The number of independent video game developers have shot through the roof in recent years. While crafting a video game is an absolute labor of love, and can take years to fully complete, it can also lead to vast success but most importantly, the creation of something truly special. We need only look at video games such as Braid, Celeste and Papers Please to see how independent game developers can become something special in the market, and as more and more people are looking for experiences further from the mainstream, indie game developers are truly leading the charge in creativity.
As a new indie developer, or one with the basic structure of a product, it can be hard to know where to turn. Much of this ground is still untrodden in several different areas, and trying to do something new and original can really emphasise that. This can feel odd, because the video game industry is now bigger than the movie and music industry combined in countries like the United Kingdom.
In this article, we hope to encourage any fledgling indie game developer, with a few useful resources and tidbits of advice to get you going.
Itch.io is an established storefront for indie games, offering a range of unheard titles for a nominal fee, or sometimes for free. This can be a great way of offering your game to a relatively cost-effective storefront to potentially have your product seen, and to gain feedback from that. Game journalists often browse through this website hoping to find something interesting to talk about, so this could be a great way of gaining exposure, or at least a preliminary audience. Itch.io also helps you as a user, downloading and enjoying titles that are on the cutting edge, which gives you the freedom to take inspiration from others or even gain more of an idea as to where exactly your item fits in the current marketplace.
Consider Multiple Store Fronts
When you slowly begin to develop a product that looks somewhat close to the finishing line, you may start to think about what store front you wish to publish your game on. Steam, perhaps one of the most well-known gaming platforms in the world, is known for taking a 30% cut of all units sold, but will also provide patch delivery for free, give you custom user forums to help you contact your community immediately, operates a free user review system to potentially help your game sell more units through the impressions of its audience, as well as allowing you to craft your own developer page users can follow to see news of any upcoming projects you have. However, store fronts such as Epic, launched from the recent success of Fortnite, ask for only a 12% cut of your sales, but may charge for patch delivery, and offers no extensive user freedom around your product. For you, that might be worth it. Of course, there are alternative options such as GoG, which lead the way in terms of DRM-Free and pro-consumer methodologies, potentially helping you gain ‘good developer points’ in the eyes of your audience.
But who’s to say you may only be limited to PC storefronts or consoles? With the ever increasing span of mobile technology, more and more small games are coming to our pocket devices and tablets. It might be that consulting with Android developers could help you begin to refine a port of your game, reaching a market than many AAA studios are starting to target thanks to its major profitability. Exposure from being on the Google Play store can be an absolutely wonderful thing for your video game, which is why companies such as Square Enix have ported early Final Fantasy series video games and titles such as Chrono Trigger to those stores. With a little effort, you may have your most success here.
Put heavy thought into this, because it could determine your entire branding and marketing effort near release.
Send Review Codes
Send free review codes to streamers, and perhaps even sponsor them to play it for their audience. When streamers play your game and enjoy various aspects, it makes their audience wish to pick it up. Say what you will about streamers making relatively large sums of money simply playing and experiencing other people’s work, but they are a fantastic method of gaining more traction to your overall effort. This can be truly worthwhile if you select your streamer or YouTube content creator well.
With these tips, you are sure to set up your finalized project planning in a correct manner.
Image Credits: Francesco Ungaro