Every indie dev ought to know what they're up against. Your indie game will almost certainly be lost like a fart in a maelstrom of disappointment.
Indie Dev Reality Check: Does your game suck?
It’s no wonder so many of them get me wrong. The thing is, it’s not really your game that sucks. I mean, it’s possible. Actually, make sure it doesn't before you even think about marketing. But even a not-sucky game will still sink to the bottom of the stagnant cesspool of indie games. What makes you think you're special? You're just another grain of sand in indie gaming's post-apocalyptic desert. You're just another fart in the maelstrom of disappointment that every other indie dev is caught in.
Sound harsh? I’ve used this phrase before, but for an indie dev to make any substantial splash in today’s market it has to be one in a million. That’s how competitive it is out there.
Your game has to be one in a million. That's how competitive it is out there.
Just imagine you’re applying for your dream job. You’ve never done the job before, but you have an understanding of what to do and you’re pretty confident you can do it. Now imagine you’re being interviewed along with one million other candidates. That’s how every indie dev needs to think when they’re trying to sell their game.
We consumers have a million games to choose from, including games from big-name developers that our friends already play and that we already know will be good. Imagine gamers scrolling through their Steam feeds, passing up handfuls of established titles from established studios – both AAA studios as well as your indie dev competition. Why should I play your game?
No, really! Ask yourself why anybody should choose your game over another one. If you don’t have an answer, then gamers won’t either. And they won’t buy your game.
Indie Dev Reality Check: Indie gaming is dead
In my previous article, I proclaimed that indie gaming is dead, and there has been some debate over what that even means. Yes, there are more indie games than ever being pumped out daily. And yes, a few of them sell extremely well. But those big-sellers are outliers in a market that has otherwise dried up and died. Supply has overwhelmed demand a ten thousand times over and prices are suppressed to the point that games are next to worthless. In fact, free-to-play games are making more money than paid games. And that’s not great for the market either. Just my opinion of course.
Okay, I’m off track as usual. I really wanted to write something to tell you, indie dev, that the market has exploded in a bad way and it’s going to be harder than ever for you and your fellow indies to create a game that will actually sell.
Being a successful indie dev is harder than ever. But not quite impossible.
If I could give one piece of advice – well, I’ve given lots of advice via IndieWatch, and my Patreon page (come visit!) but if I had
to tell you one underlying theme – have a plan. Don’t just start a game, maybe finish it, and plop it into the market. That is what so many other indie dev studios have done before, and it’s what’s strangling the market today.
If you can create a plan not just for development, but for marketing as well, you’ll already be a step ahead of 500,000 of your competitors. But it won’t be enough. You’ve got to have an absolutely incredible game. You’ve got to market. Social media, YouTube, trade shows, all that stuff.
And if I’m being honest – which I'll admit I'm not always – that still will almost definitely not be enough. But maybe. Just maybe you’ll be the next big thing.