How to make video games for a living ?

  • Hello everyone !

    I seriously consider making video games for a living, but to be honest I don't really know where to start... :-/

    I mean, I have a lot of ideas for simple mobile games and more ambitious projects, and I'm not really worried about "making" the games, but I don't know what I should do to make money out of it.

    I think I should start with simple mobile games to practice and gain self-confidence, but I don't know how to live on this...

    I tried to learn more about AdMob and such, but it's hard to know what you can expect from this, and apparently unless you have millions of players (or a lot actually clicking the ads) the incomes are pretty low... :-/

    Have any of you managed to live on his/her creations and would agree to advise me ?

    Furthermore what should I do to protect my games from plagiarism and such ?

    Thanks a lot for reading, have a nice day

  • Hey, I thought I would throw in my two cents on this, though I don't make games for my job, indie dev is just a hobby for me.

    Making a living from indie games with no experience in the games industry is like climbing Everest backwards in just your underwear - damn near impossible. I don't say this to put you off, just to be realistic.

    If you're going to make simple mobile games and publish them yourself - the only way you'll make a living is if it goes viral and has an original/creative/addictive enough mechanic to keep people playing. Even studio games fail at this sometimes because the market is so oversaturated.

    My advice would be to look at the truevalhalla.com blog. Matthew makes HTML5 games and licenses them to different mobile publishers and game portals, these kind of licensing deals give him a regular income, though as you will see, they are declining and he has had to concentrate on other things to maintain his income. It's still very inspirational to see it CAN be done.

    For more complex titles like strategy/rpg/adventure, most indie developers will save money from another job, e.g. software development, to have enough to support themselves for a year. They then design a game, code it, start marketing it, build a community and audience, test it, polish it and then release it via Steam, GOG, iOS, Android, whatever the chosen platform is.

    If it's a good game and you have marketed correctly, you will make some initial sales - hopefully enough to move onto your next project straight away. These sales will drop off quickly and you'll get some occasional spikes through Steam sales or DLC over the next 12 months.

    (It's key to note they will do this in a team of at least two people, doing it solo will double the time - 2 years at least. It's a lot of work, not just the coding, art, sound and music but also the business admin, marketing, networking, distribution, playtesting etc).

    This topic comes up a lot on the r/gamedev subreddit. 95% of the community there program their games in small chunks on evenings and weekends and hold down a full time job. This is a super slow way to do it but you don't have to worry about money and if the game is viable, you could make a Kickstarter to raise enough to go full time on it.

    So there's my three bits of advice - licensing deals, saving up or kickstarter!

  • Hello Sonable and thanks a lot for your reply, your advises, and the link you shared, I'll take a look at it

    Honestly, it's exactly what I was worried about :-/ As you said, the market is so over saturated it seems really hard to get into the video games business, even when you have a lot of ideas, and especially all by yourself rather than in team :-/

    That's one of the reasons I wanted some advice on this, because I don't want to "waste" years of my life working on projects which wouldn't succeed because of external factors... ^^'

    Of course it's safer to get a full-time job, but you don't get much time to work on your games, so it's a tough choice :-/ I mean you're not worried about the money but you can't really work on your projects and if you don't really like your daily job it can be really depressing too

    Does everyone has the same opinion and would still recommend to find a full-time job, or does anyone have some other tips to share ?

  • No worries ^^ and do check out True Valhalla... By being smart about his clients, working hard and being analytical he's made over $300,000 from HTML5 games and Construct is a HTML5 engine so it could be a good strategy for you to emulate Good luck!

  • Thanks again Sonable

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  • that's really impressive and I'm glad for you that you have such a success with your games

    Since you are here, can I ask you a few questions please ? I guess some of the answers are in your book and I intend to buy it, but I'd like to know your opinion about a few things before getting started ^^

    • How did you start in the video games industry ?
    • On your website, you say you use GameMaker Studio, is that out of habit or did you have compatibility issues with Construct 2 ?
    • Before approaching publishers, how many games should I present on my website ? Should I build a community first or can I introduce myself to them right away ?

    If you're busy you don't have to give me detailed answers, I'll still be glad to learn a little about all this ^^

    Thanks for your time and have a nice day

  • Ratmaster I started 4 years ago with C2 and simple mobile games. From 8 games published to Android, only 2 got serious downloads. From all, the 2 games had 99% from all downloads. To be honest , I don't know why other games didn't get any success, but as the time get by, the downloads started to slow down. When I started I made $3-4/day from ads, but now it only brings me $0.3-0.5/day. Google Play is bad at promoting new games and the big money makers will always make money because they can invest in promotion. The Android market is over-saturated with crap games. I am also a solo developer and I don't ave the energy to also promote and develop my games.

    When every new kid on the block can publish a game after spending 1 hour developing is normal that the market will be over saturated with crap loads of bullshit. The gold rush for mobile game industry is over in my opinion.

  • Cipriux I'm really sorry to read that :-/

    That confirms what I feared... If Google Play had a control system like Steam (to publish games you must pay for a license and have a good enough game to get selected for greenlight) there wouldn't be that much crappy games :-/ and as you said big money makers invest in promotion and get more attention, but unfortunately the market conditions are that way and our all society is centered on ads... Even if you sell a good product (video game, website, cheese, handmade bags...) if it's not well known it's really difficult to sell it :-/

  • Thanks it really helps a lot

    I guess I'll take some time to create a few games (and read your ebook which seems very interesting ) before contacting publishers then ^^

    => Starting with small games for publishers to get regular incomes and improve myself, and then try Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight for bigger projects seems to be a good solution for me, what do you think ?

  • I understand and I think too it's good to be self-reliant if it's possible.

    I was though wondering if Kickstarter may help promote the game and develop a community around it before a greenlight. According to the website "There are no fees if a project is not successfully funded." so even if the kickstarter fails, the game still gains notoriety and people who wanted to support it could still do it in the future ^^

  • > My advice would be to look at the http://www.truevalhalla.com blog. Matthew makes HTML5 games and licenses them to different mobile publishers and game portals, these kind of licensing deals give him a regular income, though as you will see, they are declining and he has had to concentrate on other things to maintain his income. It's still very inspirational to see it CAN be done.

    >

    Thanks for the mention!

    I just want to rectify one part of your comment: my HTML5 income has not been declining, in fact, 2016 was my most profitable year ever. On average, I earned slightly over $10,000 USD per month, which was mostly from HTML5 games.

    True Valhalla, I also need a few answers <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile">

    So, you actually make a game and sell it to some company and they are using it as their own, right?

    How do you find potential buyers?

    Why don't you publish your games on Google Play and monetize them with ads?

  • I started publishing materials (not games) over 20 years ago and most never made much money and then I found a niche with lots of followers and I wrote for that niche and built up a large amount of subscribers that follow my work and the result was I was able to retire and live comfortably from that work and royalties will continue even after I am gone.

    The key is to find a niche and be the best at creating for that niche. For example there are new Zombie games created every day and most never make any money and the market is saturated.

    BUT there are a whole lot of little boys and girls that need and their parents want educational games so make educational games with a Zombie theme and you have a niche no one else is doing.

    Next you should not expect to get rich overnight with one game creation. You might and get very lucky developing the next Minecraft but chances are you won't and that is OK.

    There are 3 ways to become a millionaire. Have a rich family member and inherit it. Sell something worth a million dollars or sell something worth $5 for $1 to a million people.

    Create a great product with lots of features and then make it available for an unbelievable low price or include adds that generate ongoing revenue and publish it for free. Not many people have a million dollars to buy anything but everyone has a buck to spend on something really worth a lot more.

    Create alternate streams of revenue from your games and advertising, youtube videos, and addons and sprite packs are all ways to get people to drop a buck to support an ongoing game with good support.

    Donations and kickstarter for new projects with real potential can also be used but make sure you follow through on your commitment to produce the game.

    Developing a following and using social media and even paid advertising can greatly boost sales and get your product noticed and once you get a following ask them to help promote your game by setting up a forum and keeping your customers notified of updates and addons.

    So, you can spend your time trying to create the perfect million dollar game and some people get lucky but even many professionally designed games fail to generate interest or you can focus on developing many games and when one is getting a lot of interest and developing followers that is the one to focus your attention on and make it go viral using social media and you will start generating income.

    Each game you create is an investment in your design skills and the more games you create the better and faster you get at designing games so invest in your skills, make lots of games and be the best at the niche your choose and the money will follow.

  • This topic comes up a lot on the r/gamedev subreddit. 95% of the community there program their games in small chunks on evenings and weekends and hold down a full time job. This is a super slow way to do it but you don't have to worry about money ...

    As I follow this path I can comment a little. It really takes a lot of time. And time is a big negative effect, but a good point here is that you have a lot of time to think through your game.

    And you are in no rush - just making your game slow but steadily, one step a time.

  • lamar NoSoul8

    I'm glad so many people share their experience and advice in this thread, thank you very much

    I'm working on it little by little, and I hope it will be ok ^^

  • lamar NoSoul8

    I'm glad so many people share their experience and advice in this thread, thank you very much

    I'm working on it little by little, and I hope it will be ok ^^

    Construct 2 community is great! =D

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