The Game Producer’s Business Plan

I’ve been given suggestions to “create a business plan”, “have vision” and “make SWOT analyses” among hundred other things they teach at schools. Some people have asked me about what “a proper business plan looks like”.

I’ve created business plans that had nice charts displaying profits and nice numbers showing sales forecasts and all that stuff. There was “company vision” and that stuff they ask you to write. I have written lengthy business plans for games in the past. While the plans looked nice, that’s pretty much as far as I got with them. They were nice, but they didn’t quite turn in like I wanted.

Then I decided to create a much shorter business plan. It looks pretty same as what I saw at South Park. There was an episode where The Underpants Gnomes had a three-phase business plan, consisting of:

  1. Collect underpants
  2. ???
  3. Profit!

While in the show it was a joke, I unconsciously decided to use a similar plan:

  1. Passion
  2. ???
  3. Profit!

I decided to do what I enjoy most: I decided to produce games and write about producing them. I decided to dream big and made a goal for having tens of thousands of people seeing my work (now I’m visioning hundreds of thousands seeing my work) and earn income doing this. I did some background research first before I started, but basically I just started working on what I enjoyed most.

I didn’t worry about how I would reach my goals. I didn’t know what I need to do to make profit, I just decided to do what I love and forgot the how part for now. I thought I would learn while as I go. I decided to do something every day and work on my goals.

That’s what I also suggest you to do: simply take a goal in the area of what you love to do, and start working on it. Sooner or later you’ll get good at it and will see profit if that’s what you aim. If you like designing games – then make your goal to make a living designing games. If you like programming, then set a goal to make a living programming games. Forget the “is it possible” or “how can I do that” for now, and simply take the first obvious step.

Set a goal, and every day take step to reach that goal.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. That’s a very catchy idea. “Just do it!” is a popular slogan and people love to get an idea and just run with it. That’s also why 90% of start-ups and home businesses fail within the first year. What people reading your article need to understand is that you had already done the research behind making business plans and thinking through the process multiple times in the past. You were not “new” to the industry. However, someone fresh out of college can not 1) sit down 2) make games 3) make profit. It’s way more complicated than that.

    Are they doing contract work on the side? Are they selling ad space? Have they researched their ideas to see if someone else already has it copyrighted or made? Do they know the costs of an iOS development account and the cut Apple takes from each sale? How many weeks/months will it take them to produce each game? How many games go completely unnoticed? Do they realize comments like “it will take 2-4 games created before a developer will start showing structure and profit” are false because that would be incredibly rare? The idea that it “only takes 2-4 games to equal profit” is not backed by the reality one can research and read about, should he/she put in the time to do so.

    I find it irritating when people quote me the stats for Angry Birds because they were incredibly lucky to have such a huge hit. However, even given their incredible luck, they made 500+ games before that one! It cost them around $170,000 to make JUST THAT ONE as a side project. Before then they made their money off contract work; their own games were a money drain done because they could afford it.

    Business plans help you to get funding, or real work, like for a publisher or other developer. So… of course you’ll tell everyone else “just do it!” and by saying that you guarantee one thing… less thought out and planned competition!

  2. Hi Dears, I am to make some brand new dexterity games, I am so happy and lucky to say that I was just thinking and stepping the same steps I read in this page today, they gave me positive energy a lot to continue.
    Being an Industrial engineer, I have a background of 10 yrs producing mental games and toys back home. I need your kind advice to pattent my plans, and to step ahead as well. I wish to get your guidance ASAP.
    Best Regards

  3. When it comes to independent game development going with a “just make it and sell it” approach is probably a pretty good way to start. But you can’t just have a start, you have to have a plan for where you going from there. From my perspective I think it will take 2-4 games created before a developer will start showing structure and profit. A developers first game can be used just to test out the water, see how they themselves operate over a long period of time on a project, etc. The second game can be used to further hone their skills and methods, at this point the group/person can really become more productive and learn what their all about. From here said person/group can really get a grip on things and attack a market. Create a business plan (one that focuses on worst and best case scenarios) and really become profitable.

    It takes a lot of work and some times a lot of tries to become a successful and profitable developer/publisher. You have to learn a lot about the industry, how things are done, where the market is, where it’s going, and among other things it still has to be treated as a business because thats what it is, if you don’t eventually get a strangle hold on your development as a business and do the proper things needed to succeed then it will be very difficult for you to be successful and profitable.

  4. You shouldn’t also worry about business stuff, calculations, money etc etc, just produce games that really rock and people will buy it. At least that’s my plan ;) of course it might seem unrealistic, but the time that gets invested into running around with a calculator all day can be much better invested into making a game that truly rocks.

  5. I agree with torncanvas here, study is important but it won’t make you a game. But of course, that is different depending on what kind of kind you are doing. A highly advanced games with shaders, advanced collisions, etc, etc… In that case, study can be really important.

  6. Ready Fire Aim, you gotta love it!

    Hey you should think about MILLIONS of people see your work. Pretty close to 1,000,000 people have download The Wonderful Wizard of OZ. They all “seen” it even if they didn’t all buy it.

    The other day the musician for Easter Bonus was playing some of his old tracks and his neighbours shouted out “hey you’re playing Easter Bonus”, he said it was a great feeling to have his work recognised by someone randomly like that.

  7. This is fantastic advice. I’m glad you posted this, because your previous post, How to Get a Job As a Game Designer, seems to advise people to study a lot before they get started.

    Don’t study, DO. Just freaking make a game already. Make sure you can actually finish it in a reasonable time, but make one you like. Then make another. Can’t handle the amount of work it takes for your desired game? Join a team and/or make a mod on top of an existing game.

    As you go, you can study some, sure. But you can learn so much by simply doing. So many people worry about getting a game job. By simply making a finished game, you’re a lot closer to getting a job than you would be by worrying and hitting the books for a while.

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