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

How not to go bankrupt: Cliffs 2017 indie talk

Hope you like it. These are the raw slides. Obviously ‘you had to be there man!’ for the explanation, but hopefully still relevant…

8 thoughts on How not to go bankrupt: Cliffs 2017 indie talk

  1. Thanks for uploading these! Appreciate your honesty, as always. It’s very helpful. I tell the same sorts of things to young people considering full-time freelancing.

  2. Thanks for sharing the slides and candid converdation! Per slide #10, got a favorite book or two on pricing for reference? Same for #15? Every product is different, but I was wondering if there are some key “go to” booKS you might even reread.

    1. Seducing the subconscious and the advertised mind are both good books. ALso just google behavioural economics for pricing insights.

  3. Note that Google Analytics is not entirely free. There’s an undisclosed limit (a few years ago this was about a billion events per month) above which you have to pay for it. We’re talking about potential six-digit yearly fees. It’s actually not that hard to hit this limit with a moderate amount of players if you happily track tons of in-game events. Nowadays they seem to be pushing Firebase as the next-gen solution, which they guarantee to be free without data limits forever. Last time I checked the dashboard was rather lacking compared to GA, but at least they are actively working on it.

  4. Thanks for the slides. Wish I could have attended.
    Any idea if the talk was recorded? if so, a link would be great.
    Keep up the good work.

  5. I seriously doubt the second half of point #8. And what operation costs and salaries are those that you’d need $400k? And $1300 for web hosting? There’s some fat to be cut there…

    1. The webhosting sounds a bit on the low end but then again the $10/month private hosting package may or may not cut it.

      He’s calculating with numbers you’ll have to pay a senior developer in the US. Big studios currently have a number between 10 and $15.000 / month, including their insurance, infrastructure/hardware/licenses + tax and salaries. It’s not an unrealistic number really which still only leaves you with salaries around the 50-60k mark.

      If you believe that you can run your business on 30 – $40.000/dev/year (in the US or Western Europe) and be sustainable, think again. The moment your devs start having families, realize that they should have started saving for their retirement yesterday and want to buy a decent car or house/apartment, they will start looking elsewhere.

      Or to be blunt: A business that cannot afford at least the lower end of that 10-15k bracket for its employees in the long run, is not sustainable but a junior crunch mill.

  6. On the Unity/Middleware aside, I think there’s an aspect missing from that, by using an existing engine you can massively cut investment (money & time) before launching a few games. For me it always felt like fail-fast was a good idea, perhaps I’m biased as I’ve seen a big internal game engine fail to get anywhere near ROI positive.

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