The main deterant to starting a gaming studio, as with any business, is cost. There’s the equipment costs, but then the unexpected expenses that come up nearly every day. I’ve encountered all these in my attempts to get started with my own independent game studio, Coonpaw Studio.
My development platform of choice is the Clickteam series of products because they’re easy to use. I started with their product “Klik & Play” and have worked my way up to the recent Multimedia Fusion 2, which costs about $500 for the license needed to sell your product. The web hosting is about additional $300 annually for a decent host with enough bandwidth to handle the traffic of at least 1,000 users daily.
I also use sound bytes online from sites such as Flashkit.com. While there are a lot of “free” sound loops, sound effects, music, etc out there, you’ll find very quickly that this is only for “Personal Use Only”. Should you commercialize your product, companies want a flat payment for a single 30-second sound loop, while others expect a 2-3% royalty from your game’s monthly revenue.
Artists can be quite costly depending on the needs of your game. Even a mediocore artist will soak up your budget. There are art assets available on the Internet, but similar to music, they will expect royalties and payment for commercial use.
Last but not least, there will be a lot of miscellaneous tools, such as a commercial install program generator. If you simply slap your game in a zip file, nobody will bother extracting it to a folder somewhere on their system.
So what does this really amount to? Starting out in our example here, we need $500 for the engine and license to commercialize your end product, as well as $300 for a domain name and web hosting with decent bandwidth for your needs. We’ll also need three sound effects – another $300. Then bundle all that with an artist for one game’s assets I don’t have skills to make personally, we’ll say an additional $500. Already you are pushing a $1,600-$1,700 budget. And this doesn’t count time investment.
If you are the sole individual at your studio, then you’re done. If you require helping hands, an additional staff can easily come to another $2,500-$4,000. Fortunately, I’m a single game developer.
Wow, $1,700. Where is that money coming from? I had to look into fundraising solutions. I originally thought of Kickstarter. “Sorry, we don’t allow startups to have a Kickstarter, only projects.” Ouch. I continued looking and ran smack into the brick wall, hammer and chisel in hand that is IndieGoGo, which allows anything as long as you’re passionate.
How is the IndieGoGo fundraiser working out for me so far? At the time of writing this, I have $40 from contributors with 39 days left. This means there are people out there that care about what I want to do. Complete strangers who want to help me in turn for the small benefits I can provide.
This is my dream, I want to become an Indie developer and I’m definitely up for the challenge. Will you be up to the challenge for your own dream?