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Question Has anybody seen any alternative funding models for games?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by WakingDragon, Jun 15, 2023.

  1. WakingDragon

    WakingDragon

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    There are a lot of indie developers on here, and I am sure not all of them are hoping to make a fast buck (or expecting any return at all). Obviously Unity need to pay the wages so money will have to change hands, but has anyone seen anything like "pay what you think it's worth" or purely donation-based payment approaches for games? Anything that is not typically transactional and sits more with the ethos of the commons?
     
  2. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    Games sold on itchio often use "pay what's worth" model. Expect many people to enter 0 dollars, though.
    Dwarf fortress was originally funded through donations.

    The what now? If people can get a game legally for free, most of them will get it for free. That's the issue with "pay whatever you want" model.
     
  3. WakingDragon

    WakingDragon

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    That's interesting - I didn't know about that option. Thanks!

    Probably true, but "most" is not "all" and if the cost for a few is small then "most" get it for free and the few get value for money.
     
  4. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    I've seen exactly one game do it successfully and @neginfinity already mentioned it.
     
  5. CodeSmile

    CodeSmile

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    You will definitely get far less than 10% of what you would be getting if you put a low price tag on the game. That is assuming it's something that tickles the interest of players.

    OTOH if it's given away for free you will see 1,000 times more downloads that would give you a false impression on how popular your game is, when there's a ton of people who download everything that's free and never look at it. Possibly including bots.

    The most honest approach - assuming you want to earn money - is in fact selling it, period. You get money and a relatable amount of interest. Otherwise you get very little money and an over-inflated but meaningless interest (exceptions are extremely rare).
     
    PanthenEye, DragonCoder and Ryiah like this.
  6. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    i'd give out free copies if you feel certain that people will like it enough to talk about it, write about it, stream it, etc, but you don't have means to do a big marketing reach.

    if it isn't that strong - like its decent game that people might buy, play once, and forget, i'd sell like normal. the initial money you get will be full extent so try to get as much as you can.
     
  7. PanthenEye

    PanthenEye

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    Seen some people posting WebGL prototypes or demos on sites like Newgrounds with alpha/beta early access on Patreon and links to Steam for wishlisting. But it's exceedingly rare to succeed this way unless you're producing adult content or have that 0.001% hit game, which is unlikely.

    You can also look into Sockpop Collective - a group of friends are taking turns releasing one or two games every month. New Patreon supporters only get the latest released game. Past releases can be bought on itch and Steam. And the more successful monthly games are made into full releases like Stacklands. They have some kind of revshare scheme in the group going on. Personally, I consider this to be one of the better indie funding models I've seen. They've been sustaining the release schedule for years and even produced a hit game, but it seems they struck gold only once so far. There's a GDC talk as well.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2023
  8. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    This doesn't quite work if you want to pay your bills via gamedev.

    The only I know game that pulled this off was dwarf fortress.
     
  9. WakingDragon

    WakingDragon

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    Quite interesting responses, although the assumption is that I want to earn some kind of salary from it. I don't - it's just a hobby. And, luckily for me, and to paraphrase an interview with the people from Dwarf Fortress, my wife doesn't have any goals that require me to earn more than I do.

    However, there would be running costs (e.g. Unity's online game services) to cover. But these would be pretty small if the game was designed appropriately. This is what I mean by "most" not necessarily being an issue: a very few people paying 10 euro could well cover the 10c costs for 99 other players. Although @PanthenEye's 0.001% contribution rate would cause problems!
     
  10. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    If you want to keep them at a minimum don't use Unity's online game services. :p
     
  11. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    If it is just a hobby, sure. People released their games for free before. Just don't expect to earn a whole lot from it, otherwise you'll be disappointed. Total lifetime earnings for such release may be under $100.

    With this sort of model the idea would be to eliminate all running costs and reduce them to zero.

    However, I believe "pay what you want" is not a sound pricing model, even if it is a hobby. The problem here is that you're asking people to price your game before they had a chance to play it.

    There are better ways to monetize a free title. You could set up a tip jar, a patreon page, and offer some sort of "support package" which people can buy repeatedly. Then there are paid cosmetic items.
     
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  12. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    not sure what the structure of the game is, but you could take some ideas from the free to play designs. Like let people play the base game completely for free, no strings attached, and if some people enjoy it so much that they want to purchase some additional vanity content, you could sell that. This is kind of like a tip jar but customers get something in return, and it is a way you can more easily justify the time to make extra stuff like character skins.