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Hi Red,

I thin you'd need to put the $100k of effort in first and then also be thinking about updates.

Updates and continued rollout of content are very important for an iPhone app to build momentum. Angry Birds, for example, has seen many a level pack update in its time.

What tends to happen when these updates come out is that it creates a while new round of buzz from the fans, who tweet and share in turn, and drive more of their readers to check it out. That drives sales, and so Angry Birds stays up in the charts.

Thanks for the comment.


Kudos to fbindie, derek and baneau for trying to bring a bit of hard won wisdom to the discussion.

As for the rest, there are large quantities of poor information here:

- Yes, you can make a living off Flash games. It is a regularly reproducible tale, not some crazy outlier.
- However you need to be competent at both making a good game and distributing your game. This isn't rocket science, but many small developers screw it up. Practice and research makes perfect.
- Have skills in server-backed games and micro-transactions helps immensely. If you do not have the skills to make modern games, acquire those skills through practice. Hiring multiple people to make up for your inadequacies is just poor business on your part, not an impossible barrier for everyone.
- No, you really do not need to spend $100,000 to make a high quality game. This is old industry thinking radically scaled down but still out of touch with the realities of indie development.

This entire conversation is couched poorly.
- Success in the low budget world is often a long term activity. You use moderate successes to build brand and community. The measuring stick of 'a single game that made a lot of money' is outdated. Instead, it is far more sane to ask if a person or team's multiple games over a long period of time (years) resulted in a sustainable business.
- Most of the high growth opportunities are in less mature markets so the fundamental assumption that you need a certain level of polish to make money is flawed.

In the end, the major claim of this essay (you need $100,000 to make a decent game or else you are doomed from that start) is an easy excuse for an risk-adverse individual to not make a great game. Beware the lies you tell yourselves to makes your current failure more palatable.

take care,

Account Deleted

Hi, Tadhg I'm from Brazil, and I don't now if this reality that you showed us only applies outside of my country, but lots of game developers here can make good games by very low prices, something below R$50.000 (the money is in Reais, which is priced at U$1.7).
Do this variation on the money amount needed happens because you are accounting a very high value to the developer revenue?


Hi Bruno,

I am speaking largely for the EU and US markets when making this about. In much lower value currency markets the strict amount of money would of course be quite different.

The point wasn't so much to do with a strict dollar amount however. What it's really about is time, amount of effort and so on. Regardless of which economy you are in, it still takes time and effort to make a great game.

Thanks for the reply,

Mike Mainguy

Good post! I had to riff on this as it hit close to home and I really liked the term "bowfinger syndrome".

Mike Mainguy

Good post! I had to riff on this as it hit close to home and I really liked the term "bowfinger syndrome".


Great post Tadhg. I started an unsuccessful studio a while back and I can't agree more. We use to host gamejams where we can prototype a game and make it functional with a team of five in one sitting (10-15 hours). Some of them we'd even play for more than two minutes to test everything out, but the majority lacked the feel of all the pistons firing at full speed: the art didn't match the music which didn't match the setting and the gameplay was imbalanced. Those were just games with one simple mechanic.

I think like Jonathon mentioned, it's a matter of balancing & polish. Flash games just have had a tradition of 1offs because of their distribution. That doesn't mean it's not possible imho. The platform is capable of making serious stuff (like Lolapps' fliso engine) if you market it & distribute it properly.

Jacob Gill

I'm an independent Android developer who just released my third project, The Infinite Black, which is an MMO created on a budget of zero in under two months. Although it's still in a beta state, many of my users are coming back every day for 2+ hours a day, and begging for the opportunity to pay-to-play longer (it uses a turn-limited system soon to be fed with microtransactions).

My previous game, Fortunes of War, was created on a budget of zero in about two months as well, and has had reasonable success. It more than paid back the rent/bills/time/equipment it took to create. I get feedback from many users who say it's one of the only games they keep playing on their phone daily, and the metrics from my ad revenue reflect that.

While I understand where you're coming from with this article, which may be accurate for many developers, my personal experience leads me to believe that indies shouldn't be nearly so discouraged. I've never had anything remotely like a budget of 100k, or even 10k, but I'm seeing respectable income from my creations that has let me continue to develop more.

If you have the skill to execute a solid idea, and can spare the time it takes to get it to market, then go for it!

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