Wednesday, January 14, 2009
How Much Money Can My Indie Game Make?
This question keeps coming up, and keeps getting answered the same way:
Not Much. Or Enough. Or Even Lots.
Really. Nobody Knows. Here's Why!
How much can your game possibly make? Roll on the Random D20 Treasure Table, but determine your game's level is determined by rolling 1d12 - 5, with values less than 1 resulting in a yield of nothing or incidental treasure because your mother had sympathy on you and bought a copy.
I've tacked the question myself. A couple of times, from my limited vantage point. And it really is one of those "how long is a piece of string?" questions.
Now, if it were really an absolute crap shoot, you wouldn't have any indie game companies still around. But the problem is that if you are asking this questions, there are so many variables that you don't understand (and many of them that I still don't understand, myself) that it might as well be random. Once you've blind-fired your artillery once, you can make an estimate of how far you missed your target and in what direction, and try to correct it for your second game.
When it comes to estimating sales, no amount of formulas and hand-waving can beat experience. But even experience can be misleading - for example, what makes a particular subgenre of casual games sell might be completely different for an RPG. Or - maybe not. But in general - ya don't know until you try, and it involves a tremendous number of variables involving competition, target audience, execution, polish, and marketing.
Ditto for estimating project schedules and budgets, by the way. One more reason to do a much better job than me at keeping good records on the amount of money and time spent across the board while developing your game.