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独立游戏革命 发表评论(0) 编辑词条

《我的世界》、《水果忍者》、《神庙逃亡》……我们都玩过这些游戏。这些游戏本身已经成为品牌,开辟了玩具、书籍和电影等周边产品的市场,使它们的开发者赚得盆满钵溢。

百万收益和估值正在把独立游戏工作室带进主流。你懂的,当一款游戏的收益模式成功地突破IAP模式时,它就已经进入主流了。例如,《我的世界》去年收益约1亿美元,因为乐高等周边产品,这个数字还会往上涨;说它会像Supercell或NaturalMotion那么赚钱,并不过份。其他游戏如《愤怒的小鸟》也一样。

许多平台都迫不及待地拥抱独立游戏和向它们的开发者敞开大门。许多曾经供职于大发行公司或AAA工作室的开发者开始着手成立自己的独立工作室或自主发行游戏。读者们将在本文中找到原因。

就在最近,一个曾经在大工作室工作的人辞掉了工作,凭一己之力制作了一款游戏,并在Steam和iOS上发布了。此人赚了约200万美元,其中70%来自Steam。他的作品并不是AA或AAA游戏。

Indie(from gameacademy.com)

Indie(from gameacademy.com)

这只是众多例子中的一个……

1、SiuYiu的《Pocket Minions》再次成功发布为一款免费游戏,在48小时内收获13.7万DAU。

2、另一款独立游戏《Dustforce》仅在Steam上就挣到66万849美元。

3、《Azada》仅第一个月就入帐25万美元。

4、原版《切绳子》的下载量已突破1亿。

5、《失忆症:黑暗血统》,单价20美元,在PC/Steam/GOG平台发布, Mac版售出140万份。

6、《魔岩山传说》,单价15美元,8个月内PC/Steam/GOG版共售出60万份以上。

7、《神秘视线》目前销量超过250万份。

……

此类案例不胜枚举。在2009年,排名前50%PSN、Xbox和WiiWare游戏销量平均为7万到10万,现在这个数字可能已经翻倍了。根据Simon Carless在2009 GDC上的演讲,排名前20%的游戏销量是前50%的3倍。

Kickstarter众筹平台

玩家想要更多游戏,这就是为什么许多人都乐意资助项目,看看以下数据:

kickstarter(from gameacademy)

kickstarter(from gameacademy)

kickstarter 2(from gameacademy)

kickstarter 2(from gameacademy)

在本文中,我们将分析这个独立游戏复兴现象,解释它们如何改变市场准入的门框和简化独立游戏发行的过程。

这场是革命如何兴起的:

老实说,独立游戏兴起于电脑和游戏机游戏没落之际。预算不多的开发小团队和个人开始追寻自己的梦想。

indie-games(from gameacademy)

indie-games(from gameacademy)

在这里,我们不打算讨论独立游戏的复兴概况,而是这场革命是如何开始的。

“独立游戏运动是自网络出现以来行业史上最重要的事件。独立梦想家们独立创造了休闲游戏类型,唤醒了沉寂多年的游戏类型如策略、冒险和益智游戏,并且创造了全新的概念。独立游戏促进了技术成熟,使更多打动人心的游戏得以诞生。独立游戏是唯一一种同时满足了游戏鉴赏家、休闲玩家和革命者的游戏。”——ndy Schatz,Pocketwatch Games

这场革命始于大工作室开始制作天价AAA游戏。这里,我们所谓的“天价”是指亿万美元。过高的成本导致的结果是,许多大作声败名裂,许多工作室关门倒闭。THQ是最近一个因为高成本而破产的案例,在它之后还尾随着许多小工作室。

因为开发成本的低廉,独立游戏不需要数百万美元的预算。

在本文中,你会发现,任何人都可以自己制作游戏或者找到能帮助他制作游戏的开发者,只要他知道如何管理开发工作。这不是高深的科学。你不再需要大发行商的支持,不需要大量资金和供程序员全天候从零开始编码游戏的实体办公室。

footer(from gameacademy)

footer(from gameacademy)

任何人都可以发行自己的游戏

“我认为独立开发者成功的机率比以前更大了。”——Nathan Vella,Capybara Games的总裁

独立游戏还引领了游戏产业的创新。最近的PAX活动(游戏邦注:PAX是The Penny Arcade Expo的缩写,这是一系列在西雅图和波士顿举行的游戏节活动)表明,独立游戏的前景令人兴奋,游戏《That Dragon,Cancer》就是一个独特叙事的典例,且它是OUYA的独占的游戏。

“有许多独立游戏并不像《我的世界》那样,能通过Xbox大赚一笔”——Chris Charla,Rev3 games

从发行商所有的工作室解雇的开发者开始作为独立发行者制作自己的游戏。

为什么?

好吧,我们将在本文中揭示几个原因。最显然的一个是,独立游戏给它们的开发者带来大量收益。而独立开发者赚大钱的唯一要做的就是好好执行产品制作、营销和推广。

老实说,大部分制作出好游戏的开发者都不是自己搞销售或推广。

因此,这些开发者得寻求游戏发行商的营销和推广支持(这里所指的发行商不是传统意义上的那种提供资金的发行商)或雇用经验丰富的专家顾问。我曾经当过好一阵子游戏推广顾问,我知道当开发者已经完成整款游戏的制作,自己又不懂营销时是多么痛苦。

当制作你的玩法框架时,你必须记住潜在的赢利策略(这是小小的经验),这样你的玩家就能100%地沉浸于游戏,且在你的游戏中花钱。

这么做帮助你制作一款可以轻易通过强大的推广平台推广的好游戏。这就是我们现在要谈的问题。

为什么独立游戏比以前更赚钱了?

unity(from gameacademy)

unity(from gameacademy)

原因有三:

1、Unity

Unity 3D是一个强大的工具。它使开发游戏的成本大大降低。它使开发者得以轻松地把游戏移植到各种设备上,如手机、游戏机、PC等。总之它为开发者节省了大量金钱(和时间)。

Unity还很便宜,所以获得像Unreal或CryEngine这样的引擎的使用授权并不需要付出太高的成本。

开发者可以向Asset store购买资产,这样就不必从头制作了。相比于制作资产所需的成本,购买费用根本不值一提。

开发者可以使用各种廉价的Unity工具轻松制作元素(比如赛车游戏的地形)。

对于刚开始做游戏的人,也可以尝试yoyo games的game maker studio,以便快速上手。

我看到的大多数独立游戏都是用Unity制作的。

另外,你也可以只对特定的某款游戏使用Unreal引擎和Unreal开发工具。如果你支付不起完整使用授权的话,那么你还有另一个选择,也就是支付部分收益给Epic games工作室。

James Petty使用unreal mobile技术制作了一款非常好的游戏,叫作《Infected War 2013》,它获得Apple的推荐且登上《华尔街日报》。

2、一般玩家

一般玩家的年龄由去年的37下降至30,因为手机的普及。这个年龄段的玩家有可自由支配的收益,可以购买游戏或在游戏中消费。年龄的下降是因为30岁以下的玩家人数急剧增长和不同的游戏设备的出现。游戏的最大消费主力是35岁的玩家。

令人惊讶的是,只有36%的玩家用自己的智能手机玩游戏,其他的玩家更偏好游戏机和PC。这是游戏业的权威—–E3游戏展的主办方ESA的研究结果。

有些人花了3万多美元用于IAP。在购买IAP的人中,有78%的人对自己购买的东西表示完全满意。

免费游戏正在成为主流模式,因为它更容易让玩家沉浸于游戏和在游戏过程中消费。这就降低了开发玩家的成本,而是由游戏自己把玩家转变成忠实用户——在游戏中花钱,且邀请好友来玩的玩家。事实上,我最大的游戏客户正是使用了这种方法。

完美的游戏体验的致瘾性不亚于赌博。

平均49%的美国家庭拥有两部游戏机,而不是一部。

62%的玩家习惯与其他人一起玩游戏,所以你有很大的游戏推广机会。玩游戏曾是一种孤独的体验,但现在,这是人们结交朋友、保持联系和建立终身友谊的方式。这是让游戏像病毒一样传播开来的极好策略。

3、不同的发布平台,不同的受众类型

Steam:

几年以前,大部分游戏是以磁盘和DVD形式出售的。Steam的出现使一切都改变了。零售的PC游戏因为监管不利导致盗版猖獗,使大工作室蒙受严重损失。

独立游戏《Beat Hazard》为它的制作者创造了200万美元的收益。这款游戏的制作者只有一个人,他在各大平台上出售,包含iOS,其中70%的收益来自Steam。

他是怎么做到的?你可以利用几个应季促销活动人做推广宣传。另外,Steam对独立开发者的支持对推广也有重要意义。我发现捆绑促销是仅次于秋假促销的最佳促销策略。所以,为了迅速拉动销量,你可以利用若干种促销策略。

《Defender’s Quest》也有58.6%的收益来自Steam,其他的来自直接下载和kongregate网站(游戏邦注:这是一个允许开发者上传Flash和Unity游戏的独立游戏网站)。

Valve用Steam做的事其实与Apple用iTunes做的事是一样的。iTunes拯救了音乐产业,而Steam挽救了PC游戏。

现在Steam是最好的发布平台之一,特别是对于独立游戏开发者而言。与零售相比,在Steam上更容易赚钱,且容易发布和进行优惠促销活动。

Xbox:

xbox-id(from gameacademy)

xbox-id(from gameacademy)

新的ID@Xbox program活动允许开发者自主发行。PAX 2013让独立开发者欢欣鼓舞。他们把应用商店变得非常像Xbox One的Steam,它将支持所有付费模式,所以你可以任何一种模式的游戏并放在上面出售。他们还发布了大量工具,并开始推广开发工具箱。

Xbox One是基于32位PC,Unity是支持它的。这意味着开发游戏的成本会走低,移植也将因此变得极其容易。

Sony的Playstation:

Sony可是开足马力支持独立游戏,过去从来没有像现在这么容易就能开发这个平台的游戏。现在,PS3的独立游戏还比较难开发,因为它的IBM芯片处理器结构。那就是为什么我不建议独立开发者选择PS3。

但对于PS4,技术架构与Xbox one相同。基于AMD的8核32位处理器,把游戏移植到PS4是相同容易的,且Unity也是支持的。

以PS4为中心的新的独立游戏运动正在进行中。

所以,一款PC游戏可以很容易就移植到PS4和Xbox One平台。

掌机:

现在不要低估了PS Vita,它虽然销量不好,但受众很忠诚,且非常硬核。在我为客户做的测试中发现,与其他移动设备相比,PS Vita玩家的沉浸感深得多。

然而,你不可能随便做一款Vita游戏就指望大卖,但如果你的游戏够好且不是休闲游戏,那么玩家的沉浸感就会非常深,又因为它的应用商店不是分立的,所以更容易开发用户。

Sony的PSP仍然庞大。它有更忠实的、硬核的、喜欢听故事的玩家。这类玩家群体很容易成为PSP的市场。

我还没有测试过Nintendo的3DS,所以我不便作出评论。但它的销量数字还是很好看的。

WiiWare:

Wii是个很好的平台。它有庞大的受众,尽管不是硬核玩家,而基本上是休闲玩家。另一方面,Wii U不是一个理想的平台。销量不好,事实上,Wii卖得比Wii U好,而Wii U是最近的产品。

为了在Wii和Wii U上自主发行,你可以通过WiiWare进行,它允许你以独立开发者的身份发行自己的游戏。

手机:

对于手机,我们不必多说。大部分人都知道用于游戏的手机非常之多。制作和发布手机游戏既廉价又容易。游戏机和Valve正在做大量研究,且已经把很多手机游戏改编为次世代游戏,以后几年我们将看到令人振奋的成果。

用手机玩游戏的人越来越多了。但与其他平台相比,玩家在手机游戏中花的钱并不多。简单地说,真正的硬核玩家并不把手机当作首选的游戏设备。他们更偏好掌机如Vita或3DS。

然而,每月入帐数百万美元的手机游戏也是存在的。比如,《愤怒的小鸟》、《神亩逃亡》、《Candy Crush》和《Clash of Clans》等。百万美元俱乐部中也有独立游戏,但它们是独立世界的大玩家,规模扩张得飞快。

对于新人,手机的问题是,游戏发现仍然相当困难。开发忠实玩家的成本正在上升,竞争也日趋激烈。手机游戏市场是破碎的,存在大量竞争。

一年以前,如果你有一款AA品质的游戏,你基本上可以保证你的游戏 Android和iOS市场上获得相当体面的位置。而现在,A或AA游戏每天都在诞生。原因很简单,这些平台的游戏容易制作,开发者众多,可惜淘金潮已经结束了。

所以,底线是,手机游戏是一个很不错的游戏平台,但还有其他能产生更好的平均收益的平台。

一旦你的游戏成功了,或在这些平台中的任何一个中表现突出,你就可以尝试通过GameStop等做进一步的推广。

不同的游戏类型适合不同的平台

spelunky_burns(from gameacademy)

spelunky_burns(from gameacademy)

一旦你决定你想做什么类型的游戏,那你就要做一些相关的市场调查,你必须确定合适的平台。休闲游戏不适合做成游戏机游戏,而更适应手机平台。类似地,色情游戏不宜网络发布,但通过直接下载产生了一个庞大的PC市场。

指标

有些关于“每用户回报”的数据是非常重要的。所以,如果你在PC上获得15美元每用户,而在Xbox或其他游戏机上获得35美元每用户,那它就是决定因素了。那么你就必须看看有那个平台上你所目标的特定类型存在多少玩家。

为了得到准确的数据,我有一个步骤,但我想放在后面再说。

确定关键因素后,你必须根据类似游戏中的用户行为指标设计游戏体验,以便最大化收益。

这是一桩出售体验的生意

在E3 2012期间,我提到过这一点,如果把对应文章放在这里,那本文就太长了,所以我就不放了。

许多游戏开发者都会犯我在文章中提到的错误。他们过分关注游戏错误的方面。

你的游戏是你的最终产品,它做出来是为了被消费的。有些人把游戏当作服务出售——提供体验,以刺激玩家花钱为设计意图,把游戏设计成游乐园,只是不需要入园费。人们像购买食品、出行一样消费体验。

显然,当进入游乐园是免费的,许多人都会想进去,他们会有花钱的动机。免费进入的游乐园更容易吸引人们。

优秀的游戏营销者会把游戏当作销售过程——你接触到更多人。

有些人把游戏当作产品出售——也就是,一次性付出高额费用,但游乐园中的大部分东西除了食物都是免费的。但需要入园费时就比较难吸引人进来。

所以,当制作玩法时,请以此为思路。

machinarium(from gameacademy)

machinarium(from gameacademy)

我们再来看看流量。

“基本上,独立游戏让我再次爱上游戏!它是热情所在之处,它是真正有趣的游戏所在之处,它是最有趣的人所在之处。对于主流行业,所有一切都是朝一个方向前进的:更大,更炫,更3D。独立游戏却是自由发展的,它令人振奋。我们将保持诚恳的心。”——Derek Yu, Bit-Blot

流量也很重要,太多干扰因素如弹出式广告,为了继续游戏必须经历的烦人之事可能把玩家逼走。你是你必须好好考虑的东西——玩家行为是极其重要的分析内容。

发行模式

自主发行

我们来谈谈独立游戏复兴中的数字推广。

自主发行游戏的渠道有很多,比如:

1、微软的ID@Xbox

2、PS4、PS3、Vita和PSP的PSN

3、Steam

4、GameStop – Kongregate

5、苹果的Appstore

6、Desura和GOG

7、直接面向消费者(下载)

……

你可以尝试的一个方法是通过Unity多平台发布。只需要少量修改,你就可以多平台发布游戏了。然而,你必须知道的是,每个平台都有发布方针,但这不是本文的主题。

你基本上可以使用一些适合你的平台,然后相应地设计营销和发布策略。做起来并没有听起来的那么难,如果你已经决定了合适的平台的话。

machinarium-1(from gameacademy)

machinarium-1(from gameacademy)

间接的发行合作伙伴:

你可以找像Kerosene Games或其他适合你的发行工作室作为合作伙伴。有时候他们会要求你提前付费,有时候会要求五五分成,有时候会根据你的游戏收益抽取一定百分比的费用。

你还可以雇用一些人帮你做营销。有些个体营销专家,比如我本人就为许多独立游戏做营销工作。这是一种联合工作,所以你不能等到游戏完成了才做,你必须在你的游戏完成以前就找到人负责营销。

传统的工作室发行合作:

这些发行工作室也投资游戏的开发。这是传统的模式,它的衰落是因为发行过程被简化,营销因网络和社交媒体的兴起而变得更直接。这就是为什么有那么多“一键分享”按钮,和各种玩法共享功能存在于次世代游戏机中。我从来没有因为看了广告而购买游戏(我有广告拦截插件),我是看了Facebook、reddit、博文和YouTube才发现并购买游戏的。

这些工作室会拿走你的收益过半来发行你的游戏,并把游戏的版权据为己有。如果你采用这种方式,你就不再是独立的了。这条路不好走。

但他们确实会帮助你在大型游戏会议如GDC、E3或PAX上获得关注。如果你的游戏确实不错,你的引擎供应商如Epic还可能展示它。但你必须有独特的定位。

不远的将来

Owlboy Indie Article(from gameacademy)

Owlboy Indie Article(from gameacademy)

数字推广正在崛起,并非所有人都愿意为AAA游戏花50多美元。大部分人都不会那么做,只有像我这样的硬核玩家会每个月都购买。一般的玩家不会在游戏上花那么多钱。原因之一是:

你懂的,手机游戏很便宜,独立游戏通常不会超过20美元。许多独立游戏都是免费模式的,更多地靠IAP赢利,当玩家处于合适的心态时,他们就会愿意花钱。

为什么手机游戏和独立游戏正在崛起……

这帮助独立游戏锁定了大部分市场,那些不是硬核玩家但仍然喜欢玩游戏的人。

这是一个庞大的市场,这就是为什么Sony要花那么惊人的资金支持PS4和Vita。

根据今年的GDC对与会的超过2500位开发者的调查表表明,不少于53%为独立开发者。已经超过一半了。

如果你想进一步了解独立游戏的成长和文化,请参看“GameLoading: Rise Of The Indies”。

“我坚定且满怀希望地相信,独立游戏正处于惊人的成长壮大期。为什么?因为由小团队制作的创新艺术游戏最终得以被玩家轻易地玩到。独立革命万岁!”——Simon Carless

随着成本下降,新技术的不断出现,可重复利用的资产、源代码和越来越多人学习Unity和开发工具,通过外包工作进入快速成长的独立领域,在不远的将来,你将看到更多独立杰作。

在赢利方面,大多数游戏会向自己的用户群体再出售桌游玩具,3D打印动作塑像或者角色娃娃。它们是测试购买后促销行情的好方法。你也不需要大量订单,如果你知道一些简单的谈判规则,也可以只下5到10个试验订单。

总结

如果你遵从一定的游戏开发原则,并且一开始就执行适当的调查,那就不妨在独立游戏领域试试身手。但要记住本文的一个要点:独立游戏公司出售的就是体验。

本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,作者:Wayne Harrel)

The Indie Revolution: How little games are making big money

by Wayne Harrel

Minecraft, Fruit Ninja, Temple Run and many more – we’ve all been in contact with these games. These games are brands in themselves that inspired toys, sequels and movies while making a boat load of money for their creators.

Indie studios are going mainstream with multi-million recurring revenues and billion dollar valuations. You know that a game has gone mainstream when the monetization is successfully going beyond the “in game purchase” model. For example, Minecraft made around $100 million last year and this number will see significant rise due to lego deals, merchandise and beyond, and it isn’t even aggressive with monetization as Supercell or NaturalMotion. Same with other games like Angry Birds.

Multiple platforms are opening and rushing to support indie games and developers, and folks who used to work for big publishing or AAA studios are quitting starting their own indie studio or self-publishing their game.  You’ll find out why in this post.

Just recently, a guy who used to work for a big studio, quit his job and as a one man team, made a game and published it on Steam and iOS, he made around $2 million, 70% from Steam. It wasn’t a AA or AAA title.

That’s just one of many examples…

SiuYiu’s Pocket Minions relaunched successfully as a freemium game, acquiring 137,000 DAUs in 48 hours.

Dustforce, another indie made $668,490 JUST on steam alone.

Azada: $250,000 Sales in just  the first month

The original Cut the Rope had been downloaded more than 100 million times

Amnesia: The Dark Descent – Price per copy was $20 a unit and launched on PC/Steam/GOG, Mac sold  1.4 million copies

Legend of Grimrock: Price per unit $15 on PC/Steam/GOG  sold 600k+ copies sold in 8 months and still killing it.

The Mystery Case Files franchise has sold more than 2.5 million units thus far.

These are just a few examples, there are a ton more.  In 2009, the top 50% of games on PSN, Xbox and WiiWare sold an average of 70k to 100k copies, now this number has probably doubled. The top 20% sold 3 times more than the 50% according to Simon Carless’s 2009 GDC presentation.

The Kickstarter

People want more games, and this is why many people are willing to fund projects, just take a look a these stats:

Source: kickstarter

In this post, we’re going to analyze the indie gaming renaissance that has finally gone mainstream – making more money than ever in its history and how it has changed the barriers to entry into the market for new players and simplified the process of publishing an indie game.

How did this revolution get started:

To be honest, indie games are around since the dawn of computer and console gaming. Folks and individuals with very little budget started pursuing their passion.

Here we’re not going to talk about the dawn of indie gaming in general but how does the revolution started.

“The indie game movement is the most important transition this industry has seen since the rise of the internet. Indie visionaries have single-handedly created the casual game genre, brought back long-dormant genres such as the strategy, adventure, and puzzle games, and have created entirely new concepts within gaming. Indie games have spurred the growth of technology that has allowed serious games and persuasive games to be created. Indie games are the ONLY games that simultaneously satisfy the gourmand, the casual gamer, and the revolutionary.” – Andy Schatz, Pocketwatch Games (Venture Africa)

It all started when big studios started making AAA games with obnoxiously high budgets. We’re talking hundreds of millions here. The cost was extremely high and as a result, a lot of huge names got bankrupted and many studios were closed. THQ was the recent big one for example and many others followed.

Because of very low cost of development, Indies don’t need millions to break even.

As you’ll find out in this post that anybody can build a game or find developers who can help him build a game if he knows how to manage the devs and artists. It’s not rocket science. You no longer need backing of a big publishing studio or a ton of money and a physical office where you have full time coders coding your game from scratch.

Anybody Can Publish Their Own Game.

“I think on the independent side, the opportunities are wider than they’ve ever been to be financially successful.” – Nathan Vella, President Capybara Games

Indies are also leading innovation in gaming and if you look at this recent PAX event, there are some mind blowing indies on their way, “that dragon cancer” game is an example of unique storytelling, and it’s an exclusive to OUYA.

“There are plenty of Indies that are NOT minecraft which are making a lot of money via Xbox” – Chris Charla, director of the ID@Xbox program to Adam Sesseler of Rev3 games.

The developers who got laid off from studios owned by publishers started making their own games as independent publishers.
Why?

Well, there are several reasons which we’re gonna go through in this post. Most prominent one is that they are making a lot of money for their creators. All it takes is proper execution of product as well as RIGHT marketing and growth hacking approach. Watch the video in this post to learn more about execution.

And to be honest most devs make good games but aren’t exactly marketers or growth hackers.

Hence these developers go and find game publishers to seek some marketing and promotional help (these are not traditional publishers who provide funding, read on for more) or hire consultants who have a lot of growth hacking experience. I’ve been doing consulting on growth hacking for games for a good time and I know how painful it is when the developer isn’t a marketer and has already completed the entire game.

You need to keep your potential monetization strategy in mind when creating the framework of your gameplay (called thumbnailing of experience) so that it’s a seamless experience for your players to be 100% engaged as well as spend money in your game.

Doing this helps you create a stunning product that you can easily distribute through really great distribution platform that are available to you. Which we’re going to talk about in a moment.

Why Are Indie Games Making More Money For Their Creators Than Ever Before?

Well, three reasons:

1. Unity

Unity 3d is an amazing tool. It helps reduce the obnoxiously high cost of developing a game. It allows you to EASILY port to a range of devices like mobile, consoles, PC and many others. It’s great and it saves a lot of money (and time).

Unity is also cheap, so no obnoxiously high cost of licensing an engine like Unreal or CryEngine.

Asset store allows you to buy assets so you don’t need to build them from scratch. You can just buy them for the fraction of the cost it would take to build it.

Various cheap unity tools like unityterraintools.com/tools.php for example can be used to create elements easily. This is just one example. (my developer used it to build a racing terrain.)

For those who’re just starting can also try game maker studio from yoyo games to get started quickly.

The majority of indie games I’m seeing are done in unity.

On the side note, you can also license unreal engine and use unreal development kit for certain games. If you cannot pay for full licensing, then you have another option in which you have to pay a certain portion of your revenue to Epic games.

Our own James Petty made an amazing game called Infected War 2013 using unreal mobile technology, which was featured by Apple and wall street journal.

2. Average gamer

The age of average gamer was 37 last year and dropped to 30 because of mobile  – MOST have disposable income that they can spend in game or to purchase titles. This drop in age is due to extreme growth in people below 30 playing games and a range of different devices that they use to play the games. (cough* iOS). The most frequent game PURCHASER is 35 years old.

Surprisingly only 36% play games on their smartphones, rest prefer console and PC. This is according to the biggest authority in gaming – ESA, the host of E3.

Some people have spent over 30k in “in game purchase” in games like inrepublic. 78% of people who bought in game purchase are 100% satisfied with their purchase.

Models like Free to play are going main stream, its easier to get people engaged in the game and make money in the process. This reduce cost of acquiring a user and your game play does the job of turning him into a loyal user, you know – making him spend money in game and inviting friends to play. Infact my biggest gaming client is using this approach.

A well done gaming experience can be dangerously addictive – even more addictive than gambling.

On average, 49 percent of U.S. households own not one console but TWO.

62 percent of gamers play games with other people, so you have really HUGE growth opportunity. Where gaming was once an isolating experience, it is now a way people become friends, stay in touch, and form lifelong bonds. This is fantastic for growth hacking and very easy for strategists to make viral strategies.

3. Various publishing platforms with different audience types Steam:

A few years ago most of the games were sold via discs and DVDs. It all changed with the launch of Steam. PC gaming through retail caused so much piracy due to uncontrolled environment that this caused a lot of loss to big studios.

You can see the retail disc sales of various platforms here.

Check out this case study, how this guy made 2 million dollars, he is just 1 guy who made his game and sold it on various platform including the mighty iOS, and 70% of the money came through Steam.

How? Well, there are several seasonal promotions that allows you to run some burst campaign. Also steam’s support for indie developer is magnificent in terms of promotions. I tested humble bundle promotions and it was the second best performer other than the fall holiday promotion. So there are SEVERAL burst promotional strategies that you can run to make some sales fast.

Defender’s Quest also had 58.6% from steam and rest from direct downloads as well as kongregate.

What Valve did with Steam is the exact same thing that Apple did with iTunes. iTunes saved music industry and Steam saved PC gaming.
Now Steam is one of the best publishing platforms ESPECIALLY for indie game business owners. It makes a lot of money compared to retail route, easy to publish and discount promotions for sales boosts.

Xbox:

The new ID@Xbox program allows publishers to self publish, and from what we saw at PAX 2013 is extremely exciting for independent developers. They are going to make their store much like Steam for Xbox one and it will support ALL payment models, so you can build pretty much anything you like and sell it there. They’ve also released a range of tools and starting to distribute dev kits.

Xbox One is based on a 32bit PC like architecture and Unity is supporting it. Which means the cost of developing games is going to go down for indies and porting is going to be REALLY easy due to this.

Sony’s Playstation:

Sony is on full throttle to support indies, it has never been easier to build for this platform. Now PS3 was a little hard to make games for due to its IBM cell processor based architecture. That is why I do not recommend indie business owners to go for PS3.

But with PS4, the technical architecture is same as Xbox one, the PC like. Based on AMD’s 8 core 32 bit processors, the porting to this will be really easy too and Unity is supporting it as well.

There is an entire indie movement revolving around PS4.

So a game done on PC can be easily ported for both PS4 and XB ONE.

Handhelds:

Now don’t underestimate PS Vita, it has poor sales but the audience is loyal and extremely hardcore. In my testing for a client the engagement is super high compared to any mobile device.

However you cannot make crap and ship it on vita and expect it to sell, it will most definitely bomb, but if your game is good enough and NOT casual, the engagement in Vita is really high and since the store isn’t fragmented, it is easier to acquire users.
Sony’s PSP is still HUGE. It has better quality users, hardcore legitimate gamers, who love story. Easy to sell to this market segment.

Haven’t tested Nintendo’s 3DS so I won’t comment on that. But the sales figure is HUGE.

WiiWare:

Wii is a great platform. It has a great audience, although they are not hardcore gamers, mostly casual gamers. Wii U on the other hand isn’t an ideal platform. The sales are poor, infact, Wii is outselling Wii U, and Wii U is latest.

To self publish on Wii and WiiU, you can do it via WiiWare, which allows to publish your game as an indie

Finally, Mobile:

Well I don’t have to say a lot here. Most of the people know how massive mobile is for gaming. How cheap and easy it is to build and publish on mobile. Console and Valve are learning a lot and have adapted a lot for the next gen and it’s going to be super exciting in coming years.

More people play games on mobile platforms than any other platform. But a person doesn’t spend the amount of money in mobile games compared to games on other platforms. In simple terms, the real hardcore gamers don’t prefer gaming primarily on mobile. They prefer handhelds like Vita or 3DS.

However, there are games on mobile making millions each month. Like angry birds, temple run, candy crush and clash of clans. These are indies too, but they’re big players in indie who have scaled their business fast.

For newbies the problem with mobile is that game discovery is getting really hard. The cost to acquire loyal user is rising as the competition is on the rise. The market is fragmented and there is a lot of competition.

A year ago if you had a AA quality game, you were pretty much guaranteed for getting mentioned in “game of the day, month or week” and so on in Android and iOS market place. Right now, there is one A or AA game launching every single day. The reason is simple, it is easy to build for these platforms because developers are available due to demand, but the gold rush is over.

So, the bottom line is that mobile is a GREAT platform for games, but there are other platforms that might generate better return per user.

Once your game is successful or doing well on any of these platforms, you can try some advance distribution via GameStop and others.

Different Types of Games Work Differently On Different Platforms

Once you’ve decided what TYPE of game you want to build, done some market research on it, you need to decide the right platform. Casual games don’t work as good on consoles as they do on mobile. Similarly, erotic games can’t even get approved on many online publishing, but it’s a huge PC market as a direct download.

Metrics

Some data on ‘return per user’ – on various platforms is critical. So if you are getting $15 per loyal user on PC as compared to $35 on Xbox or any other console, that’s a deciding factor. Then you need to see how many users are on that platform’s specific category that you’re targeting.

I have a process to go through it that helps me get accurate data, which I’ll cover later.

Once that is done, then you need to design an experience based on metric of user behavior in similar games for maximum monetization.

We’re In the Business of Selling Experiences

During E3 2012 I mentioned this, if I type it then it will make the post extremely long, so I made a short video:

A lot of game business owners make these mistakes that I’ve mentioned in the video above. They focus on wrong aspects of a game.
Your game is your end product and it is made to be consumed. Some people sell it as a service of providing experience and engineering it in a way that makes people want to spend money – like an amusement park, except there is no entry fee. People pay for experiences like food, rides, fun and what not.

Obviously when the entry is free – a lot of people are gonna show up, and they will be motivated to spend money because then they’re easier to close. It’s easier to get more people to the amusement park when there is no entry fee.

A great game marketer will see it as a sales process – you gotta close more people.

Some people sell as a product – meaning one time high fee, but most things except food in the amusement park is free or prepaid. But it is hard to get more people when there is some kinda entry.

So think like this when you’re building a game play.

Let’s move on to the flow.

“Basically, the indie scene made me love games again! It’s where the passion is, it’s where the most interesting games are, and it’s where the most interesting people are. For the mainstream industry, everything goes in one direction: bigger, shinier, 3D-ier. Indie games go in every direction, and it’s exciting as hell. We’ll keep ‘em honest.” – Derek Yu, Bit-Blot (Aquaria)

Flow is also important, too much frictions like nag screens, pop ups, annoying things users have to go through in an order to experience anything might make them leave. And this is something you have to measure – in game user behavior is an extremely important analysis.

Publishing Models

Self-Publishing Your Game

We’re in the indie gaming renaissance with digital distribution.

There are tons of ways to self-publish your game, few of them are.

Latest from Microsoft: ID@Xbox

PSN for PS4, PS3, Vita and PSP

Steam

GameStop – Kongregate

Apple’s Appstore

Desura and GOG

Direct to customer (download)

more…

Trey covered more on this topic here

One thing you can try is to release on multiple platforms via Unity. It only requires few adjustments but you get yourself on multiple platforms. However there are few things you need to know that there are guidelines to publish on each of this platform and it is a subject of some other blog post.

You can basically use a few of these platforms that suites you and create a marketing and launch strategy yourself. It isn’t as hard as it sounds like if you have the right systems in place.

Indirect Publishing Partner:

You can find publishing partners like Kerosene Games or anyone that suites you. They charge you upfront sometimes, sometimes they charge you equity or revenue %% your game brings in.

You can also hire someone just to do marketing for you too. There are individuals, myself including who do that for many major indie games. It is a joint effort so you cannot do that after the game is done, you need to find someone before your game is completed.

Traditional Studio Publishing Partnerships:

These are publishing studios and they also invest in the game development budget. This is a traditional method and its declining as publishing is getting simplified and marketing is becoming more direct as a result of the internet and social media. This is the reason why there are so many “share buttons” and various gameplay sharing features are present in next gen consoles. I never buy games by viewing any ads (and I have ad blocker plus installed), I buy and discover from Facebook, reddit, blogs posts and YouTube.

These studios take in more than half of your revenue to publish the game and keep the IP rights to themselves. If you take this route, you’re not an independent. It is also hard to go this route.

But they do help you get featured in big gaming conference events like GDC, E3 or PAX via their booths. If you got a really good title then your engine provider like Epic can also be approached to showcase it. But you need to have a unique positioning for partnerships like these.

A Very Near Future…

Digital distribution is on the rise and not everyone wants to spend $50+ on AAA games. Most people don’t do that, only hardcore gamers like me buy these titles each month. Average gamer doesn’t spend that much money on games. This is one of the reasons:

Mobile games are cheap as you already know, and indies don’t cost more than $20 in most cases. Many indies are going for F2P route too and monetize more effectively based on the in game experience, when user is in an emotional state that can be motivated to spend money.

Why mobile and indie games are on the rise …

This helps indie target a HUGE segment in the industry, the people who’re not hardcore gamers but still prefer gaming.

This is a huge segment and that is why Sony is investing obnoxious amount in funding and support for PS4 and Vita.

While this year’s GDC survey of over 2.5k developers who attended the conference – OVER 53% were indies. That’s more than half.
If you want to learn more about this industry’s growth and culture, there is a documentary called “GameLoading: Rise Of The Indies” which was funded successfully on kickstarter. Check it out.

“I believe – fiercely and with passion – that the independent video game scene is in the midst of a startling rise to prominence. Why? Because innovative artistic games made by small teams finally have the ability to be easily played and enjoyed by gamers. Viva la indie revolution!” – Simon Carless (Chairman, IGF)

With the cost coming down every single month with new technology getting introduced, reusable assets, source codes and more people getting educated in Unity and tools to provide services to this fast growing indie space via outsourcing, you’re gonna see a whole lot of indie games in a very near future.

In terms of monetization, most games are scaling to release board games and selling it to their user base, selling 3d printed action figures or dolls of their characters. They are good ideas to test as post purchase upsell. And you don’t have to order in bulk, 5 to 10 test orders are perfectly doable if you know some simple rules of negotiation.

In Conclusion

If you follow certain game development principles and have done proper research in the beginning, there has never been a better time to be in the indie gaming business ever.

But remember one key takeaway from this post: You and me (indie business owners) are in the business of selling experience.
(source:gameacademy)

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