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Is an Indie RTS practical?

Posted on 2015-01-28
Last Modified: 2015-02-03

My Indie RTS is coming along nicely. But, do off-chart games have any chance of becoming noticed? except in an underground space? Any examples?
I do have a unique slant on RTS, as suggested.

Question by:beavoid
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LVL 27

Accepted Solution

dpearson earned 375 total points
ID: 40575751
If you can package it as a web game (i.e. the client is a web client) you can submit it to Kongregate (http://www.kongregate.com/) and if it's good it'll find an audience.

You can also set it up as a Facebook game (if it's a web friendly client) and try to drive an audience through social media.

In general generating an audience for a game is a huge challenge.  Just hoping that "people will hear about a new good game" is naive.  There's a lot of people in the game space (I think I read there's something like 100 new games that launch each day!) and most of the successful ones have a marketing budget to drive initial traffic to the game.

FYI - these days if you're trying to make money from your game, do NOT charge an upfront fee for it.  You need to monetize players after they play and love it.  The market for games where you pay up-front is definitely shrinking fast.  (E.g. On mobile 2 years ago games that charged $2 could make a fortune - today they're making nothing because there's so much good "free" content - as in free to start playing).


Assisted Solution

by:Jim Riddles
Jim Riddles earned 125 total points
ID: 40575827
I don't know what it takes, but you should look into what it would take to get your game on Steam.  You can even add it as a "pre-release" version and get beta-testers who pay you for the privilege.

Of course, if you do that, you should include extras for those individuals.

Regarding @dpearson's comment about games not charging an up-front fee, that is somewhat correct.  The free-to-play model has become more prominent, but I don't believe that the idea of charging a fee for games is going to go away within the next few years.  Especially for the big studios, there are large costs involved in creating some games, and they couldn't possibly hope to get a ROI with only in-game purchases.

Create a Facebook page for your game and try to get as many people as possible to that page.  Use promotional give-aways, etc...  I am not a marketing expert, but if you want to get your game out there, you will need to market it, in some way.  (As @dpearson already pointed out.)
LVL 27

Assisted Solution

dpearson earned 375 total points
ID: 40576323
but I don't believe that the idea of charging a fee for games is going to go away within the next few years

Just to be clear - I mean for a small independent developer you're not going to make any real money if you go for a "charge first" model.  A major studio can certainly still do that because they'll be running a million dollar marketing campaign.  The super cool trailer is your "free to play" portion of that experience :)  (Even then I saw Turbine said when they converted some existing MMOs from pay-first to free-to-play it boosted revenue 3x).

But for an indie you really need a way for people to play for free.

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Author Comment

ID: 40576883
That is awesome.
Kongregate helped you? - looks like my free to play angle will fit in nicely.
The weekly or monthly contests are ideal for my serious-prize-money philosophy.
How will regular people find out about it? Is Kongregate pretty big already? They do all the seeking.
I don't care entirely about page ad revenue, although that is v. nice. - their % share is reasonable. Publicity is a main concern of mine, initially. So them profiting is totally worth it.
Obviously I will have Adwords, Adsense a-plenty which I know about from a blog I drew users for. Entrance fees will probably be my main income. Will I still have my own home page for my game or does Kongregate just require a percentage of ad revenue? Can I leave them after a while?

The Outernauts game CEO said -

“Kongregate brought in a lot of players at no cost to us … this has been a critical part of making Outernauts a success.”

Interesting. I don't see how they make money? ah percentages - here

I may ask about the API once my game is close to ready.
What if my game - RTS - isn't grounded in Adsense?

LVL 27

Assisted Solution

dpearson earned 375 total points
ID: 40578037
Launching your game on Kongregate doesn't make it exclusive to them - so you're free to follow other paths and monetize in other ways.  They pay a higher percentage the more work you put in to integrate with them.

Personally we did poorly on their platform.  The games we make tend to be things people either love or hate.  That's not a great fit for their platform because you want a game that most people like (so it gets a high average rating - higher rating leads to a lot more plays.  We only got about 3-stars and didn't make much money).  Long term a game that people love or hate actually monetizes really well (the only people who will ever pay you in a free-to-play model need to love your game) but it's tricky on Kongregate.  Doesn't mean it's not a good platform to try.

To finish the story, most of our early traffic (before we could pay for marketing) came from parternship deals - rev-shares where we'd put our game on somebody else's website and we'd give them a direct share of revenue made (e.g. perhaps 50-50 split).  That gave us traffic and them money.  But it also required a person full-time contacting game sites, setting up meetings, going to conferences etc.  to do relationship building.  Not easy if you're a 1-man shop :)


P.S. Hoping to make money off Adsense is a hard path.  Best to do the math ahead of time.

If you get $2.80 CPM for ads that you're showing that means you make $2.80 for every 1,000 ads you show (and those are  actually *good* rates).  You might think that sounds great - but getting 1,000 people to play your game isn't easy and you get 1 cup of coffee from that.  If you get a million people to play your game you get...drum roll... $2,800 or about what you'd earn in a month working at a minimum wage job.  And that's for a million people playing - i.e. a massive hit.

What's the alternative?  In-game transactions - you sell something in the game that people decide they'll pay $1 or $5 for.
The trick is offering something that they care enough about to spend a little cash.  Now if you convert that 1,000 people into each paying $2.80 you got the same revenue as the million people watching ads.

Author Comment

ID: 40579202
I learned a lot of this in a political blog I ran, that fizzled out! I had one month that broke through the payment ceiling and I was thrilled. I personally contacted politically minded people out there and invited them to contribute. Fun, but a lot of work. I decided I wanted to go back to my roots, game programming. My RPM was $4 or $5, probably because it was election time. But it slipped down after the election hype went away.

I'd never attract that many as an indie.
I wanted to keep the check as a trophy, but the bank said they had to take it.
I'm now getting a good sense of how I must approach the financials of my game.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 40587529
Thanks all!

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