Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Indie Gaming – It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Posted by Rampant Coyote on May 28, 2014

bubblepopI’ve talked about it. Multiple times. For years.

Jeff Vogel has talked about it. And not for the first time, either.

Robert Fearon answered Vogel saying, “there is no bubble.”

Megan Fox of Glass Bottom Games has weighed in.

Gareth Fouche – ready to release his first commercial indie game System Crash – has laid bare his hopes and concerns.

Brian Fargo talks about another side of it – Kickstarter Fatigue.

Cliff Harris – who has struggled for a long time to become very successful with and without Steam – feels optimism.

AAA is struggling. Mobile is glutted beyond the breaking point. Kickstarter fatigue has set in. Steam is becoming overcrowded and nobody can make money anymore (at least not the type that they were used to). MMOs are no longer the cash cow they once were. Web-games are no longer making so much money. Money is no longer raining down on casual games. Direct Sales are dead.

While we’re at it, I’m pretty damn sure the bottom has fallen out of the Commodore 64 and Atari VCS market, too.

About the only good thing I’ve gained from missing the money-bus so many times is a sense of perspective. There’ll be another money-bus in about thirty minutes. I’ve seen the sky fall too many times. It’s a classic business cycle – some sector is underserved, FINALLY gets some traction, becomes THE hot sector for a short time until everybody and their cousin piles on and causes it to collapse… and then they move on somewhere else.

I’m too freaking slow to catch the hottest trends. I still do this indie thing in my spare time with a budget barely more than what I fish out from under my couch cushions. Maybe I should resign myself to never being able to become a full-time indie. I dunno.

But part of me says, “You know what? Let it burn. Let’s get these get-rich-quick people out of the pool so those of us who really just want to have fun can enjoy it.”

If I manage to get lucky someday and actually catch one of these fads / trends / whatevers and suddenly see a major change to my financial status… and then see it coming to an end… I’m sure I’ll not be so cavalier about an upcoming market “correction.” I’ll probably be in freak-out mode. And I’ll look back on this blog post and smile ruefully.

If I really knew what I was doing – and had money and time to actually execute on it – I’d already be prepped for the Next Big Thing.  Whatever that is.

As it is, my “strategy” such as it is, looks like this:

a) Figure out how to vastly improve my time-to-market. I need to be releasing a game every year.

b) Keep doing what I’m doing – I have a ton of game ideas I really want to make and release.

c) Mix approaches to monetization (assuming I can release frequently enough that this doesn’t put all my eggs in one basket). There’s gotta be hundreds of ways to try and pay for the development of an RPG, and I’m not sure the “tried and true” method isn’t the best, but it could be worth experimenting.

d) Try to adapt whatever I’m working on to catch the secondary effects of the next big “wave.”

That’s really it. Probably not a recipe for success, but that’s what I’ve got. Bottom line is that I want to make games, and I don’t want to go broke doing it.  That’s not a problem with the market, that’s a problem with me.

I’m going to close with the quote from Megan Fox from the link above:

“There are no instant successes in our industry, outside of the odd lottery winner. There never were, and that hasn’t changed. Steam may have provided a short-term aberration in sales figures, but even then, it only helped a lucky few. For the rest of us, there is only hard work, and the appearance of an instant success at the very end. 

“That’s bidness.”


Filed Under: Biz, Indie Evangelism - Comments: 3 Comments to Read

  • espectra said,

    Always love your writing, so keep it up!

    But one little nitpick…

    > Steam is becoming overcrowded

    This strikes me as hyperventilating (not so much by you as by the bulk of the Steam users that spout it lately). Steam only has 3167 games according to an empty string games search I did just now. Not a million or 2 million (as the various mobile app stores are approaching).

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Although at a certain point, the number becomes irrelevant – “more than I can wrap my brain around or seriously filter.” But yeah. We’re still a couple of orders of magnitude away, yet. (Bear in mind that a lot of the mobile games have 2 or 3 entries each… a “free” and a “premium” version, etc. – more than Steam bears the same).

    I still think the problem is that Steam has been – and people still think of it as – a “curator” of games. But it’s rapidly moving to being just a distribution point. Or maybe not “just”, as they have plans to make things better. But it’s still getting there. They have to. If they won’t, someone else will… probably Amazon, eventually. And to be honest, while I want Amazon to give them a run for their money (they aren’t close yet), I trust Valve 100x more with the job of being a front-runner than I trust Amazon.

  • MalcolmM said,

    As a Steam user for years, I would agree with people who say Steam is becoming overcrowded.

    I use to always check out every new release on Steam that was in a category I was even vaguely interested in. Now, when there are sometimes 10+ releases a day, the majority of which are shovelware, I only check a small percentage of the new games, and even those I only given a very quick look over.

    So I’m sure there are quite a few games with interesting (to me) and unique gameplay that I would be interested in buying, but I won’t know about them. Also, although I don’t trust online reviews that much, they can be useful in discovering hidden gems. With so many games being released, there is no hope that all these games will get reviewed.