Here’s One Reason Why People Won’t Buy Indie Games (Part 1)

If you hang around at indie forums, there’s a certain pattern that you can see. It’s about how indies develop & market their games. Here’s a breakdown on what these guys do.

Game development effort:
In development these guys spend tons of time doing the following:

  • Go through technology possibilities and choose the right platform
  • Make demos
  • Create design documents
  • Play and test different games
  • Estimate work effort to create a game
  • Purchase graphical assets
  • Compose
  • Read and learn more about project management
  • Get familiar with game design
  • Build a level editor
  • Fix DirectX problems
  • Add mac support
  • Port the game to iPhone
  • Write a game development blog
  • Participate in game development forums
  • Ask questions
  • Talk with friends about design issues
  • Squash bugs in code
  • Handle multiplayer
  • Add particle effects
  • Handle budget
  • Create cool new features
  • Program physics in game
  • Add different libraries
  • And 7000 other things that come up during the development

Marketing effort:
When it comes to marketing, their plan is:

  • Wait for people to find the game site.

What’s wrong with this plan?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. @Bayger: I’d say that guy is more successful than people who don’t do marketing at all until their game is “done”.

    a. He can get early feedback and get improve his game in the right areas
    and b. He can build momentum that he can leverage when the game is “done”.

    Especially the momentum part is important. My point is, if you want to make a business out of this, you shouldn’t be afraid to produce “failures” and be embarrassed about a shitty product. Even if the game sucks and nobody wants it because it’s unplayable.. he still learned a great deal from it. :)

  2. I know one person who does a lot of marketing and is developing a game that is unplayable. :P This is the opposite situation. But yes, without marketing you sell [almost] nothing.

  3. Yeah you need to add finish the game to the end of the list.

    The other night I did a talk for Game Design students at the Vancouver Film School and I showed a slide that said “A good game will sell itself” and asked them who believed that, and some people put their hands up. Then I told them it was bullshit and inserted the word “NOT” into the sentence :-) Either learn marketing yourself, or hire someone to do it, or use a publisher, or sell via a portal. Marketing needs to be a big part of the financial and time budget of a game if it is to succeed.

  4. There is nothing wrong with this plan. Game Development is just fracking difficult as it is. So most Indie Game developers will never actually get a product out. They fail trying to manage all the 7000+ other things required to get at least one game out. What do you suggest? Doing Marketing is not really effective if you haven’t got a product.

  5. Actually, I hadn’t seen that. Thanks for the link!

  6. “What’s wrong with this plan?”

    Umm, scope creep?!? :D

  7. The problem is that they’re not targeting Linux! :P

  8. In an information market, “build it and they will come” no longer works, because they have to know about it and are being told more info than they can take in as is. That’s my two cents.

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