This week we had a talk from Ben Ward who is the owner of Supergonk. Ben discussed a lot about his time in the games Industry, from working in a triple A studio to now working from his bedroom and making more money than he ever has. This move was forced on Ben when Activision shutdown Bizarre Creations, he decided after this to go indie with the designer of Geometry Wars which was a successful Xbox arcade game. This company sadly did not work out for Nigel but now his new company has four million players on just one of the games.
Part of this shift that sees developers moving from triple A to indie is due to the range of platforms now available. These platforms include smartphones, tablets and digital distribution (Brightman, 2013). All these platforms help developers create games with very little overheads. There are also new funding options like crowd funding, which allows companies with a creative idea gain the capital to make the game.
It sounds like the right move to make as you can start up a studio and be your own boss and make lots of money. That is defiantly not the case as Ben mentioned as his first company Hogrocket failed with a good game, meaning he did not get paid for nearly two years. This seems a familiar theme for developers going indie, in an interview Borut Pfeifer says he felt the stress of not knowing when his paycheck would come through. This meant that planning for the future is much harder as you will not know when or how much money you will receive (Brightman, 2013). Working in triple A obviously is much safer in knowing that you will be paid at the end of the month and can plan your money around that.
During the talk Ben also mentioned that you need confidence to have your own studio. With confidence also come contacts and people you can lean on for help. This view is also shared by Damian Isla who thinks self-promotion skills are a hurdle for independent companies. He also believes that the company needs to be able to go to conferences, talk to journalist and build relationships (Ligman, 2013). To do all that Damian listed that you need to have confidence and you need to be able to talk to people to get good coverage of your game.
There are other shortcomings for indie games and one big one is that the market is being saturated. As said before anyone can make and release a game from their bedroom with little or no skill. At one point any game on Xbox live would sell at least 25000 units within a month, now only games with heavy promotion can get numbers like that.
In conclusion going form AAA to indie can be very profitable for an individual. For this to happen you need to create a product that sells you need to be prepared for financial troubles and you also need to be prepared for your game to fail.
Brightman. J, (2013), ‘Going indie: “I’m more scared of staying AAA right now”’, [Online] Available: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2013-10-28-going-indie-im-more-scared-of-staying-in-aaa-right-now [Accessed 8/2/14
Ligman. K (2013) ‘Four AAA share their transition to independence’, [Online] Available: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/204070/Four_AAA_veterans_share_their_transition_to_independence.php
Sorens. N, (2013) “Indie Games are due for a downward correction” [Online] Available: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/NeilSorens/20121217/183709/Indie_games_are_due_for_a_downward_correction.php [Accessed 8/02/14]