This year the latest blog post of the year will be the Friday 25th, so I’m wishing you happy holidays now 🙂
About the future : 3 points to survive
I’m going to review this year in the blog post next week, but here I want to talk about the necessary changes I’ll need to do in future.
You may have heard the word “Indieapocalypse” around the net. What is it? Well, some developers (I’m among them) have this theory that it’s going to be a tough future for indies, since the quality bar has raised, the market has been flooded, prices have collapsed, and exposure is really hard to get.
All those things are happening at same time.
While I’m not a big/famous indie, I’ve noticed this phenomenon myself too. Personally, I never had much exposure (I wasn’t on Steam until last year!) but what really changed is the prices drop and the market flood. I honestly think it’s an uncommon situation that will settle itself in the next 4-5 years (lots of devs entered the market thinking to make big bucks, but when they’ll see how hard is to just break even, they’ll probably quit and do something else). But the real challenge will be to survive those next 4-5 years!
Yes, because while for now things for me are “OK”, if the current trend continues like this, I would be likely forced to shut down everything next year around this period or early 2017. And absolutely don’t want ever to write a blog post called “I’m quitting the game business”! 🙁
Note added later: it sounds scary but to continue like this, means I shouldn’t release any game even in 2016. I’m fairly confident that it won’t happen! 🙂 However, I need to do some adjustment to my workflow, described below.
Point 1 – release games more often
If you have noticed, my newer games feature a LOT more content than before, and I kept more or less the same prices as before. But what I really need to do, is go back to releasing at least two games in a year. That is of course impossible, if one of those two games is a big RPG like SOTW, or a complex card game like PSCD 🙂
Which means, I really need to go back making more visual novel/dating sims. I have already a lot of them started to be honest (as you might know) but I need to get personally involved in some. Never Forget Me is one of those: I did all the storyboard myself, which was quite helpful for the writer since she is almost finished in about 10 months (and she had some troubles during Summer, otherwise would have been faster!).
This method works well because writers don’t need to imagine each scene or think about the story or anything else: I do that, and then they expand the storyboard I write. Luckily I don’t lack imagination, so I can do the storyboard rather quickly: I did Never Forget Me in a month. Of course writers still have a lot of freedom about writing the scenes. But is definitely easier for them this way.
So in the coming years I will need to make sure to have at least 2 games out each year, like I always did in the past.
From what I’m writing it seems that making a good visual novel or dating sim is easy: not at all!! But it’s just that… compared to a RPG/card game or similar, it’s honestly MUCH easier, for obvious reasons (think that just the balancing part of SOTW took me 4-5 months… lol).
Another possibility of course is to still do the usual games, but on a smaller scope. Long Live The Queen by my dev friend Hanako is the perfect example of something smaller, but still definitely fun to play.
Point 2 – I’m done with bundles
One of the big mistakes I did in the past 2 years was to do too many bundles. I thought it was harmless and a way to get more fans/attention, but the long term impact of doing too many is really disastrous and apparent now. No surprise there, it’s all my fault. So it’s safe to say that you’ll never see again another “Winterwolves Bundle” because was a total loss of money for me, thinking long-term.
The only bundle I might still consider is Humble, but anyway it won’t happen as often as before for sure.
Point 3 – moderate discounts
I still want to offer discounts to people, since I know not everyone can afford to buy my games at full price. However even in this case I need to be a bit more careful, and never go higher than 50% discount. Why? also because luckily there are still several people buying the games when they’re just out at full price, and I want to “reward” them. It’s not cool to see the game you bought at full price discounted by 50% shortly after. To be fair, I always waited at least 1 year before doing a big discount (for example SOTW was out in November 2014, and the first 50% discount was indeed last month, not sooner).
So it’s not like I’m doing what too many other indies do, starting to discount the game already after 6 months. But in future I’ll stick to smaller discounts and go up to 50% only when a title is really old.
The points above might make me look like a greedy person. The reality is that it’s what I think I need to do to survive 🙂 I see a dangerous trend recently in which everyone is bundling and discounting everything, without thinking about the future. And while I don’t know about the others, I plan to stick around for several more years to come.