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March 28, 2020
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It's not an easy life to be an indie game developer

by Sergiu Craitoiu on 03/11/16 12:31:00 pm

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


It’s not an easy life to be an indie game developer. I am an indie game developer, I have a few friends (artists, programmers, musicians) which are indie game developers and we all struggle to succeed in launching our games.

indie game developer

Let’s be honest, most games don’t even get to see daylight for a couple of reasons. Most notably:

  • Developing a game is super time consuming and it’s really hard to do it in your free time if you have a full time job, a family and even other hobbies. This can lead to frustration and you will lose interest and eventually quit.
  • Developing a game requires money. If you are working on a game for a longer period of time, unless you are lucky and multitalented, you will encounter money issues. If you have a company you will have this problem from the start, but if you are working alone or with some friends at some point in time you have to pay for some services. And of course this problem is related to the first one because you could do freelancing in your time instead of working on your game.
  • The stores are flooded with games, especially mobile stores. Everyone knows this, every indie game developer. If the game doesn’t stand out somehow, there are huge chances that the game will not succeed. This can demotivate people and eventually quit.


Most indie game developers don’t want to understand that marketing is a huge part of the process. As a friend said the idea is 5%, the execution is 30% and the rest is marketing. Just a few days ago a friend told me that he wants to see his game finished and after that he will see what happens. I made that mistake in the past (wrote an article here), I don’t want to do this mistake again. I told him that you should quickly market it somehow otherwise the game is not going to do so well on Google Play Store. It’s important to have a vision over your project, to have a marketing plan right from the beginning. Even if you work with a publisher, you still have to promote yourself. Consider that not all publishers are big enough to reach thousands of gamers.


I would like to speak here about Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns, which you might think that they can solve the problems mentioned above. After your project is backed: you will have press coverage, gamers will contact about you, the game will receive attention, etc. After you had a successful campaign you should spend the money wisely, not on beer and strippers :). Go to gaming conferences around the world, present your game to large audiences, enter some startup accelerators, there are tons of things you can do.

But, why is hard to run a successful campaign on Kickstarter and Indiegogo even if your game is awesome?

Because there are a few problems:

  • To run a successful campaign, you need a strong marketing plan because people have to find about you and your campaign somehow. Sadly, for indie games developers there are some game studios that take advantage of that. Gagame-devme studios and publishers (even smaller ones) can invest money to market their campaign and dominate these crowdfunding platforms. In most of cases they invest just to gain popularity for their game and of course they win their money back after the campaign is over. Ask yourself, why a game studio which is developing a complex game ask only for 20000$ for example? After all taxes, they can pay their employees for 4 or 5 months and the game is going to be released after 20 months. I’m not saying that this is done with bad intension, this is just a marketing plan. A good one if you ask me.
  • There are too many campaigns on Kickstarter/Indiegogo from different areas and fields. It’s impossible for Kickstarter staff, for example, to get involved with your game and promote it somehow.
  • There are so many board games near video games. Kickstarter should do a separate category for this. Don’t even want to know what happened to projects that ran the campaign in the same period with Exploding Kittens a year ago.

A friend told me about a new project called GameKicker focusing only on video games. From what I understand, they will accept only independent game developers to create campaigns so hopefully game studios will stay out of this. Also they will provide a campaign manager to coach the teams in order to run a successfully campaign. This can really help indie developers to raise money and bring their games to life.


Unfortunately, they will use Stripe as payment gateway which for the moment is not available in all countries. For example, I can’t use this platform from Romania. But who know what is going to happen in the future. This project will solve some of the problems mentioned above. Can’t wait to see their impact.

Note: I wrote this post on a while ago and I thought that Gamasutra readers should read this too.

Thanks, Sergiu Craitoiu


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