Search Unity

  1. Calling all beginners! Join the FPS Beginners Mods Challenge until December 13.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. It's Cyber Week at the Asset Store!
    Dismiss Notice

Indie Successes of 2011?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by MooseMouse, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. MooseMouse

    MooseMouse

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Posts:
    515
    What were the (financially) successful indie games of 2011? I hear about Minecraft and a few others, but I am hoping there were some that quietly made a good profit and slipped under my radar.

    Definitions for this thread's purpose:

    1. Financially Successful - the game(s) made a profit after subtracting all expenses, including paying the creators industry standard wages for their time.

    2. Indie Game - Small teams or individuals. Creators maintained ownership of their game. They did not sell ownership rights to publishers or do work-for-hire projects.

    If those definitions are not complete enough, please feel free to append.

    Thanks!
    Shawn
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2012
  2. PrimeDerektive

    PrimeDerektive

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Posts:
    3,073
    Across any platform? That's going to be quite a bit, heheh.

    Some off the top of my head:

    Magicka
    Frozen Synapse
    Cthulhu Saves the World
    Terraria
    The Binding of Isaac
    Dungeon Defenders
    Jamestown
    Tiny Wings
    Tiny Tower
     
  3. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Posts:
    2,152
    I am not sure if it's fair to say Minecraft counts. Sure, it launched "officially" in 2011, but the thing has been in an "alpha but for sale" status since 2009.
     
  4. MooseMouse

    MooseMouse

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Posts:
    515
    @Tharsman: True about Minecraft, but there may be quite a few projects that took many years to get going (Fez). So I guess its a "Cash Basis" type of list ;)

    @legend411: Nice to hear there are quite a bit! I asked a similar question on a Flash game board awhile back and there were very few. Big success meant the creator was offered a job at a game company (not my goal). And yes, any platform since one of Unity's strengths to the ability to port to different platforms.

    My ultimate goal with this list is to look for non-obvious similarities. Of course all the games have to be "good", but maybe other similarities will become apparent: development time, platform, team size, genre, did they get funding?, etc.
     
  5. windexglow

    windexglow

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    Posts:
    378
    Bastion - I don't think they had any backing until the end (if that).
     
  6. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Posts:
    2,152
    If you want to spot the non-obvious similarity: pro-bono marketing.

    Most big success stories tend to involve a big party placing the game in a very visible position. Most the titles listed by legend411 were given some good highlight by either Steam or the Apple's App Store via features in the front pages.

    Bastion was highlighted by Xbox in its summer Xbox Live program.

    I think that’s also why you don’t get huge hits in the Android world. They don’t do that kind of editorial featuring. And I doubt there is any featuring of Flash games in any medium you can profit from.

    Edit to add:
    And my point with Minecraft is that it was handled more like an MMO. It launched 2009 and it may have evolved it really should not count as a success story of 2011, even if it IS a success story of 2009. By 2011 it was no longer a "success story", but more like a "profitable business."
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2012
  7. PrimeDerektive

    PrimeDerektive

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Posts:
    3,073
    Heh, I would say most of the ones I listed are teams of <10 people, and they could probably retire or close to it :)

    Magicka for instance was a team of 8 dudes, and has sold over a million units on steam @$10, not including the plethora of DLC for it.
     
  8. wccrawford

    wccrawford

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2011
    Posts:
    2,038
    Minecraft couldn't get the time of day until a magazine (non-English) published them. Then the internet got ahold of it and it spread like wildfire, eventually getting into an English magazine as well. And it kept spreading.
     
  9. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Posts:
    2,152
    So: more Pro-Bono marketing!
     
  10. Wolfos

    Wolfos

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2011
    Posts:
    738
  11. ivkoni

    ivkoni

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2009
    Posts:
    978
    Also don't forget my games that have earned double digits on the android and triple digits on the ios market :)
     
  12. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Posts:
    2,152
    Really? Well now!!! Share some tips on how to get noticed! :p
     
  13. CharlieSamways

    CharlieSamways

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2011
    Posts:
    3,423
    I hit both of the points ;D #winning
     
  14. TehWut

    TehWut

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    Posts:
    1,577
    QUBE was more sucessful than I thought. It's largely portal inspired in terms of style, and the gameplay concept is *not too original. I'm pretty sure everyone's thought of something similar, especially with 'blocks' and things being the craze now. Oh well, I salute them for their accomplishment.
     
  15. Meltdown

    Meltdown

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2010
    Posts:
    5,425
    I think Limbo on Steam was a very successful release too.
     
  16. TylerPerry

    TylerPerry

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Posts:
    5,577
    im still $400 in debt :(
     
  17. MooseMouse

    MooseMouse

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Posts:
    515
    Interesting. Why did these games get big party pro-bono marketing? Were they exceptionally original? Did the creators know the right people? Some other reason? Or were they just good/great games plus a nice stroke of luck?
     
  18. taumel

    taumel

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2005
    Posts:
    5,293
    The Indie-Fund Link was interesting. I like the concept of the Indie-Fund but it guess i don't like this Matthew guy.

    Anyway, didn't enjoy Q.U.B.E., it felt unfinished and not really interesting to me but i would love to see more of Faraway. Actually i would buy it blindly just for the art.
     
  19. npsf3000

    npsf3000

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
    Posts:
    3,832
    I'm not quite sure how steam or apple or MS sponsoring a game could be seen as 'probono'.

    I get the point, but I'm seeing a term being repeatedly used in a unusual fashion.
     
  20. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Posts:
    2,152
    Sometimes it is just a matter of luck. Your app may simply land in the right eyes at the right time, when they are in the mood for a specific type of thing. You can do your best to impress.

    I hear Apple loves highlighting games that make them look good, so games that highlight flashy technical pumping graphics are likely to get a feature.

    It's hard to say. With Bastion I think that was a bit of a contest they run every year.

    Best thing you can do is polish your game as much as you can, and make it as fun to play as you can, but this is all obvious and anyone's goal anyways.

    If there was a written formula no one would be asking :p

    Sometimes getting to know the right people help a lot. For instance, if you happen to personally know some reviewer for some high profile magazine like GamePro, you may manage to get a bit of spotlight.

    Going to conventions increase chance of visibility.

    One thing I have learned, though, is that few people care about games that were released in the past. No one wants to highlight or cover old games, so any work you do to try to get to the right eyes has to be done just before launch, not after launch. Hopefully for my next "big" game I'll be able to go to some convention and spread the word around for that new title. Hard to schedule these things in a tight budget with a dayjob, though.
     
  21. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Posts:
    2,152
    Well, the marketting they are providing you is, form your perspective being provided voluntarily, at no expense and without request as a public service for all consumers to have an easier time finding high quality products. That fits the bill for me.

    Although I can see where you coming from... well, it was faster to type "pro bono marketting" than type all that I just typed. ;)
     
  22. npsf3000

    npsf3000

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
    Posts:
    3,832
    So when Woolies puts the tim tams up the front of the isle that's 'pro bono'.

    Pro bono publico (English: for the public good; usually shortened to pro bono) is a Latin phrase generally used to describe professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment or at a reduced fee as a public service. -wiki

    Now these cases are neither for the public good [advertising to your own customers is not 'public good'] nor is it 'without payment or at reduced fee' - the advertising is specifically geared to sell copies of games to their customers and they take a cut accordingly of these sales.

    An example of pro bono work is a legal firm providing free/reduced rate services to an animal shelter. Note how it's not providing services to its customer base nor does it expect to make money off of the deal.

    Why is this important? Because many people do pro bono work, and to change the meaning to simply selling your customers a new product diminishes what they are doing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012
  23. MooseMouse

    MooseMouse

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Posts:
    515
    True :) But I am hoping that by analyzing these successes I can find some tidbits to have a little more control over my situation.

    As far as the "Pro Bono" definition, I agree with NPSF3000 (and the dictionary). It is not accurate to call it "Pro Bono", but I understand what Tharsman was trying to convey.. and it is an excellent point. Most of these games got a big marketing push that the creators did not pay for.. at least up front. Maybe they made some deals behind the scenes? I am not suggesting anything unethical.. maybe they just gave some profit share in exchange for marketing assistance?
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012
  24. Aiursrage2k

    Aiursrage2k

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Posts:
    4,825
    Thats not true touch arcade will talk about games that got updated, (I think if you make a significant one they might) but usually its whatever the reviewers fancy
     
  25. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Posts:
    2,152
    @MooseMouse: It's my understanding that at least Apple, Steam and Microsoft dont take anything from you in exchange of the highlight, nothing other than the ability to brag about the great title that is available in their platform. Although Steam has an interest in selling the games and getting a slice of the sales, Apple and Microsoft are likely to both highlight entirely free software that gets them nothing (other than the stated pride.)

    Some web magazines do charge for reviews, but it's my understanding they do next to no impact. Heck I seen some crazy stuff being offered by online magazines... from offers to pay for priority, (no warrantee of review, just access to a priority queue) to selling reviews that I get to approve (they don’t warrantee a good review but if it’s a bad one they let me tell them not to publish it.) BTW no, I never went for any of these, as I said, I heard everywhere they do you no good.

    I do hear some publishers do know enough people inside of Apple to encourage their titles get exposure (I’m talking people like EA though, not indies.)

    @NPSF3000 As I said "I can see where you coming from". Don't agree it's as important to make it a derrail topic in this thread.

    Besides, the "probono" term has been cheapened by worse things than my "loose use" of the word. These days most people call "probono" to a "chance to prove themselves by working for free", companies literally demanding free work under the probono label and saying they won’t hire anyone without some probono work first to "evaluate." Given that recent widespread usage of the word, I don’t think my use is worth going over the importance of misuse of the word in the thread.
     
  26. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Posts:
    2,152
    I have never seen them talk about an updated game that was not covered during it's launch, however even Apple treats content updates (no plain updates and bug fixes) as new content and tends to re-highlight them, and thats the first place Touch Arcade looks at for stuff to write about.
     
  27. Aiursrage2k

    Aiursrage2k

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Posts:
    4,825
  28. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Posts:
    2,152
    Given iOS economics, I think it's safe to say every game that has been in the top 10 during the entire year made it's production costs back.
     
  29. Alric

    Alric

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2009
    Posts:
    332
    Apple like Unity or any store puts good products in prominent positions because it is directly beneficial to them for their customers to see good products that they may wish to buy. It is in their own best interests. Success breeds success in a snowball effect, and that's part of it. Does not somehow diminish indie-ness. For example, Minecraft being picked up by the media was mentioned. Minecraft was doing plenty well before then - but the media attention led to plenty well snowballing into ridiculously well.
     
  30. Mr.T

    Mr.T

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2011
    Posts:
    546
    It is not my intention to derail the thread, but I don't know where else to post this.

    Tracking back from the Q.U.B.E. website to the indie-fund.com website, I see another game over there called 'Dear Esther'.

    I was just wondering, in what game engine that game 'Dear Esther' was made. The graphics and especially the way the terrain is constructed look awesome. If someone knows, please post the info.

    EDIT: Never mind. After some digging around, I finally looked up wiki and found out that it was made with the Source Engine.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012