Independent video game developers make an average of $79,000 every year. Here’s what you need to know if you want to be an indie video game developer.
Video game development is one of the most popular fields in entertainment technology. Thanks to advances in technology, video games are now more accessible than ever. You can buy their discs in stores, download them directly from the internet or use any number of ways to get the game of your choice.
Because of the appeal of video games, it’s only understandable that making them is also an attractive prospect. According to industry information, an independent game developer can almost $80,000 every year. Becoming a successful independent video game developer could be your dream job or it could only be the first step to becoming a serial entrepreneur.
If you want to become a successful independent video game developer, here are some tips you can keep in mind.
Have a Clear Concept
Video games need a clear central concept, a conflict or goal that it’s trying to accomplish. Before you even buy equipment or start coding, your game needs this central conceit. Games have come a long way from stacking colorful blocks or eating ghosts in a maze.
Is your game about friendship and hard work, like “Harvest Moon”? Is it about survival and terror like “Silent Hill”? Narrow your game to a handful of concepts and you can develop a fully realized and thoughtful experience for your players. Concepts help guide the development of your video game, from the character design to the music and even the gameplay itself.
Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource
Coding and polishing a video game can be enormously difficult on their own already and ensuring the success of your video games will require a lot more than just programming skills. Don’t be afraid to outsource other tasks so you can focus on coding your game.
For example, you can hire freelance artists to create your in-game artwork, rely on professional services for video editing for your marketing efforts, and bring on extra coders if your game development begins to stall. Outsourced help can be the difference between a successful video game company and a failure.
Keep Things Simple
Unless you have hundreds of coders and artists under your command, you won’t be able to create a video game-like “Resident Evil: Village” or “Metroid”. Stick to simple but engrossing games with fun mechanics and interesting concepts. For example, the indie game “LIMBO” was generally praised by critics for its minimalistic look and black-and-white palette because although it was simple, it kept players on the edge of the seats. If advanced graphics and complicated mechanics are beyond your skills, 8-bit games are making a resurgence. These games are simple to code and easier to design, not to mention dripping with retro appeal.
Scope Out the Audience
Unlike companies with massive international fanbases and established game catalogs, your new independent game enterprise will start from scratch. It’s crucial for your success that you pander to what appeals to your audiences. Take your concept and survey your potential customers.
If you are developing an independent horror game like “Slender,” what subgenres are the most popular to your targets? If you are developing a puzzle game, which types of puzzle mechanics will be most appealing? Without surveying your audience, you won’t be able to make the right decisions and you could lose buyers right at the point you need them the most.
Think About Marketing
Starting an indie video game development company doesn’t stop with creating your games. For your products to become successful, you’ll also need to consider effective marketing techniques. Because you will be starting out small, you need to focus on marketing strategies that have high rewards for a low cost.
For example, reach out to small game reviewers on YouTube and Instagram to give your game a playthrough in exchange for honest reviews. You can create social media pages for your company and promote your games on the right platform (i.e., what your target market uses). This is particularly effective because social media marketing tends to cost less than other forms of marketing, making them the affordable choice for new businesses.
Another marketing necessity is optimizing your website because organic SEO boosts your online visibility, generating traffic you could convert into sales.
Finally, remember that you can and should improve your skills in coding and programming as you develop your game. Take online classes on video game development and study the experiences of other people on the field. Enhancing your skills can make your games better and affect the future of your independent endeavor.
Becoming an independent video game developer is difficult, especially with all the competition out there. However, with the right guidance, skills and determination, you can begin a successful career in the field of game development.