What do I need to know to launch an Indie Game start-up?

Let me preface this preface with a preface. This is a question that was asked of me on Quora.com, on which I am a regular contributor. If some of the content here sounds familiar, it’s because it was originally intended for a different audience. But I think Simon Sinek’s talk speaks directly to independent game devs. So here. Read it. Have your mom knit a sweater with this article on it. Thanks!

Let me preface my answer by saying that I’m not a money guy. I can’t even keep up with my own bills, let alone be an authority on how you should spend, save or invest your money. So I can’t speak to that aspect of starting up.

What I can do though, is refer to you this TED Talk:

It’s pretty well-known already, so if you’ve seen it before then forgive me. If not, let me sum it up for you:

All businesses are just businesses. They have access to the same clientele, same technology and same marketing opportunities. Naturally, funding varies from project to project, but if we are strictly referring to indie gaming, then the playing field is much more level than in the mainstream computer companies Simon Sinek refers to in this talk.

So what makes some companies such innovative giants and others so unable to take off?

Sinek argues that, unlike so many startups, successful companies know WHY they are doing, what they are doing.

Sinek refers to “Golden Circle”, which is a series of three concentric circles nested within each other. He says, most everybody knows WHAT they are doing, but only a portion of them knows HOW they do it. And within that portion, an even smaller number of businesses know WHY they do it. Once you understand the WHY, you can capitalize on it by speaking to a audience that is driven by the same motivating factors you are. You can speak directly to what makes them tick.

The main example given in Sinek’s TED Talk is Apple Computers. If you examine their advertising through the years, the focus is rarely on the product itself. Rather, Apple is selling a lifestyle. And the approach works because their audience agrees with their motives and methods as shown in their advertising.

It really is a lot to explain. You should watch the talk. But my point is this:

Before you get too deep, ask yourself why you are doing this? Because you want to benefit the indie scene? Because you want a game to enjoy yourself? Or is it because you want to make money? Of all these options, the last one is probably the most honest and most effective. What matters is that, once you understand why you want a startup, you can more effectively connect with your audience and capitalize on them.

Naturally, success is still dependent on you delivering a great product. The indie scene is extremely saturated and competitive. Click that to see my article about it. I have several indie game marketing articles on IndieWatch. You’d do well to check them out before you make any permanent decisions.

My best advice is the same advice I always give: you might make the world’s best video game, but if nobody can find it, it doesn’t matter. Make marketing your game a priority waaaaay before it’s playable.

If you want to be updated constantly, find me on Twitter Longielongable . That’s Longie_Long. Remember, I do this for a living so if you need marketing help or any such, drop me a line and employ my services.

Yer pal,



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