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

The super-helpful 2020 indie games company costs breakdown smorgasbord

In a continuing war with the patronizing wordpress ‘headline clickbait analyzer, I tried using smorgasbord to rate as an uncommon word…but no joy. Enjoy this non-clikbait post I guess…

How much does it cost to run a one-man indie game studio in the UK? What are all those costs that you don’t think about? I have no idea! but I can tell you what it costs to run positech games, if that’s interesting? Lets assume so:

WEB HOSTING

I have a dedicated server with liquidweb. Its possibly overkill, but it runs this blog, a lot of back-end stats reporting stuff and the challenges system for gratuitous space battles, the web pages for a handful of different domains and about a dozen games. Its also handy as a ftp-drop for sending stuff to people without worrying about dropbox accounts/limits/costs etc. The cost of this is $219 / month. A dedicated server is l33t because I can reboot it at will, install any version of php or whatever I want, and I’m not at the mercy of sharing a physical box with someone else.

ACCOUNTANT

I have a proper Limited Company, and its hellish without an accountant if you deal with VAT and multiple currencies, and multiple banks accounts and business investments etc…so I have an accountant in the UK that charges me roughly $135 / month. They are more like bookkeepers than accountants, as I handle my own VAT and don’t do any clever tax avoidance/offshore nonsense.

MAILING LIST

I use ymlp to maintain a small mailing list of about 10,000 people. I send one email a month and this costs me about $30/month. This means I don’t have to worry about my domain being seen as spam, and they can handle opt-in and unsubscribe handling etc. Not 100% sure its good value for money, always hovering on cancelling.

COMPANIES HOUSE

To have a limited-liability company in the UK you have to pay an annual registration fee. Worked out on a monthly basis its just $1.40/month.

APPLE DEVELOPER FEES

To sell games on apples store, and some other stuff, you need to pay them money (WTF?) looks like in the last 12 months I’ve paid them roughly $7/month for this honor.

ANTI-VIRUS SUBSCRIPTION

Do not risk being without it. I use malwarebytes paid version, works out at $3.25/month.

BACKUP SOFTWARE SUBSCRIPTION

Again, don’t risk it. I use carbonite, and it works out at $6/month.

BANK SOFTWARE

I use quickfile, to do automated tax-payments and access bank accounts remotely. It costs me about $5/month.

INTERNET ACCESS

I have fiber-to-the-premises (140 mbps down, 30 up) and a landline phone (I know old people!) and monthly this costs me a whopping $80/month.

Everything else I can think of is one-off payments for equipment, like a new PC or whatever, and project-specific stuff like PR or marketing/advertising budgets, or obviously what it costs me to hire people to do art/music/code and so on. But these are the current ‘fixed costs’ of positech. A summary:

Web Hosting $  219.0045.00%
Accountant $  135.0027.74%
Mailing List $    30.006.16%
Companies House $       1.400.29%
Apple $       7.001.44%
Antivirus $       3.250.67%
Backup $       6.001.23%
Banking $       5.001.03%
Internet $    80.0016.44%
 $  486.65

Now I actually write it all out, it seems like quite a lot. Almost $500 to just exist, without eating or paying any other bills, or hiring anyone to do anything.


8 thoughts on The super-helpful 2020 indie games company costs breakdown smorgasbord

  1. I feel like you are highly correct on the dedicated web server being overkill, and you could probably cut your costs roughly in half with $20-40 VPS. Heck, my $5 install could handle being on the front page of HN with just a lil’ caching plugin added into WP.

    1. Yes indeed, although I have had events in the past with HUGE spikes in traffic that even made my server wobble, so it can happen. Less so these days, where such things tend to stay confined to social media or steam.

      TBH I really should move to a VPS at some point, especially now my forums are hosted elsewhere. I just dont want to do it in the middle of working on a game, so it will likely happen eventually after democracy 4 is finally released and settled down…

      1. If a replacement ever becomes required, maybe check out these guys: https://www.hetzner.com/managed-server Not affiliated with them in any way, but we’ve been customers there for many years with dozens of servers (can only vouch for their root server products) and we are extremely happy with their service AND the prices.

  2. Thanks for sharing! I love reading business articles from you. I was also surprised how cheap is your a counting over there. I used to pay much more for my LLC accounting in Hungary (right now im a sole propriator).

    1. That’s interesting – I was about to comment to say the exact opposite. I pay about half for that in Spain. With the occasional small one off fee, but still it is a lot less.

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