Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

The land grab for gamers eyeballs

I enjoy reading about the early days of the internet. I have a strong feeling that only one guy really understood it. Only one guy really got what was going on, and what to do. I don’t mean Bill gates, or The google guys, or Steve Jobs. I don’t mean Woz, I don’t mean Tim Berners lee. I mean Jeff Bezos.

Jeff Bezos understood that the internet was like a big new country being discovered, where all the land was free. And soon, everyone would be emigrating there. Whoever owned all that land would be very very wealthy and powerful. He Realized he had to ‘get big fast’ and more importantly he realized that it was a long term win, where if you didn’t make money for a decade, in fact if you absolutely threw money down the drain for the first decade, it didn’t matter, as long as you won.


Gaming is pretty big, and it’s getting bigger. For a long time, gamers were just kids. Nobody over 30 played games. It was a niche thing. You wouldn’t make a living doing it. Then it became something that made decent money. then game developers started driving ferraris. Then Call of Duty started appearing on the news. The Minecraft happened. And so on…

Gaming is like a great big country waiting to be conquered, and right now, we do not know who has won. Some might say apple have won, because of the app store. others say maybe Microsoft win by default, due to the X-Box and Windows. or maybe Valve have won? or Zynga? The important thing right now is *we have no clear winner*. And long may that continue.

Thankfully, there is still a slight element of the free market in gaming. There is Kickstarter, Humble Bundle, Gamersgate, D2D,Steam and GoG, and that’s just third party PC game stores. We have some clear frontrunners but nobody has actually ‘won’ yet. I do have a great fear that the main word there is *yet*. As consumers, we will do absolutely NOTHING to maintain the free-market and level playing field. It’s just not in our nature. We worry that the supermarket will out-compete the local butchers, but we drive to the supermarket anyway because they have convenient parking. We are not the best guardians of free markets and competition. We are also, on the whole, oblivious of the fierce war being fought for our loyalty, our eyeballs, and our attention. Attention is everything. I *REALLY* want you to visit my site and buy my games from there, or at least hear about me as an independent entity. If I could guarantee that you would buy my next few games from my website, it easily makes sense for em to offer you my current games for free, or even at a loss.

Indies don’t generally think like this. Especially with their first game. You normally have bills to pay, and getting into debt is scary. If you earn $1,000 in a month, the thought of spending that $1,00 on adverts to get people to come buy your current game at a loss…. that’s madness right?

That’s what Jeff Bezos did.

Me…I don’t quite have the balls for that, but I’m pointing out that the big boys out there who want your eyeballs do. There is a war going on for the attention of gamers. To the winners go huge spoils. It’s fascinating, exciting and frightening to see. I just hope there’s still room for little old me.


7 thoughts on The land grab for gamers eyeballs

  1. Was your humble sale not a way to push the poitech brand? Also any chance of starship tycoon 2?

  2. When i ask my local butcher questions about unusual products that he might be able to order in for me, or to prepare my meat exactly the way i want it, because he has done in the past, i’m not generally met with a blank stare and silence, or complaints about my type stealing meat from his counter or it not being worth his while to do that extra work, your local butcher doesn’t tend to be as much of an egotist as your local indie dev… You’re going to have to do something to make buying direct a little more appealing, to differentiate yourself from the supermarkets and poundshops.

  3. Hello,
    I can’t find a way to email you without signing on to something I don’t want to sign on to, so I’ll post a message here. I bought the Positech Humble Bundle and found some arithmetic errors in Kudos 2 which make the game far more frustrating than need be: 1) in the beginning of the game the tips don’t increase the the total; 2) confidence and IQ appear to subtract as stated, but do not accumulate as stated, e.g., the game may state that there is an increase of 6 points, but actual increase will be 1 point; 3) using sudoku there should be an increase of excitement, but the actual excitement decreases. Now, I don’t know if you want your game to do the arithmetic this way, but I bet not.

    I hope this is helpful. Vanessa

  4. Here’s what you do. Raise a few million in venture capital. Pay your self some of those millions. Lose money for a decade. Maybe you win. Maybe not. Who cares? Win or lose you’ve made millions. And if you fail good chance yahoo will buy your failure for a few more millions. The internet if funny that way.

  5. I recently found out about your company and games through Quill18 who has recently posted videos of Democracy 3 and Redshirt on YouTube.
    I think that there is great opportunity in allowing and/or providing your games to gamers who will play (demo) them publically on streaming and video sites. This exposes your games to audiences who may have not otherwise heard of your games.
    The majority of my game purchases over the past two years, have been games that I saw others playing. I will be purchasing some of your games as well.

  6. Your games are great, and every gamer who once found you will be coming back again and again for more (- while I have to admit that I do not own all of your games yet, I will be buying Democracy 3).

    And yes: I found the games on Steam – and for convienience will wait for your new games to show up there. While I know Steam does not need my money, but you do, I still like to use steam for convenience.

    (I admit I hated Mass Effect for not being on steam and bought it anyway… – but Mass Effect had my attention before… – so I guess you are right in the end.)

    As for going into debt and become big fast: DON’T DO IT – when working with others people money they start wanting their say and you get economic pressure, as soon as you run into a problem. You need freedom to make the games you love (- and we love).
    And you would need likeminded people, so the character of your games is preserved. IF you have found likeminded people who would be “congenial” partners, and you don’t have the money to have them work exclusively with you, they might do it anyway for a while, simply because it is fun and the right thing to do, and the fruit of this should be worth it / make pay in the end.

    On a different note:
    The banking crisis / debt crisis isn’t all that complicated: the world is just ruled by cowards! The problem: debt saturation – new debt doesn’t add to gdp anymore (- google “Chart of the Century”).

    Solutions? There are some:
    First change the system, so that the creation of money happens no longer by creation of debt:

    Second: Waive debts, allow for bancruptcies, redistribute wealth.

    Again: once there is debt saturation you can’t force people to go into debt even more, just to keep the money supply gropwing / “gdp” growing. You can’t “push on a string” as central bank. No matter how low your interest rates are set.

    Unsustainable debt WILL come down – one way or the other – currently politics seems to go for inflation as means of redistribution and debt reduction…

    Again: the world is ruled by cowards (and / or ignoramus).

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