Friday, 26 January 2018

Is Game Development Business/Career any good for making a living? - My Opinions

Hey, if you are reading this post make sure to check some of the great Gamasutra Articles on this topic which I will link from this post. There are some great resources which you can find every single day, being posted by many experienced developers.

I have been in the game industry for more than 7 years(5 years hobbyist developer + 2 years professional developer). Well, let's get to the main point.

The fact that some people are making a living out of their games is true but that is the lowest percentage of people who are actually successful in this career. It might sound harsh to the new comers to the industry but it is the harsh reality. However, there is nothing to be afraid of. If you love making games you should do that and nobody in this world can stop you. 

There are some facts you need to understand before you consider to make money out of making games. 

1. Read the market thoroughly. Play some games(well not necessarily required but that might be useful for you) and know your limits in terms of skill.

2. Don't try to make a first commercial game which require skill which you currently don't have. Well, you can learn it online or through other means but it is always a safe bet to start with a simple game. I worked on my first commercial game for more than a year and it was a biggest mistake in my life. I currently focus on making small games.

3. Be aware of the assets you use in the game which permits you to use them.

4. Don't be in this industry with the sole intention of making money. You need to make quality products and focus on making great products that consumers want and you will be good to go. 

Now, the question is, " Is the Game Development career any good for making a living?"


"It depends on your financial situation, skills and perseverance"

It depends from one person to another. It depends on your financial situation, skills and perseverance. But I would like to make things simpler for you so that you can choose any one of the following which better suits your life style.

1. If you have enough savings already you can work on your game full time irrespective of the money you make when your game is released on Steam. However, now-a-days, PC market is saturated and it has become harder to get visibility for smaller indie game developers. Average games make $1000 in average in the first month on Steam. Since you have a lot of money you can invest in marketing. You can invest millions of dollars to market your game effectively. If your game is really good, it will sell thousands of units and it might sell millions. Who knows?

2. If you have less money and you are working solo or with a small team on your project it would be hard to make a living considering you don't know how to market your game. Then, you can sell hardly 500 units in average in the first month from a mediocre quality game. But generally speaking, working with teams can give you an exponential return. It is advised that you have a day job or other source of income alongside what you are doing(making games). It would be a safe bet for you as per my opinion.

3. If your game gets viral and becomes so popular that you are making millions of dollars in a year. Well, you can work full time on your game without worries and you will be able to market your product better than most of the developers.

4. For mobile game developers, it is really hard to compete on Google play store as it is flooded with crappy games due to the low barrier to entry. Most of the developers make free to play games and if you want to make some money use IAP(In-App purchases) in Free to play games. Ads are no longer a great way to make money off mobile games. However, in most of the cases the average downloads can be somewhere around 100 units only if you have no marketing budget or luck. 

5. Making games for Consoles might be a costly affair. There are high upfront fees and it might become quite challenging to publish in consoles. I have never ported my games on Console yet but the entry fees are pretty high for me as a solo developer.

6. Now, if you have a Bachelor degree in Computer Science and if you believe you are really good programmer you can apply for jobs in various Game Development studio in your area and you can also approach to Giant companies like Ubisoft. Well, I personally have never done job in any Game Development companies and I have been working on my own Game Development studio for years(Amaxang Games).

In conclusion, it is not an impossible task to make a living out of your indie games. Well, you need to learn to survive in the market for more than decades and in that way, you might become successful. Failure is common in creative fields and you better get used to it because your first, second, third... commercial project is gonna fail no matter what.

Here are some great pieces of advice based on this topic which you should also read.

YouTube: GDC 2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmwbYl6f11c&t=369s

Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Is-video-game-programmer-a-good-career-choice

Gamedev: https://www.gamedev.net/forums/topic/627953-game-programming-as-a-viable-career/

Gamasutra: https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/MartinNerurkar/20120710/173898/Game_Development_Career_Poster.php

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