Indie Game Development: The Future of High Revenue Gaming
Indie games are the new black… or, is it red? I’m not a fashion guy, so stay with me as I struggle through clothing cliches. The point is, we’re at the dawn of the indie game revolution. Never before have so many independent developers or studios made such an impact on the market.
Now, sales numbers for most indie games are relatively low as opposed to their big budget counterparts, but beyond dollars, this shift in gaming is far-reaching as smaller studios are beginning to truly influence the way big development studios are designing, marketing and releasing their games.
Here are just a few of the ways that small indie gaming companies are influencing the gaming market.
Faster to Market
Development time calculated in months – rather than years – is a huge benefit that only the smaller studios have. From idea to conception, some games take just weeks (or a single week) rather than the usual 18+ month development cycle for new games.
The lack of red tape and corporate function is extremely beneficial when most of the hottest mobile games, for example, are all piggy backing on the success of a single breakout star. Look at all the Candy Crush clones in the top 100 on the App Store. Or, 2048 is another great example. Flappy Bird? I can go on, and on.
This isn’t just a mobile “thing” though. Being able to execute an idea from conception to market in a matter of weeks, or months, pays dividends to the bottom line of these smaller studios.
Low Cost, Or Free Releases
The ability (from a cost perspective) for small studios to release their pet projects for free, or at a largely reduced price point (often under $10-$15), leads to buzz and virality that big budget studios have to pay millions for. I don’t see a pricing revolution in the near future for the big studios, such as EA or Ubisoft as the overhead cost alone requires these studios to sell exponentially more games to become profitable.
The value created by indie game studios releasing games for free, and then using companies like Matomy–which lists its ‘freemium’ game on CrunchBase–is a huge benefit that the bigger studios just can’t risk. Bigger titles, Like GTA 5, for example, need to sell millions of copies in order to become profitable. Smaller studios run the same – or bigger – margins by giving away a good product for free, and creating monthly recurring revenue streams due to in-app purchasing, or an option to purchase the premium versions of the same product to remove ads or add extra features.
Lack of Accountability
Not having share holders or a board to answer to leads to some true innovation in gaming. While bigger companies are often afraid to take risks on major titles, the indie gaming community relishes the opportunity to create something truly innovative. If a game flops, they have the freedom to respond to criticism and make the game better, or just to scrap it and move on to the next project. With the ability to get a new game to market within a fiscal quarter, these smaller studios just have a smaller fear of failure, and that lends itself to some real risk taking that you don’t see out of the larger developers.
Indie gaming is here to stay, and some of the biggest titles of the last five years (as far as overall dollars earned and profit margin) have come from smaller, independent studios. With mobile gaming on the rise, and marketplaces on all major systems to sell your wares (as well as on PCs and Macs), the indie gaming revolution is only going to continue to grow over the next couple of years.
What’s your favorite indie title?0