its just about the money, there are certainly better paying industries than the game industry. Arch Viz could be an interesting "middle ground" where you can use some skills you had to aquire for game development, but in a AFAIK better paying industry.

 

If you have enough cash in your bank account to bridge you over the dev time of many games, that can become a good option. I am not sure I would invest my cash this way, but some people got a business started this way. Guess it also worked out fine for many Indie devs. Just make sure you always plan for the unexpected and don't expect your game to be finished on time. Also, don't forget that getting that return on investment might also take some time. Most Money is usually earned during the release spike, but that varies between games, and a substantial part of you income might come in after a year or more.

 

 

Good luck with your game development plans anyway!

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