What Went Right
- Experimenting with marketing -- you never know what will work
- Focusing on quality. The love and polish that we put into our games shines through and it established us as a player in the iPhone marketplace
- Forming relationships and asking for assistance wherever possible
- Targeting niches was a very successful tactic. Making an Australia-themed game as an Australian studio helped to push us up in the local charts
What Went Wrong
- Even though we tried to scope small, we still ended up making games bigger than we should have. Each release teaches us so much. We feel not releasing more often was a mistake
- Developing art-heavy games without an artist was really tough. We should have made art through generative processes
- Inefficient production and an under appreciation of our time. It really shows -- only two iPhone games in a whole year!? Just because our time is free doesn't mean it's not valuable!
Suggestions for Indies Beginning In 2010
Every studio is different. You must develop your own plan. Hopefully these suggestions can help inform your plan.
- Make games that you love making
- Invest all of the company's money and effort into establishing itself, try not to withdraw funds for survival until the company can truly sustain itself
- Invest in marketing and strategize how you will stand out; make it a part of everything you do
- Find whatever grants, government, and association support you can utilize
- Get to know the press. They are very friendly. Learn to know what makes a story. Give them a story and they will run it
- Prototype and make tiny games. Record metrics of how players are playing, then iterate quickly
- Build social features into every game
- Dedicate at least 30 percent of your time to marketing from day one
- Use Unity. No sane indie developer in 2010 would make their own engine! 2009 was a different time, OK? Geez!
What We’ve Achieved So Far in Year 2
In the six months since April 2010, we have:
- Released Train Conductor 2: USA as a fully fledged sequel onto the App Store
- It outsold the original within six weeks!
- Tripled the first twelve months revenue in half the time -- generated $76,000 revenue from April to September 2010.
- Raised the star ratings of our games on iTunes with each update!
- Begun to make better use of outsourcing; especially for trailers and PR
- Greatly improved our production methodology
- Begun to build social and viral features that allow the games to propogate themselves
- Promoted the games in a variety of ways including -- but not limiting ourselves to -- indie dev competitions
- Won the NEIS National "Best New Business" Award
- Listed in Apple's "Highly Addicted Games" promotion. Featured regularly within "What's Hot", "Staff Picks" and "New & Noteworthy" in more than 25 countries
- A member on the board of The Game Developers Association of Australia