Indie retail… why bother? May 4, 2011 cliffski I came to the conclusion a while ago that retail selling of indie games was a total waste of effort. I have a bookcase to the right of me with a big pile of boxes of published games on it, I can see Kudos 2 (lovely box), Democracy 1 in English and German, Oval Office, and the e-games ‘Space Arcade Collection’. However, I have concluded that the long term utility of these deals is thus: People who aren’t in the industry who visit my home-office are very slightly impressed. As that number of people is somewhere between 0 and 2 people a year, and as I never care what they think, I wonder what the point is. Oh the money? Well… in theory yes, but the problems with retail are huge: You need to spend 4 hours reading the 30 page contract 3 times, to spot the bit where they say they can deduct whatever they like as expenses from your royalties. You do a ton of work up front doing stupid crap like animating publisher logos at the start of the game, and it only sells 6 copies. You don’t get paid for retail until long after the end of the sales quarter. If at all. If the company doesn’t go bankrupt and then re-incorporate the next day owing you nothing (commonplace). You have NO IDEA how many copies were sold. you have to trust a person you never met, in another country. He trusts the distributor, who is in a third country, in the developing world. Yeah right… Your game is pirated immediately, as 50% of the staff in the packaging warehouse think they are ‘l33t’ because they are in some childish warez ‘scene’. *sigh* You are now commited to providing tech support to peole for whom you have NO IDEA if they bought the game or pirated it. People who bought the game through the Swedish branch of a French-owned store selling copies of your game made by the Belgian distributor for the Canadian publisher you signed a deal with through your agent in Los Angeles now email you saying they want a refund. They think it’s your fault. Once a quarter, for the next 10 years you get mailed a $3 royalty check it costs $20 to cash. Half the boxed copies you sell sold ‘second-hand’ on online sites turn out to be copies manufactured by some dodgy CD-replicator who pocket 100% of the cash. When I get email from someone that says “greetings, we are a retail publisher of high quality…” I just bin it. I don’t care who it is. Retail blew it big time. I no longer care. I have enough boxes now. They are fab, but if you want to own Gratuitous Space Battles, buy it online :D. I had a poster made for my office instead.