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Does the game engine you use affect monetization of indie games? Of course, targeting difficult platforms is one of the issues.

Besides that, how would the game engine used impact monetization of games, assuming cases where the developers is going through a portal and handling the online distribution themselves? As an example, if I make a game in DarkBASIC, will it be harder to sell it than one made with Popcaps Framework or ClanLib etc.?

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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Certain engines are cross-platform, others are not. In theory, the more operating systems and devices that you can get your game on, the larger your potential audience. This is one of the great advantages of an engine like Unity3D where the theory is, you write code once and run it on PCs, Macs, browsers, iPads/iPhones and even consoles like the XBox and PS3. Engines which can do this though usually charge for each export option, and each export option has its own costs associated (like the $100 developer subscription to write iPhone apps).

You want an engine which can give you as much control as you require. If you write a game in DarkBASIC, can you implement the Steam API if you want to get it on that platform?

You mention that you will be selling through a portal, in that case, you certainly want to go for the most stable engine you can find. Casual gamers aren't the most computer savvy, you'll want your game to automatically load at the right resolution for their machine and you'll need to it 'just work'. Absolutely no error messages, otherwise the portals will get frustrated forwarding support queries to you.

So out of Popcap's Framework and DarkBASIC? Definitely go for Popcap's framework, which isn't DirectX based and is way more proven.

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The obvious answer seems to be, what are the contracts for said game engines? If they're open-source, what licence are they under? Do you accept the terms of that licence?

Some game engines cost millions of dollars to licence. So obviously thats going to effect the monetization of your game.

I don't see the engine making too much of a difference past that, though if the engine makes the game especially difficult to install or something then thats a problem.

I'd say its more a question of, can you do all that you want with that engine?

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From a pure monetization standpoint - the answer is THERE IS NO IMPACT

What I mean by pure monetization is basically if you put aside the distribution challenges, the cost of making the game and things like publishing deals and funding. This means you are looking at Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) as the criteria for monetization.

Explenation - It doesn't matter if you choose Unity, DarkBasic, Shiva or an open source framework like OpenGL or Cocos-2d - they all deal with the visualization of the game. All of these are exported into byte code that will work in a native environment and from that point on you can add any form of monetization. Most of them even include plugins for popular monetization options.

What does Game Engine Impact:

  • Game Distribution - Your distribution is affected by what hardware platforms you are running on and not all game engines support all hardware platforms which can limit your ability to get new users
  • Cost and ROI - Some game engines will cost significantly more than others. This means that you will need to make a lot more money to cover your costs and have a positive return on your investment (ROI)
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