Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Money Money Money

There are a few reasons I started this blog. Partly it's because it's hopefully going to become a place where I can document my thoughts on game design, partly a place to show progress in the game that Lemon Scented is working on, and partly as a promotional tool for said game. Whilst it's weird right now feeling like I'm blogging into the void, because at the time of writing this, I have no readers I know of, I know that it's important to continue this endeavour alongside writing the game. The theory goes like this - there are two options about how Lemon Scented Games operates on the web:

1) I focus all my time on actually writing the game, and never update the blog/site. When I have a big announcement to make about the game, nobody will notice because nobody will have heard about Lemon Scented Games or what we're working on. If the news does get carried on other indie games blogs, people might come to visit the site, see that there's nothing else going on there, and forget about it.

2) I feel like a lemon (pun semi-intended?) blogging to nobody at all, in the hope that some people will stumble across this place and be interested in what they read. When an announcement gets made about the game, there is at least a context in which to frame that announcement, and when people visit the site, they'll see that "stuff" is happening here, and might perhaps decide to bookmark the place and check in from time to time.

Option 2 is clearly preferable, and that being the case, now seems as good a time as any to start posing questions to you, the person reading this. You might be reading this months after I post this, but stuff never really disappears on the internet, so now is as good a time to respond with your opinions as any.

When I started this blog, Blogger asked me if I wanted to "monetise" my blog with adverts, and I've been giving the matter some thought. My initial response was a gut feeling that putting ads on the site would somehow detract from the "Indie-ness", that somehow I'd hurt my "indie credentials" by accepting a bit of money (assuming the readership ever swells to those numbers) for advertising other peoples' stuff. But then I got to thinking that Indie games need to be inventive with their revenue streams, and that perhaps a bit of advertising on the side could be no bad thing.

This post about making money from indie games got posted recently. It's pretty grim reading. In fairness, our target platform is PC (initially, at least), and we're hoping to eventually get the kind of interest that might get us entered into a few Indie competitions, perhaps a conversation with Valve about getting distributed via Steam, but that's a long-shot, and even then isn't a guarantee at success. Perhaps our game can never make enough money? I wonder about alternative revenue models, like the Charityware of the excellent Glum Buster, or this idea about Ransomware, or the Pre-ordering which I guess fuelled some of the development of World of Goo, as well as provided them with beta testers... Perhaps this idea of "make game, sell game for money, try not to worry about the inevitable piracy" model is a bit too simple, and we should be looking at other ways to fund things?

Perhaps we will. Right now I'm just a guy with an out-of-date YouTube video of a tech demo, so it hardly seems right to burden this place with adverts or ill-concieved PayPal links, but the question of funding is an interesting one (to me, at least). It seems at the moment that the only way to survive is to either have a huge multinational corporate publisher backing you, or to be making games so small and cheap that you need to sell very few to make it worthwhile, and that trying anything in between is a path fraught with financial danger and spiralling credit card debts. I'm sure a successful business model will emerge for bigger-than-trivially-tiny indie games, but right now I'd be hard-pressed to predict what that will be. Any ideas?

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