Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February Post

Hey everyone,

I've been incredibly busy lately.  I had about a dozen meetings last week, and at least one meeting each day this week.  I’m starting to book into next week.  Because I meet so many people now and our attrition rate is so high, I've started going into meetings with the idea that I’ll try and scare people away from wanting to join the team.  So far, I still have yet to meet anyone that decided not to join.  So it doesn't seem to be working.  But at least I’m giving people a more grim idea of the game industry in general and the amount of work, working on a game requires.

Our attrition rate has started to come down a little.  That’s partly because we now have some people that have been around for a long while and now there’s at least a core group I can count on.  That makes things a lot easier.  But it’s also because I've been giving artists art tests.

Productivity among the programmers has increased since moving to my father’s office.  It’s inspired me to think even harder about getting us funding so we can all work on Dawnshine full time in an office.  But our funding options are bleak.  Without having any games out, it’s impossible for an investor or publishing company to be able to assess us.  So that’s looking pretty unlikely for now.  So I was thinking about alternatives for self-funding.

There’s still Kickstarter, of course.  That might help a little and I might still do that.  But another possibility is for us to make mobile games.  I've talked to the team about it, and they’re on board to give it a try.  We have the talent to make it happen, and it can be quite profitable.  I asked a guy I know about it.  He makes mobile games with his grandson.  I asked him how much he makes on his best selling game.  He told me $1,000 bucks a day.  I thought that it must be a new game that just came out, and that money will taper off.  But no, he said that’s a 4 year old game and it’s still making that kind of money.  He said they have a few others than make a few hundred dollars a day.  Um, wow.  Not to be mean, but I've seen the guy’s games that he’s shown off at game events here in Sacramento.  And they’re simple games with very basic art.  Really nothing special.

I’m thinking that $1,000 dollars a day could pay for a small studio in an industrial office area and hire 10 people at $15 dollars an hour(not spectacular wages, but it’s a start) and still have a little bit of money left over each week.  Why aren't we doing that now?  I took a look at the top grossing games on the iStore.  They’re stupid, most of them.  Many of them wouldn't take a few people from the team more than a week.

I have a feeling though, it’s not as easy as it looks.  If you make the best game in the world and no one knows about it because they’re too busy playing the pimple popping game, then you won’t make a dime.  And although the mobile market is growing and will continue to do so over the next several years, I notice that just about all the big game companies are hiring mobile developers.  That means the market is going to be completely dominated by big budget, well produced (and free) games that the indie developer will have a harder and harder time competing against.

If that’s true and we want to put out some games to make some money, we need to do it now while the market is still fairly indie friendly.  We’ll see how that goes.  From my research recently, the best money comes from making free games with ads in it.  Also, from what little I could find online about it, if you’re an unknown developer, you’ll get very little money per ad click, which is bad because you’ll also be getting far less people clicking.  So if you get 200 players per day, only 5% of which click on the ad, and each click only pays $0.10 cent per click, that’s a buck a day.  Pretty grim.  From what I've heard, this is the fate of most developers.  Or, 80% of games will make less than $3,000 dollars over its lifetime.  That’s the only statistic I could find, and it’s a grim one.  Well, it’s not too bad if it’s one guy living in the boonies making one game a month.  But bad for us trying to support a few dozen people.

Another possibility.  We could make a really good game and put no ads in it other than ads for our other games which we’ll release right after.  That would get our name out there and get us some revenue eventually.  Something to think about, at least.

I've been thinking about target demographics.  There’s the mom at the bank with a screaming kid, so she pulls out her iPhone to give to the kid to give them some game to play to keep them quiet.  Making games that would appeal to little kids… hmm.  Then people at school who want to play multiplayer games with their friends during lunch.  That’s actually a really cool idea.  Think about how annoying LAN parties are.  You have to haul your desktop over to your friend’s house.  Much easier to just pull out your phone, and you don’t even have to plan that in advance because you’re likely to have your phone with you anyways.

These aren't the type of games that get me excited.  I mean, I don’t even have any games on my phone.  But if this means I could be able to pay people, yeah, I’ll make Hello Kitty / Pokemon style whatever games.  Ok, I don’t really know what a Pokemon is.  Step one, look up what a Pokemon is.  Step two ???  Step three, profit.  This is the start of my business plan.  I think I need help.