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I have what I think is a great idea for a small android game. It might be crap, but for the sake of the discussion, let's assume it is potentially good. I'm currently learning game development as a self-taught. So if I succeed in creating that game, it won't be before a few years, until I get the technical knowledge to fully build it.

In the mean time, should I talk about that idea (in order to get help, advices, feedbacks) to confirmed developpers I might encounter? My game is not incredibly complex, so it could probably be developped by an experienced programmer in a few months. So if it's actually any good, talking about it means taking the risk of having my idea stolen and developped by someone else.

Is this risk real, or am I completely foolish?

More generally, are there some caveats that a newbie developper should be aware of when sharing ideas and concepts with other people?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Ideas are a dime a dozen, so feel free to talk about your idea to get help and maybe even refine your concept. \$\endgroup\$ – LukeG Apr 23 '17 at 19:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LukeG since your comment effectively answers this question, you should consider posting an answer instead. \$\endgroup\$ – wondra Apr 23 '17 at 20:14
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There are two possibilities:

  1. Your idea is not actually very innovative
  2. Your idea is truly revolutionary

In addition, two main groups may or may not take it:

  1. Big companies
  2. Indie developers

Let us see how this play out:

1-1. A big company has nothing to take from your idea, they already have a backlog of ideas to do in the near future (or sequels to do, har har), and there is people pitching ideas to them regularly. For a big company, ideas are cheap. They do not need to go out taking ideas from individuals, much less, if they are not far from what is already in the industry.

1-2. Chances are the other developers have their own pet projects for which they have passion. Without a wow concept, the only indie developers that may take yours are those who lack ideas of their own... more on this later.

2-1. You have a crazy new concept. It is too much of a risk for a big company to try to copy it before knowing it will work. On the other hand, if you can make a proof of concept and get some publicity, you try to get people or companies to invest in you. Therefore, in this case you should not fear big companies. Just make sure any attention the game gets is associated with you.

2-2. If you got a great concept, in theory somebody may try to rush you to the market. In this case, you may want to be vague until you can say you are actually working on it.


On the work ethics of indie developers, indie developers are people. There have to be a few with little regard for others as in any group.

In general the risk only exist if they perceive your idea as better as theirs and their own talent as better than yours, because that's the situation in which they may win at rushing to the market.

You are going to mitigate this in two ways:

  1. Once you start getting help on your game, pay attention on your language, you aren't a guy with a concept and no idea how to make it... you are working on your idea and you are looking for help.

  2. Everything you do about the game must have your name. Set up a blog; make presence in social media, etc. If somebody else comes up with the same thing, we will all know who is stealing from who, and you will have evidence that you were working on this beforehand.

This will convince others that you are taking this project seriously, which will suggest that it will be harder to rush you to market. In addition, if they do, you have how hold your ground (on one hand because you reached people first, and on the other because they have any legal battle lost♪).

♪: They will not risk a legal battle; they have not reached success yet. Remember that those that may even consider this are not big, and have poor ideas. These are generalizations, of course.

I do not know the future, so I cannot really tell if people will try to steal your idea. In general, other indie developers will more likely want to work with you if they want to work on your concept than try to steal it. Besides, most ideas gets replicated once the pioneer showed that it was a good idea not before.


For abstract: own your game idea. As in, make it clear it is yours.

Are you wondering what would happen, if it fails? Pff, who cares, people will forget about it soon enough. It the game is bad, you would have reached only a small fraction of the people you will reach when eventually you make a good game (so most of those will not know your prior failure).

You are still learning, c'mon! Who can blame you‽ -- me

On that note, every indie developer that has reached fame (that I know of), did not get it on his or her first project.

Release early. Release often. And listen to your customers. -- Eric S. Raymond

It takes twenty years to make an overnight success. -- Eddie Cantor

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Huh, it's rare to see an interrogative point. \$\endgroup\$ – Pharap Apr 23 '17 at 21:05
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Talk about your idea as often and with as many people as you can. The more feedback you can get, the better.

Ideas are far less valuable than you think. Everyone has great game ideas (at least they sound good in their heads...). And just like you, they would rather prefer to work on their own ideas, and not those of someone else. The only ideas people rip off are those which are proven to be commercially successful. Even the most experienced developers can't tell if an idea works just by listening to the concept. You have to actually play it to know if it's fun. That means they won't steal your ideas until they have seen your finished game and verified that your idea works. And even if they steal it before: So what? Similar games come to market all the time. That doesn't make them any worse.

In fact, when someone beats you to market, that's good for you! It gives you the opportunity to look at your game idea in reality and read what players and reviewers have to say about it. That will allow you to find out what works, what doesn't work and how to tweak it to perfection. When you release your game, it will do the idea even better.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is so true! And it's not like there is only a finite number of sales that one type of game can make. Take the platformer for example, did Sonic push Mario out of the market or vice versa? Or did they both inspire more interest in platformers, helping each other to create more interest and innovation? \$\endgroup\$ – Mikael Högström Apr 26 '17 at 6:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MikaelHögström Mario and Sonic are not a good comparison, because they were exclusives for different platforms. They never competed directly for market-share (just indirectly through driving their respective platforms). A better comparison could be to ask if any of the subsequent multi-platform mascot platformers (Bubsy, Aero Acro-Bat, Cool Spot, Earthworm Jim) killed either franchise (they didn't) or were perceived as rip-offs (they were generally not). \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Apr 26 '17 at 6:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're absolutely right :) \$\endgroup\$ – Mikael Högström Apr 26 '17 at 6:59
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It's best to talk to as many people as you can about the game you are developing, or planning on developing because there may be someone out there with a very similar idea, or someone with a fully-fledged game similar to yours. If someone owns a game very similar to yours you would want to know about it since, (I assume), you don't want to have a lawsuit on your hands.

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