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Is it worth to be a indie game developer?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by lorux, Mar 18, 2018.

  1. CodeSlug

    CodeSlug

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    I was going to make a game myself and then make money off it, but then I was given advice to instead learn to become a Full Stack Developer, when I looked at the survey done by stack exchange I saw that jobs for Game Developers were a tiny fraction of the behemoth known as Full Stack Web Developers, even mobile apps take a back seat when it comes to building apps for the web.

    I still am going to make a game just so you know, will do it in my spare time in the space of 10 years. But I must focus on getting out of my current job which is in a warehouse and get a real job as a software developer. In the business field I could actually look around me, even at my current job if I had the skills I could approach my boss with a prototype app that could benefit himself and his business maybe I could even convince him to let me build and maintain a e commerce website and hire me as his web master or something instead of packing boxes in the warehouse.

    You know what I mean? if you guys can see where I am coming from, the opportunities and so many possible ways to make money from the business side of software development is infinitely bigger than indie games.

    I simply cannot afford to put all my eggs in one basket

    From what I have observed in this industry, the only thing that is guaranteed is change, just a few years ago I could make money using joomla and wordpress and templates and build websites for people locally. Today that field is DEAD most will use free website builders from Godaddy or just use a free facebook page.

    Who knows where Indie games will be in years to come? life is hard, very hard this much we know. Many of our existing jobs will be replaced by AI in the near future while the world's population increases.

    It is hard to sell games in this current market, this isn't to say it's impossible. games that fail to sell anything above 100 copies are very trash games, games that the developers themselves wouldn't even touch for free. Games that succeed are ones where people put in a LOT of time and effort.

    I will get a real day job and I will work on my games on the side, when its done its done even if it takes me 10 years. I have no intentions of releasing garbage that not even I would play. IMO I believe this is the key to success, where hard work doesn't go unnoticed.

    There will always be a market for quality where as something cheaply made and generic will always have a way harder time swimming in an ocean of the same thing.
     
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  2. konsic

    konsic

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    Mostly those indie developers who release 10 or 20 games per year. Maybe taking a longer period for reaching the higher production bar.
     
  3. CodeSlug

    CodeSlug

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    Earlier this year I looked through steam spy and carefully diagnosed the games that sold a small amount, what I found was games that failed to make a profit or hell sell anything meaningful were extremely HORRIBLE games. The type of games you find on porn sites that pops up and your anti virus activates. Games far worse than what Sony gives away on PS Plus. Games that not even the developer would touch with a 10 foot pole.

    Where as Axiom verge made millions and was developed by 1 guy over like 5 years or so and I understand he had been learning programming for over 10 years.

    In this industry quality is far more important than quantity. The best advice I think that can be given is get a day job and work on the game in your spare time and many years later when you have something that people would love to play then you release.

    If you think about it, Axiom verge was so good at what it was, a metroid clone that it marketed itself, sites like IGN were happy to report about it, it was a game that was deserving of free marketing.

    You cannot make something in a few months and a generic clone of all things and then expect people to talk about it.

    PS: A guy took the UE4 FPS template and added on a few stuff to it, was like just 1 stage it took him like a couple weeks alone and he sold 1200 copies. LOL So yeah FPS genre sells a lot better and well the better the game looks the better it will sell. Graphics do play a big part
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018
  4. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    Our experience is that sadly quantity wins over quality
     
  5. CodeSlug

    CodeSlug

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    how?

    look at the countless clones of flappy bird now look at Axiom verge, which took longer to make? and which one sold more?

    Quality wins over quantity.
     
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  6. tatoforever

    tatoforever

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    While this whole "gold rush mine" and indie revolution is over (or to put it better, got more stable) there still a market for high quality Indie games, for those who actually stand out of the crowd. There's actually real people who are aware of "small" but well done independent games willing to buy them. But indie doesn't mean scrappy bad games. Indie means, you are on your own and make sure your game is good and well made. And even that, this is only the first half of your success (second half is reaching your audience which is an other whole topic).
    Again, if you are starting in the game industry and wants to become an indie, the journey is gonna be long, hard and rough. Would probably be better to get some game course somewhere and try to get a job on a gaming company. To be a successful indie, you need lot of industry experience, you need to study the market and work hard, probably harder then anyone else.
     
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  7. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Actually I think the closest thing to a true "less than ten words maxim" one can say is, "Marketing wins over not marketing, almost regardless of quality."
     
  8. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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  9. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Ryiah likes this.
  10. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    There is a discussion on the /r/gamedev community for it with some lengthy comments. You might find some good information there too as at least one of the people commenting was at the actual talk.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/comments/86mj68/gdcs_realistic_talk_about_game_sales_on_steam/
     
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  11. AndersMalmgren

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    Hype is a strong thing though
     
  12. Ryiah

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    Hype is an important part of marketing. You want people to be hyped for your game. You just have to be careful not to be too strong about it otherwise you run the risk that people will expect more from your game than you were advertising.
     
  13. Assembler-Maze

    Assembler-Maze

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    Answering the question, it depends. For 90% of the indies out there, it is not worth it money-wise. A day job will probably pay better.

    However, it is your choice if you want to be free or want to be more or less just another piece in the mechanism of some sort of corporation :). I'd definitely say that you should try it out if you can :). But be prepared for a long development time and a huge chance of failure.

    And yes, if you don't know either art or programming don't do it. I really don't recommend learning these just to 'make games'... And if you know any of those, make sure that you love them :). As an indie I've worked 16hr/s a day(well, actually night too). Programming that amount of time if you hate it can be a pain.
     
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  14. theANMATOR2b

    theANMATOR2b

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    Is that really a risk? I'd hate to under deliver - but if we were to mimic AAA marketing efforts or even (whatever most popular on mobile is called - AAAmobile?) - Over Hyping isn't a concern, always results in more users/sales.

    Would NMS have sold as many copies in the first two weeks if the game wasn't over-hyped?
     
    Kiwasi likes this.
  15. Martin_H

    Martin_H

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    Maybe depends on whether you want to release a second game with your studio? I don't see that stunt working twice for them.
     
  16. Lurking-Ninja

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    Well, you can call it 'over-hype', others may call it 'blatant lies'. NMS is a very bad example. It may sold very decently, but the developers have damaged their image extensively in the process. I'm happy that I haven't bought into it and I think I wouldn't buy anything from Hello Games any time soon.
    The problem is, their public figures have promised everything and they didn't have the means to get even close to these promises.
     
  17. tatoforever

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    A good advice would be, "work on a plan B already".
    My company changed from a purely game dev company to both, a game-service and game-company model and it's working out a lot better than "we want to make our dream games" that initially got all of us into the game industry.
    We basically do everything, help other companies with their games dev needs and we make our owns too. Right now working on a Nintendo Switch port and a new unannounced title for consoles that may probably define if we switch to a pure service company or keep using the same existing model.
     
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  18. grimunk

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    There are a good number of studios that do work-for-hire as well as create their own games. It's a tough industry, so anything that helps pay the bills is a good idea.
     
  19. konsic

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  20. Ryiah

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    Wow. They released them earlier than I was expecting. Guess I know what I'll be doing for the next week. :p

    http://www.gdcvault.com/browse/gdc-18

    Edit: Fourteen pages?! Make that a month.
     
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  21. grimunk

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    I wish I had time to watch some of the stuff at GDC this year. Aside from a short stint on the expo floor I was in meetings the whole time :(.
     
  22. Martin_H

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    Thanks for the info! Thought I'd have to wait years again to see some of these. Really cool they're released already.
     
  23. Cherubim79

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    So from my own experiences I learned this. First off like you mentioned games have a hard time getting exposure no matter how good it is. Secondly, I got to a point that I wanted to use Unity to make apps instead of games. Unity is not a good data platform today and goes away from .NET best practices. They're more concerned with particle systems and flashy effects as a company than substance and breaking the fourth wall today. If Unity were doing right they would help with the promoting and exposure in some way, these tech companies in Silicon Valley seem to want you to waste your time and talents for them making content and you get short changed.

    So I hear all the time "you have to have passion", and you do, but if you're getting robbed you need to know when to walk away.

    I'm more concerned for raising money for people locally in DFW and now in Houston that have been affected by disaster, that was my passion for building games. Well, Unity isn't going to get me there, and probably not there either. I'm a Christian and they rejected a simple angel statue I built and wanted to sell for $2, that tells me what I need to know. I also tried to build data and UI components for Unity to help the platform, but in my experience with ignored questions it shows they don't really care about progress with their platform and they're missing out by not listening to me. That's ok don't listen to an AT&T computer programming contest winner who has worked in several industries for big companies including banks.

    There's more than one way to skin a cat, being an adult is about sacrifice. Just make sure what you're doing is about others and not just you.
     
  24. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    Perhaps try godot or something? Seems like you believe Unity to be not quite right for you.
     
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  25. Ryiah

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    For the most part .NET best practices are intended for rapid application development and not high performance games.

    Alternatively the knowledge you offered wasn't anything special or practical for the purposes of game engine development.

    Is performance the primary focus of banking software? Will you be targeting consoles with it?

    Choice of religion has nothing to do with the value of an asset. Unity's Asset Store, at least up until they started dealing with TurboSquid, has had standards you needed to meet and a "simple angel statue" may simply not have been sufficient.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018
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  26. theANMATOR2b

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    Quite right - work to improve on your polish and presentation. The quality was not good enough. Try again, unless giving up after the first attempt is a virtue you subscribe to.
     
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  27. grimunk

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    Yes, this is true. We put up a couple of assets and one of them was rejected for some small reason that I can't remember. We were allowed to make changes and resubmit, and did get it approved.
     
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  28. AndersMalmgren

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    Pretty ironic they use a CLR that is much slower than the official .NET one :D
    Well anyday now they might stop boxing enums when used as generic arguments :p
     
  29. Chrisasan

    Chrisasan

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    It looks like it's only a hobby, unless you got Millions of dollars to higher the A team.
     
  30. zenGarden

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    There is too many game clones, too many games made by programmers with very poor and not attractive art style, too many pixel games because they don't have better drawing skills, too many fps clones leading nowhere that are pale copies of already seen games etc ...
    Because anyone can make games with visual scripting, plugins or game templates.

    There is indeed a demand for high quality, high polished indie games, but only few people reach this quality bar, and sometimes it takes years (Hyper light drifter, Iconoclast, Ghost of a Tale ...).


    If your goal is money or a more stable financial situation, you should better find another IT job not game related or get hired in a big studio already producing games and making good money results.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2018
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  31. Kev00

    Kev00

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    Here is my perspective.

    With platforms like Unity, we have it easy as hell. When I first started out, you had to write graphic card drivers, keyboard interrupt controllers, sound card drivers, graphic engines, use direct x immediate mode, code in ASM etc.... You never got to create the actual game, because you were always trying to write your own engine first. So IMO, there really are no excuses. We have everything we need to create amazing games on our spare time, you just need to learn and aim high.

    Another important consideration is that over the past few decades the gaming industry as greatly matured. I've watched salaries of game programmers increase to the point were they are almost at par with business software developers. When I first started out there were absolutely no game development jobs within 100 miles of where I live. Now game dev jobs are all over the place, and they are paying good money too. In addition, work life balance for those in the game industry has also improved. Many professional game programmers have families and they are finally demanding more.

    On a personal note, I already have a cozy job as a business software development team lead, and with almost 18 years experience I have an excellent pay cheque. My fear, is that if I transition to a full-time game developer and start my own studio I'll take a huge pay cut that won't sustain my current lifestyle.

    Now, do I have delusions that one day I'll be able to escape the madness of writing business software I don't care about? Of course, I do. I hate it . I want out! With that delusion in mind, I've spent the last year creating my own game part time, but chances are very high that it will just become a second income.

    As others have mentioned here, business software is certainly very different than game programming, but IMO, many games are coded terribly. And that's mostly due to the fact that many games are written by hacks, who are not formally trained programmers. Of course, I've seen a ton of junk on the business side as well, written by lazy coders who just don't give a crap, or they over complicate everything. My advice is not to skip programming 101.

    When I first started my game a year ago, I approached the development of my game in the same way I would a business application. I made all the same assumptions. I quickly learned, after many days of refactoring, that even if you are an amazing coder, the demands of game programming require you to focus on very different design patterns. In a game, sub-systems need to talk to each other far more than you can imagine. You really need to get your head around Event Messaging Systems, Subscriber/Publisher patterns, etc. In fact, get a good book on Design Patterns.

    On the other hand, business software is much more linear and to the point. With that said, there are many design patterns commonly used in business software that are transferable. For example, I created layers of abstraction that separate my core game logic from the engine (Unity). I can now drop the engine in favor of another one and not worry too much. In fact, I now view Unity as a presentation layer of sorts. Unity's component object model is perfect for that, but not your game logic. The single biggest boon to my code/game logic is the custom Event Messaging System I wrote, it's not Unity's engine dependent component object model; and beware of drinking that Kool-Aid.

    So first learn how to program, and keep trying. Don't create a crap first game. Make something you really love and want to play first. Even if you don't get it done, it doesn't mater. That experience alone, is much more valuable to you than creating something trivial.

    Lastly, don't contribute to the problem by publishing your own "hello world game" on steam/app store for the sake of making your first game. That advise is junk and it's all over the internet.. No one gives a crap that you created and published your first cracker-jack toy, it means nothing. Make something meaningful.
     
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  32. zenGarden

    zenGarden

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    Coding is not enough today. There is lot of game templates and plugin to decrease the coding you need.

    What about art ? It takes years to get good at 3D art, be able to produce interesting level design.
    Games like Ori , Hyper Light Drifter Ghost of a Tale is first about appealing graphics style, level design and story progress.
    I think it's more easy for 2D/3D artists to get successful than coders that don't have good art and level design skills.

    For example a 3D artist made this game because there is already a complete fps framework, he used visual scripting only.
     
  33. SnowInChina

    SnowInChina

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    i think this is one of these "the gras is greener on the other side"

    there are also a lot of really good art assets you can buy, like stuff from 4k manufactura
    and a lot of poular games have simplistic graphics that basicly everyone could do

    both sides have to work around their limitations and it doesn't hurt to learn a bit coding or 3d art to get by
    as an artist i was always envious of all the programmers and their witchcraft, to the point where i bit the bullet and learned the basics of c#
    at least i can now do all the easy stuff myself
     
  34. Kev00

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    Unless you are making a text based MUD, art has always been important. I don't recall it ever not being important.

    You either pay for art or you pay for code. Or you learn to do both. 3d tools today can really make things easy for you. Of course, you can procedurally generate art assets as well. For example, blender has all kinds of plugins that will automatically generate everything from walls, to characters. Voxel sculpting or even 3d scanning is an option as well. Programmer art can actually look very professional now.

    I think that if you know code, you're not limited to engine specific plugins, and a limited set of game types that you can create. And even if you use plugins to save time, you won't have any problems modifying them and tying them all together. Lastly, your code will look a lot less Frankenstein-ish, and it will be more maintainable.
     
  35. Kev00

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    I agree, but if you want to innovate and not simply make something look good, you need to code. With that said, progress is made when existing things are combined and used in unusual ways. Maybe it is possible for a non-coder to innovate, but I'm not really sure how that can happen.
     
  36. zenGarden

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    But you must have some understanding of what is a good game if your goal is to gain enough money.
     
  37. JonWalter

    JonWalter

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    Yes, there absolutely are a lot of companies that are "hell", as you put it. That's because it's such a desirable field. The opportunity to work at something you love for good pay is an overwhelming thing for many people, and they let it override their good sense. In addition, it's hard to get that first job in the industry, so most people will take anything that comes along. By the time they have enough experience to move on, they've accepted that things are that way everywhere and no longer attempt to find a good work environment.

    Of course, it's possible to avoid that trap, but it's harder than falling into it. Getting a first job in a company that isn't soul-sucking is not easy because everyone else wants that, too. And there just aren't that many of them.

    If you're really worried about all that, you're probably better off working in a field that shares a skillset and then moving over to gamedev afterwards. Business software development isn't nearly as fun-sounding as game development, but it shares many of the same skills, and if you enjoy programming in one, you'll probably enjoy it in the other. (You just may not enjoy using the product(s) of your efforts.)

    Likewise, most art jobs can somehow relate to game development as well, if that's more your cup of tea. I don't have any experience here, though.

    Either way, you'll want to be designing simple games on the side for your portfolio so that when it comes time to switch jobs, you've got a decent portfolio to do it with... And in fact, that very same advice applies right now before you've even gone to school. It's not that hard to find tutorials online, and you should already be working on things on your own.
    Regards Jon Walter
     
  38. derf

    derf

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    Was long ago, probably beyond most developers memories; but there was a time when the graphics of "games" were very low quality or basically non existent and we loved the games anyway. But those days are so far gone makes one feel very, VERY old.
     
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  39. derf

    derf

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    Here's a goody.

    Mystery House 1980
     

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  40. williamadkins

    williamadkins

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    I just released my first game, the way I am looking at it is 'it either flies or dies' I am putting out the effort to get the word out among friends but I am realistic. It is not going to set the world on fire. There are literally 100's of millions of app players in the world, if you pay attention to detail, got a good flow in the GUI, and set reasonable expectations on income then you should do modestly well. BUT you need volume, one game won't do it. Plan for multiple products, the more the more possibilities of hitting a good target audience. And research a target audience, it's a product, it's marketing, it's a business.
    Above all...have fun, if it ain't fun don't do it.
     
  41. zenGarden

    zenGarden

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    When graphics were limited to pixel 8 bit, people were happy because they could not expect better graphics, hardware was limited.
    Selling a game with those pixels will attract a niche of older players, other players will see a bad game because they will not understand how it is possible with current hardware to not be able to draw a detailed house with textures.

    The 8 bit pixel style is a good way to decrease the amount of work on the art side, but i really prefer 16 bits graphics minimum like the ones from 16 bits consoles or Nintendo DS.
    I find 8 bits pixel graphics looks like very lazy games, not attractive, but there is some exceptions
     
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  42. IrvinMG

    IrvinMG

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    what is the name of your game sir?
     
  43. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    I'm not him, but it's called Virtual Warfighter.
     
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  44. IrvinMG

    IrvinMG

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    I'm working on my first game, i have no exp as a own game developer, but i have develop some free-source games, like ragnarok online.

    Ragnarok online is a 2003 game, with "decent" graphics (bad for new generations) .

    Image: http://prntscr.com/j3g3lq

    My peak player was 600 players. its a free to play game with in game donations, and i can earn like 1500 usd per month, wich is not bad.

    Is there a secret to get players? i don't think so, when i decided to move on from ragnarok online private servers to my own game, i thought, "of course i can reach more players, ragnarok is an old game", also people always expect the same things on private servers, you can't modify it that much cause the engine is old and the market is like "if you change the game too much, i'll not play it". So, in steam you have an avarage of 9 million people that connect to the app every day, it doesnt sound crazy to reach 1% of that market, that will be enough to win money if you know how to... but now i come here, and read all this threads, then i search for some games with a highest peak of 11 players.....
    but then again, most of those games with 11 players peak don't even have a fan page... and they don't even test the game before the launch...

    So, the question here is, You want players? all you have to do is to make a playable game and good marketing...
     
  45. Martin_H

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    How do you explain the failure of Lawbreakers then? My impression was the game was received positively by press and players, they've done tons of marketing, and the game mostly failed because "it's not Overwatch".
     
  46. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Yeah, between Overwatch and PUBG it really came in at a bad time. Didn't it release like right as PUBG was getting big?

    I was never going to play a shooter, but it did strike me as a bit derivative. And their next game seems like it's going to have the same problem. They aren't in uncommon niches, but in ones that already have these REALLY big players (Overwatch, and now PUBG/Fortnite). That seems foolish.
     
  47. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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  48. Martin_H

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    I never played it, but as far as I can tell from videos it is one of the more innovative and skill based shooters, with zero g zones where you accellerate by shooting blindly behind you (a feature that you generally can use in other combat situations too I think and is as far as I know pretty unique in the genre) and not very similar to overwatch at all. The problem is that at a glance it looks like overwatch. Almost every review compared it to that game. And I think TB said in his review their tutorials are crap and they don't properly teach the unique things about their game to players, so many didn't even know about the shooting behind you mechanic, which is super important to move around in zero g.

    Imho for multiplayer games no one can predict success and every game can fail, no matter how good or well marketed it is. There are no guarantuees.
     
  49. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2014
    Posts:
    2,389
    Apologies, I didn't mean the gameplay, merely the concept--arena shooter (I understand Overwatch isn't exactly one, but is much like one). Similarly, the next one is battle royale. They may bring a twist, but the initial perception is "isn't this the same kind of game as that other, more popular one?"
     
  50. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2014
    Posts:
    5,406
    Arena shooter and battle royal is very different though. Battle royale is more like a casual version of Survival shooters like DayZ
     
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