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  • Monetize That $hit: Making Money As An Independent Developer

    [08.16.12]
    - Rami Ismail
  • [Vlambeer, the team behind Super Crate Box and Ridiculous Fishing, knows a thing or two about making money via independent games, and here the studio's own Rami Ismail discusses his tips for finding financial success when you make games on your own.]


    "How Much Will Our First Indie Game Make?" is a question that has been flying around a lot the last few weeks and it's one I get asked quite often. The hope is that your first game will earn you tens of thousands of dollars, but realism (and Andy Moore) says it'll more likely earnless than a thousand dollars, or perhaps nothing at all.

    Going indie commercially is always a bit of a gamble, and while I've seen it work out for some people, I've seen it fail horribly for others. Going indie commercially means that besides knowing how to make good games, you know how to sell games and how to run a game studio or company.

    In that aspect, Vlambeer is also meant to help Jan Willem and me support ourselves financially. Since we've been faring well, we thought it was time to return the favor and hopefully inspire others. Back in 2011, the two of us at Vlambeer teamed up with friend & Dutch developer Laurens de Gier to organize a seminar for students following a Game Design & Development course.

    The seminar was a three-week course that students could pick amongst several other seminars that month. It was called ‘Monetize that $hit‘ and we described it as a seminar in game design, game business, and business in general. Students were required to sign up as a team that could fully produce a game, so the teams at least needed to understand the basics of programming and design. Teams were also required to pick a "business guy" and think about how they would get or produce thing they needed -- music and sound effects and trailers and the like.


    When 15 students arrived on the first day of the seminar, we told them a short story. Our very first title -- the title that financed Vlambeer -- Radical Fishing, was created in a few weeks. The game, after some negotiations, earned us exactly $10,001. We basically told them everything they wanted and needed to know.

    During that talk, I discussed a few points that I've always tried to adhere to while running Vlambeer. Over the course of an hour, I introduced attendees to the realms of planning, financial, legal and marketing. One of the key points I focused on was negotiations and keeping financial stability within an inherently flexible, unpredictable and unstable environment.

    Obviously, I made sure to mention that Vlambeer is far from your typical game studio -- things that worked for Vlambeer might not work for another studio. As in our game design, in our business we like solutions that are thought up for a specific situation instead of general solutions, since every situation might require an optimized and specific approach.

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