Search Unity

The scary stats about indie developer.

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by toto2003, May 29, 2017.

  1. toto2003

    toto2003

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2010
    Posts:
    510
    i was watching this , it s an old video but that scare the S*** out of me.
    i knew being indie was tough, but 95% are not profitable and 80% has lost revenue, that sound crazy!

    and it was in 2013
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Murgilod

    Murgilod

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2013
    Posts:
    6,795
    Not really surprising at all if you're friends with enough indie devs who have actually released games. Making and putting a game out there is a surprisingly expensive process and you're likely never going to see that money again unless you make a surprise hit.
     
    derf, Ryiah, Kiwasi and 1 other person like this.
  3. Ironmax

    Ironmax

    Joined:
    May 12, 2015
    Posts:
    892
    I am pretty sure Steam greenlight was not taken in to account here.
     
  4. Martin_H

    Martin_H

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2015
    Posts:
    3,975
    4 steps to success:

    1. get a "real" job
    2. enjoy gamedev as a hobby
    3. ???
    4. profit
     
  5. Deleted User

    Deleted User

    Guest

    Can't say this is news.!
     
    neoshaman likes this.
  6. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2013
    Posts:
    16,664
    Like you said, it's an old video. Today's numbers are closer to 99% are not profitable and 95% lose money.
     
    LaneFox, Ryiah, GarBenjamin and 3 others like this.
  7. toto2003

    toto2003

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2010
    Posts:
    510
    i got to laugh at this youtube comment
    "you know why 95% of all indie games are a flop??? Not because of marketing.. BECAUSE THEY ARE S***!!!!! GAMES!!!! I have watched HUNDREDS!!!! of these panels.."

    so true tho... that make even harder for indie to make a game that not look like a Sh.. or a clone of something.
    My dream to live from my indie game start to fade away....
     
    Martin_H and neoshaman like this.
  8. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    8,050
    I'll bet you'll find similar numbers for virtually and creative field with a low barrier of entry. Music, singing, dance, visual arts, writin, photography, etc. even sports. When it's something that virtually anyone can do, you have to be in top of your field to make a living at it.
     
    aer0ace, zyzyx, dogzerx2 and 15 others like this.
  9. theANMATOR2b

    theANMATOR2b

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2014
    Posts:
    7,781
    That damn #3!
    It's a mystery - we all do a little different.
     
    Martin_H likes this.
  10. particlemars

    particlemars

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2016
    Posts:
    30
    #3. is scary it could be Wall Street or Federal reserve. Credit default swaps. Credit crunch. National debt 1 trillion dollars. P versus NP.


    #4 no profit.
     
  11. Not_Sure

    Not_Sure

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2011
    Posts:
    2,671
    Those numbers are only scary when you don't realize that 90% of self proclaimed indie developers have no business trying to sell products as low quality as they do.

    It would be one thing if these indie devs were making proper products, but the reality is that 95% of devs release sub-par quality content and 80% of those titles are a one time effort never to be repeated.

    It would be one thing to make a great effort, fail, and repeat several times and still not succeed. But the reality is that most of those numbers are more like kind-of-sort-of try, fail, never try again.

    Want a good example of how this is true in other avenues?

    Go peruse artists sites like deviantart.com and see how many people have no business trying to be professional artists that do. Sites like that are packed to the gills of people who don't put in the time and effort to become commercial quality artists but are failures that blame everyone and everything for their short comings.

    I hate to be that guy, but this generation of young people is really full of kids who think the world owes them something, that businesses exist to further their life plan, and that skill and quality is secondary to being "creative" and "special".

    That's extremely harsh and negative, I know.

    But if you're listening, what I'm actually saying is that success isn't that unlikely if you're willing to put in the effort.

    And the biggest thing you have to be ready to do is put in 60 to 80 hours a week. You have to learn to control your scope. And you have to be able to accept failure and try again.
     
    Misastra, aer0ace, AHambrick and 5 others like this.
  12. Meltdown

    Meltdown

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2010
    Posts:
    5,441
    Spot on.

    If you make a polished, decent quality production, I think your success rate becomes much better than 5%.
     
  13. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2013
    Posts:
    16,664
    True. The numbers for game dev are skewed by the general low barrier to entry.

    But the numbers for any small business succeeding are pretty stark. In general only about 50% of all small businesses reach the five year mark.

    So even if you have a decent product, the business side can still chew you up and spit you out.
     
    TeagansDad and theANMATOR2b like this.
  14. Deleted User

    Deleted User

    Guest

    What do you class a "low quality"? I mean it's entirely subjective, I wouldn't class flappy birds as a high quality modern game due to complexity alone but it still did extremely well for itself. At 60 to 80 hours a week you'd have an extremely polished flappy bird in a week..

    But I am playing devils advocate, because I always deem these as the exception not the rule and they're nothing to bank on. They are by nature flukes and / or fads that have no fiscal consistancy. Many of these developers that "made it" had 50 games+ proceeding before it and some have released probably hundreds of games over the span of five years never to even grace the top ten.

    But many still talk about Baldurs gate, in years to come I'll bet we're still talking about games like Witcher 3.. We're so lost in nostaligia and shouting for good games that a remake of FF7 is a "thing".

    Just to play devils advocate one more time, I was recently having another go at the last of us for inspiration.. From a players perspective it is an awesome game well worthly of it's critical acclaims. From a developers perspective there are a lot of issues, blocky looking poorly re-topo'd meshes, UV warping / stretching / seams in most places you look, what appears to be mocap in some areas and none in others.. There's also quite a few bugs..!

    Still, again it's one of the best games I've played and holistically better looking than near enough any indie games I've seen actually released but by that logic do they have any business being a "professional games developer"? Well of course they do, that's the tricky thing about "quality" the holistic picture (the game as a whole) means far more than a single instance. Not that I condone outright sloppyness or lazyness in a paid product, it's just they are smart about picking their battles.

    Also they were responsible for Uncharted 4, which if you've played it looks and plays amazing.!!!

    Anyway, I'm happy to spend more time creating the game I want with as little compromises as possible because the alternative isn't worth pursuing in the first place IMO.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2017
    aer0ace, Not_Sure and theANMATOR2b like this.
  15. imaginaryhuman

    imaginaryhuman

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2010
    Posts:
    5,697
    So what are we saying then, that MOST indie developers are really just hobbyists and ameteurs who sort of know a thing or two about games but not about how to make really good ones...? And only a small percentage of people developing actually know how to make a 'business' out of it and be successful?
     
  16. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2013
    Posts:
    7,442
    At the core I think that fits well. Then on top of that as someone mentioned above a person needs to be able and willing to put all of the time in. They can have that "know how" on both sides but that is just the basic requirements, right? Need to then put it all to use and treat it seriously (as in pouring loads of time in).

    Saying that I do think many people learn those things (game side and biz side) through the practice of making and releasing many games. Wo probably the real key is to spend as much time as possible on the computer constantly working on a game (not messing around programming systems for the heck of it or making art for the heck of it but actually pushing a game forward).
     
  17. RichardKain

    RichardKain

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2012
    Posts:
    1,256
    Well, some indie developers are hobbyists. Some are really, really lucky. (Notch) And some are shameless hacks who will do anything for a dollar. (a very large number of Steam Greenlight abusers) If you don't fall into those categories, you are most likely one of the "starving artist" developers who are desperately trying to make things work, and hopefully get your own lucky break. (become the next Notch)

    The problem is that becoming Notch has roughly the same odds as playing the lottery, and your hard work has very little to do with the end result. (which largely consists of simply having the right product at the right time, and the right exposure, usually not due to your own efforts) So many starving artist indie developers waste away in obscurity for years before eventually caving and getting jobs in other industries. The same is also true of the actual game industry, where most developers burn out before their mid-30s and leave to work in other industries.

    Being a game developer is hard, no matter how you slice it. Almost no one wants to pay you for your work, indie or otherwise, and you usually end up working paycheck to paycheck. Making it in the game industry is kind of a crapshoot or a slog, which is why you have been hearing more about people treating it as a hobby as opposed to a career. There are just too many failed developers to ignore.
     
  18. dogzerx2

    dogzerx2

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Posts:
    3,837
    Yeah, imagine if anyone would just be allowed to practice, say, medicine, or engineering or architecture without years of prior learning. Numbers would be even worse. Luckily it's illegal.

    But bad games don't put people's lives at risk so ... no harm no foul? I say keep on making games! Just don't expect to be a pro on the first few tries. If you'd try to be an indie doctor ... your first patients would die probably ... it wouldn't be pretty ... don't do that guys! I've said too much D-:
     
    zombiegorilla likes this.
  19. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2013
    Posts:
    16,664
    It's not really luck. It's because we have a history of blowing things up and killing people. Highly regulation tends to come only after high consequence failures.

    That's probably one of the biggest reasons why I'm attracted to the no consequence world of games.
     
    dogzerx2 and Martin_H like this.
  20. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    8,050
    Is that the royal "we"? ;)
     
    Martin_H likes this.
  21. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    8,050
    Yea, to me, like those other fields, you do it because you love it. I have many friends who are musicians (not professionally) who do it with passion and no expectation of ever making a career of it. If you make games because you love doing it, you'll never really fail.
     
    aer0ace, dogzerx2 and angrypenguin like this.
  22. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    Posts:
    12,487
    That's a part of it. My thoughts, for anyone who wants to make a career out of it:

    - Don't "work on" games. Finish them.
    - Finishing games isn't enough. You want to be improving your craft.
    - Being technically good isn't enough. You need to be improving your business as well.

    See @ShadowK's comment about successful developers having released many games before they hit their success. This meant that they got a lot of practice at the technical aspects of making games. It also means that they got a lot of practice at releasing and/or selling them and all of the things that entails.
     
  23. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2013
    Posts:
    16,664
    I'm personally not responsible for any explosions or fatalities. I do bear partial responsibility for a couple of hospitalizations. But the industry as a whole doesn't really have a brilliant record.

    On of my early mentors had a saying about chemical companies. 'There are companies with rigorous safety practices, and there are craters.'

    Which is why I program games as a hobby. No matter how badly I mess up, there will be no craters.
     
    Martin_H and zombiegorilla like this.
  24. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    Posts:
    12,487
    I'm sure we could find an edge case for that...
     
    Martin_H and zombiegorilla like this.
  25. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2013
    Posts:
    16,664
    Well, Notch did come up earlier. Weren't the creepers originally a bug?

    Notch messes up and creates an explosion and becomes heralded as the greatest designer in recent times.

    If I mess up and create an explosion and I'll be facing criminal charges.

    ;)
     
    Ryiah and zombiegorilla like this.
  26. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    8,050
    Also, being there is so much involved in creating games, and is often a team sport, it is good to know and play to your strengths and understand your weaknesses. I am good at what I do, very good. But I am also very aware where the edges of my wheelhouse are. I'm not very interested in game design as whole, and have no delusions that I can be successful in that arena. The broad strokes and the minutiae I am good with, but middle bulk isn't my cup of tea. But I have several friends and colleagues who are amazing in that area. Same with business and marketing. I know enough to get by, but prefer to leave that to others who are good at that (its not an area you can be "ok" at). Building great relationships is great way to fill in your gaps and focus on the parts you are good at and enjoy.
     
    angrypenguin and Kiwasi like this.
  27. Not_Sure

    Not_Sure

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2011
    Posts:
    2,671
    Same.

    My trouble is that I feel that I have a great sense of mechanics and gameplay, but lack in level design and structured code.

    But I do feel that I can improve on both of those things.

    I could also most likely get my artistic abilities to the point where I could do all my own art, but you need to pick your direction.

    I will say that one of my least favorite words in the English language is "talent", mainly because it is often interchanged with the word "skill". Calling someone "talented" is really just undermining the time and effort they put in to craft a skill.

    Obviously talent is a thing and plays a huge role in how fast a skill will progress, but in western society I feel like anything less than instant success at something is viewed as a lack of talent, and not the fact that no effort has been made to improve.

    So that kid who puts in minimal effort and fails only once marks it up as a lack of talent, rather than actually trying. Then says to them self that it's the system that's failed them and not their lack of effort.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2017
    aer0ace likes this.
  28. AHambrick

    AHambrick

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2012
    Posts:
    9
    If you design, create and finish the game YOU want to play, then you will never fail. If you do this and actually still like your game once you have finished it, then market it. If you are lucky, others may like it too and you will be rewarded by that thought if not with money. If you start designing a game with dollar signs in your eyes, failure is almost assured. In my opinion, making and releasing a game you know is crap, and expecting money for it, is little different than E-begging.
     
    AbhishekRaj and nipoco like this.
  29. toto2003

    toto2003

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2010
    Posts:
    510
    the issue is sometime love don t bring food into the table... so yeah there should be a right balance between normal living and and living for your passion.
     
  30. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2013
    Posts:
    16,664
    That's what the day job is for. :p

    That said, I note with growing optimism that in western society its getting more and more practical to live off of just passion. Content creators on YouTube are a prime example of this. We are starting to run out of useful things to do, so we are inventing frivolous things to pay people for.
     
    Not_Sure and Martin_H like this.
  31. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Posts:
    26,497
    Just replying to the OP but... how much chance do you have making it as an author, a musician and an actor?

    It's the same. Why do people assume games are the easy prey? You do have more chance of making more money making short films for amazon prime and netflix. That's the reality.

    You have to love it to do it, and want to. If you're only doing it for money you WILL fail. Because games thrive on the creator's passion, they grow and become good because there's something the creator has to give it. If nobody can understand that, they don't deserve to be game developers and thankfully, won't earn anything.
     
  32. toto2003

    toto2003

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2010
    Posts:
    510
    i m not agree, i see tons of exemple of developer who make money with clones and souless games, you have to treat game development as a business not a passion or hobby if you are serious making a living, it s where lot of passionnate beginner fails, but of course if you are passionnate is a BIG plus into the skillset u need to be successfull as indie.
     
  33. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Posts:
    26,497
    Good luck then.

    Even though what you said contradicts your original post. Basically, you need a good game. The idea you can just pump out something and get the marketing right is only relevant for tiny games that won't get reviewed. Your entire strategy is built around the impulse buyer.

    Problem with that strategy is:

    1. The impulse buyer is getting smarter. Yes, times change. Specifically from 2008 to now.
    2. You likely need to make your game free to survive on mobile. This means you need to make something people enjoy. Because you can't hide.

    Exercise:

    Examine Monument Valley vs Crossy Road. Both Unity titles, find out why both were successful for different reasons on the same platform.

    What did you learn?
     
  34. toto2003

    toto2003

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2010
    Posts:
    510
    well if making clone and sh... game bring money to the table , then why not, but not really a path i d like to go with, but that s the problem lot of "business dev" doing it, that s why the market is oversaturated with these craps, look at this guy he release more than 130 games with unity in less than 2 years, it s about 5 games per months! holycow! i wish i could have this rate on my own games ... but there no way :)
    http://appshopper.com/search/?searchdev=998054463&sort=name&dir=asc

    and it s one of many, so yes you have to be not only unique and special, but know where you re heading to if you are planning to quit your job and do that fulltime as indie.
     
  35. dogzerx2

    dogzerx2

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Posts:
    3,837
    A little history, early doctors, a.k.a. indie doctors from medieval times, had no degree at all and often would use wildfire to treat a patient wounds, not knowing that thing burns nonstop for hours, killing thousands ... then they decided it was more effective as a weapon of mass destruction if catapulted against entire enemy fleets!
     
    Aiursrage2k and Kiwasi like this.
  36. Aiursrage2k

    Aiursrage2k

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Posts:
    4,830
    Well you could always build up a fanbase by catering to your really niche audience and maybe growing it. Rather then trying to go after the same general audience everyone else is going after but thats more of a long term strategy
     
    GarBenjamin and dogzerx2 like this.
  37. derkoi

    derkoi

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2012
    Posts:
    2,022
    Pleased that I'm not in that percentage and bought myself a fast car, holiday home and tons of other cools stuff. lol
     
    hippocoder likes this.
  38. Zephus

    Zephus

    Joined:
    May 25, 2015
    Posts:
    181
    He might have phrased it in a bad way, but I actually agree with his point.

    Every single time I see a panel or article like this about a game that flopped, I go to see the game they're talking about and - what do you know - it's just not good enough.
    Not that all those games are bad. But they are games that immediately make me think 'yeah, no wonder that didn't become successful'.

    There are certain qualities a game has to have to even be eligible for generating revenue. Doesn't matter if your game plays well, is technically sound, creative, or whatever. It has to be something that can be talked about, something that feels relevant, something that appeals to a mass audience while simultaneously being all of the above.

    I've seen an article about this game with an octopus that has gravity mechanics and plays a bit like Super Meat Boy, that also wondered why it didn't become a hit. Airscape I think?
    I'm really sorry for the devs since the game is creative and polished like no other unsuccessful game I've seen, but in what world would this be something that could ever be as popular as something like Braid, Limbo, Undertale?

    The very ideas of those games had the potential to be as huge as they have become, but some games just aren't meant for that. And that's fine. Some of the best games I've played didn't appeal to the masses, and we need those games.
    The thing is that the moment I see the devs wondering why something like this doesn't become huge, I always wonder why they went with that idea when their goal was to make a surprise hit.
     
    Ryiah likes this.
  39. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Posts:
    26,497
    Yeah well guess what? that S***ty title is hard to make, still.
     
    zombiegorilla and Schneider21 like this.
  40. Hikiko66

    Hikiko66

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Posts:
    1,021
    It's a pity that modding support never became a "given" for AAA games.

    That was a great way for hobbyists to make high quality games without doing all the work.
    You don't have to make the AAA game, that's just what you start with.

    Some of the best games were mods.
    Team fortress
    DOTA
    Left 4 Dead
     
    Martin_H and Ryiah like this.
  41. Ryiah

    Ryiah

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2012
    Posts:
    15,349
    How many examples are you talking about though? Because it's important to remember that there are thousands of games being released every single day to each of the mobile platforms. Out of those thousands a few of them might achieve some form of success and for the bulk of those that's with the business approach.

    If someone is in this industry without being passionate about game development then they would be far better off going to a different industry. It would be less stressful and the pay would likely be better too.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2017
    Martin_H likes this.
  42. dogzerx2

    dogzerx2

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Posts:
    3,837
    In my super tiny experience, with only 1 release, what I can share for what it's worth, is that the problem is not that making a living out of gamedev is unlikely ... it's that it takes too long. And it has been too underestimated, probably still is.

    We analyse the 95% non-profit stats in a very basic and linear manner.

    We gotta break those numbers apart! Here are some important questions we should ask ourselves:

    * What % of those games took less than 6 months to make?
    * What % of unsuccessful games are 1st releases?
    * What % were done by people with less than 2-3 years of experience making games?

    Now, lets ask ourselves, what are the success rate for games that took more than a year of production, by people who have released at least 5 or 6 titles, and have more than 4-5 years of experience?

    I don't know the answer to that last question, but just a hunch? it's probably a much better than 5%. What do you guys think it is? I'd say it's like 70% chance of success, if not more. Maybe it's 90%. But we don't see it in overall stats, because most people don't get to that point.

    In any other venture you wouldn't expect to succeed with the first book, or music composition, or your first few anything ... but somehow we expect differently from games? So we think perfectly normal stats are "scary".
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2017
  43. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    8,050
    I'm not sure there are tons of examples of that, there are a few, but they are part of the same stats, about as common as small passion projects that make money as well.
     
    Ryiah and Kiwasi like this.
  44. Carwashh

    Carwashh

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2012
    Posts:
    441
    L4D came from a mod? :eek:
     
  45. Hikiko66

    Hikiko66

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Posts:
    1,021
    Yeah, L4D was bought by valve half way through development

    And before Half life even existed, Team Fortress was a Quake 1 mod
     
  46. Carwashh

    Carwashh

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2012
    Posts:
    441
    That doesn't make L4D a mod... L4D was just made using the Source engine, by a company that already worked closely with Valve.

    I know about TF (played TFC for many years) and were DOTA came from.
     
  47. RichardKain

    RichardKain

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2012
    Posts:
    1,256
    If your only objective is to make money, it will seriously effect how you develop games. If you're okay with that, than go for it.

    While I would love to be able to support myself with my game development efforts, it's simply not feasible with my current circumstances. And I'm not too eager about compromising my design and quality standards for the sake of making money. Chasing this particular dragon involves a level of personal quality-of-life sacrifice that I'm not comfortable with, and the promise of return is suspect at best. I've seen too many indie teams grinding away on a project for a year or more only to end up without enough sales to sustain their business. It's easy to say that "they couldn't hack it." But often times the truth is that they simply get lost in a sea of competition. Yes, they technically couldn't hack it. But with the mountain they were struggling against, is it really a surprise?

    Don't look to blame developers for failing to make sales. Often times the best indie game projects are the ones that DON'T turn a profit, specifically because the developer invested more time and effort into them than they should have. It's the crappy small, simple games that usually end up making money, because the costs were low enough and the turn-around was fast enough. You can't conflate quality and financial returns in this business. The two are quite often at odds.
     
    Ryiah and aer0ace like this.
  48. nbirko2928

    nbirko2928

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2012
    Posts:
    125
    Before I say this, I want to point out that I'm not a successful indie game developer (Maybe some day). But the right mindset to succeed is to focus on things in your control. The percentage of failure is not something you can control, so why dwell on it?

    I think we should all accept that failures are more likely to happen, and if you look at the majority of success stories out there, you'll notice that the people behind those great games have come a long way to reach their success, it was not their 1st title.
     
    Ryiah and dogzerx2 like this.
  49. Schneider21

    Schneider21

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2014
    Posts:
    2,907
    Not counting shovelware devs, I don't think anyone sets out to create a crappy or even sub-par game. Everyone thinks their game has what it takes to make it big. When you're passionate about something, it's so easy to lose your perspective and see the game only as you want to see it, not the way others will. I'm not even sure if there's a way around that...
     
    Ryiah likes this.
  50. aer0ace

    aer0ace

    Joined:
    May 11, 2012
    Posts:
    1,212
    Let alone Half Life being a mod... forgetting to mention it, for shame. ;)
     
unityunity