Owning Your Own Indie Studio

Entering Startup

Richard Yale of Vortex Games Inc. kicked off a series of posts with Owning an Indie Studio – Part 1. It provides some great insight into another indie’s ambitions, hopes, and dreams, as well as some specifics when it comes to how he runs his company.

Startup costs? Hiring and managing employees and contractors? Income and expense predictions? It’s all there. He talks about being persistent and patient when searching for good contractors available within his budget, what kind of work he expects to do himself, and how long he expects his first two projects to take.

He finishes this first article with advice for other indies. He advises you to be strong in the face of adversity, plan your finances well, and shop your game ideas around to friends and family to see what appeals to people other than yourself. My favorite part:

I have learned so much from just jumping in head first and I’ve learned that it isn’t as horrible as some people make it. You learn, you live, you try, and you adapt. Make the most out of it! Sure it is stressful, frustrating and hard, but in the end it’s worth it every day I lay down to go to sleep.

And this post was only part 1 of the series! I look forward to reading the rest.

(Photo: Modified from Entering startup by dierken | CC-BY-2.0)

4 comments to Owning Your Own Indie Studio

  • I disagree with that post. You don’t make a four people game. There are enough cool resources that you make a one person game quickly and focus on marketing it. The game is less important than the marketing, unless you are doing this as a hobby rather than a business.

  • The game is less important than the marketing? I’m confused by that comment. As an indie developer the game should be the most important part of your business! Are you saying that you can make a crappy game and then market it as an amazing game and it will become a success? I don’t believe that at all. I don’t mean to argue with you on the comments but what you said doesn’t make any sense. People will only play a game if it is good/fun/addicting not because Coca Cola tells them to play it in a marketing campaign. Sure you’ll get people who see the marketing to come play, but they won’t stay. If you charge money for people to buy the game before they play it then this strategy may make you some money, but if it’s a free to play game with micro-transactions then they’ll try your game and just leave when they don’t like it. I’ve seen so many games that have been marketed to the extreme, hyped to the extreme, and then when they were released the game was a total flop and they failed within a few months.

  • Actually, you’re both right. First, you must have a decent game. It needs to be fairly decent quality, in terms of both art and gameplay. It should look to prospective buyers like it was a labor of love, something you enjoyed doing, rather than something you threw together hurriedly and don’t care about. Of course, if it is your first game, it should be a simple game that you can finish in a short amount of time. Don’t take on a large-scale project, or you’ll likely never finish. The important thing for a first game is getting it done and getting it to market.Second, even if you have a good game, it isn’t going to sell itself. Whoever told you that LIED. This was Diwant’s point, that if you’re in this as a business, marketing is at least as important as the game itself, if not more important. In fact, you’re probably going to spend a lot more time marketing the game than you did making it. People don’t magically show up at your web site with cash in hand. Building quality web site traffic takes time – often years before you can earn enough money to make a career out of indie. Especially since as an indie you probably don’t have the money to be advertising at high-traffic sites where you would be competing with AAA game companies. So you’ve got to figure out cheaper, cleverer ways of stretching your meager advertising budget. And you can’t rely on publishers or portals to make money – even if they accept your game (there’s no guarantee that they will), they release at least one new game every day, so you may get some sales at first, but it will very quickly drop off. The best thing you can do is be creative in your marketing approach and provide an exceptional and personalized customer support service.

  • I do agree with you Troy, and I didn’t mean to dismiss marketing your game because it is very important. In fact you should be marketing the entire time you are building. I also think Diwant isn’t considering the fact that the article is about owning a studio and not just becoming an indie developer. Anyone can become an indie developer on their own time, but it takes planning and finances to actually start a studio.

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