Money or passion?

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  • Greetings everyone!

    For past couple of years, I've been learning to use Construct 3 to understand programming logic and how a game should be structured (in code). So far so good, the learning process has come into a situation, that I could actually start creating something "real". For now, I've been working as part of big or small teams, but this time it's just me.

    I've been in the game industry for almost ten years now working as an artist, designer, project manager, and producer but never had a chance to do programming. Of course, I've been releasing games for mobile and PC and see the "both sides" of the industry. Now, when thinking what kind of a game should I personally make, I'm struggling to make the right decision. ... Why?

    Game industry today is focusing more and more to mobile game development since that's where the money is. Of course, mobile is much more casual friendly, which in most cases means that the players are not seeking for "deep experiences" from the gameplay, it's more of a "something I can do while waiting for a bus" - a type of experience. PC gamers are the opposite, who seek deep experiences from their games and something, in which they can put hundreds or maybe thousands of hours of game time.

    I personally fit into the latter "focus group" and I'm always trying to seek that "one game" which I could dedicate my time to. I don't even know anyone, who plays casual mobile games, I personally don't play them and I have no idea what kind of person does so. So how could I be able to create entertaining casual mobile games, if I don't know anything about them and don't understand their player?

    I've been trying a different kind of casual game mechanics, but end up being uninspired from them and keep on thinking of different PC games I could be creating. So the question is, should I just go with PC games and do what I'm personally interested, or try to follow "the money" to mobile?

    What are your thoughts on this? When answering, stop for a moment and think that if you're supposed to make the living out of making games, what would be the best option and why? It's always easy to say "follow your dreams" and so forth, but in the end, it's not that simple. Or is it?

    And hey, if you make games as well, join my game jam next weekend! It's 24th of this month and will last for 24 hours! Hope to see you jamming, have a great week!

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  • That´s a question I´ve been pondering over for a while now. I´m also not really a mobile gamer, I mean I´ve played some for some time but that´s about it. The reality is, a mobile game usually has very short development times.

    This has some interesting benefits. Imagine you have 1 year spare time, no day to day job, you are a solo-dev:

    In 1 year, how many mobile games do you think you can make? Probably 6, possibly more. But let´s assume you make 6.

    In 1 year, what kind of game can you make for PC? Is a year even enough time? Of course this also varies on the type of game etc. but lets assume your scope isn´t super-huge and you make 1 game. (As a reference: Dust - An Elysian Tail was planned to take 3 months but ended up taking over 3 years, made by a one-man-army)

    So, same timeframe, but on mobile you pushed out 6 games while on PC you made one. And lets be real, there is NO guarantee that any of the games you made will be popular. BUT on PC you only have one shot, if this one game flops... well that´s it. On mobile, if 5 of the games flop you still got the 6th. In other words, your chances on mobile are better than on PC to make something that a lot of people will play.

    And about money... the thing is it is kinda required to have. Most people (like me) have to go to work for it. This means less time to work on games, working on games... after work. I don´t doubt there are people who can do this with long-term-projects but unless you are leaking dedication out of every orifice it is unlikely. I´m not the type of person that can do this. A mobile game on the other hand... it seems so much more doable in it´s scope. And if it´s a Hit, it will open up the opportunity to really follow the passion.

    So if you make your one big PC game and it flops... what are you gonna do? Maybe you satisfied your passion with it, that´s fine, but you still need money to pay your bills afterall. That´s why I´d say... chase the money, then use the money to chase your passion.

    An interesting quote from Walt Disney in that regards

  • Money on mobiles?

    Most mobile developers make no money. Not real money you can live on in the US or Europe.

    So making one really "deep" game and releasing it on steam could make you more money than all the mobile games you release from today to 2030. Of course there are no guarantees either way. Most games on Steam make no money either, but that is because they are garbage mobile like games or re-skinned Unity tutorials/assets. Real games on Steam do seem to still make at least some money.

    Sure, you may get lucky and your games become as hit, but odds are about the same as winning a lottery.

    If you have a day job and do not depend on this one game you want to make, I'd say go for PC since that is what you prefer and like. Even if it flops you still have a job and a game you made your way. With mobile games if they flop ( most likely scenario ) you will have a bunch of flops and shitty games even you do not like.

    And finally, there is nothing preventing you from working on one big PC game while simultaneously working on a couple of mobile games ( let's say a couple of hours every few days for that, when you don't feel like working on anything else and are stuck with big game development and need a break )

  • This right here:

    If you have a day job and do not depend on this one game you want to make, I'd say go for PC since that is what you prefer and like. Even if it flops you still have a job and a game you made your way. With mobile games if they flop ( most likely scenario ) you will have a bunch of flops and shitty games even you do not like.

    I totally agree with this and might even the final reason for me to start making PC games. In the end, making ANY money from mobile is rather hard and time consuming. If you just keep creating two week projects for mobile and drop those to the store and hope for the best, you will end up having pile of shitty games you don't even like.

    By the way guys, would be lovely to continue chatting on Discord. If you happen to use it, hop into our channel:

  • In my opinion it should not be that you dream of making a living out of game development but more so that you dream of having a completed and released game which is an achievement in itself, and then continue to make games as a passion whether they make money or not.

    I am in a similar situation to yourself and if you have a steady job in the games industry then the money made as an indie dev shouldn't matter as much, so you can enjoy the process of making games. You won't need to frantically ship out cheap and tired mobile games in the hope of making some easy money, but also you should keep an eye on the scope of a passion project and not spend years on it for it only to be half complete and unused.

    Think of an idea for a game you want to make and try and complete it, which admittedly has been the toughest obstacle to overcome for me as I've found keeping interest in one idea to be one of the hardest things to do as an indie dev.

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