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I recently left my full-time job for an independent game development career. So far things are going well: I've created two games for the iPhone (one has been in the app store for a month or so and the other has been in review for about a week). I'm working on a third game now. Each time the game development life cycle is shorter while the product quality is higher. However I am not yet making a living from my games.

My savings can support me for another year. Here's my general plan:

  1. make a few more games
  2. in 8-9 months look for a job in the game industry (if my games are not paying the bills yet)

How would you proceed in this situation?

Perhaps you would look for a game dev job immediately. Or you would move somewhere with a lower cost of living hence maximizing your time to work independently. Or something else.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Depending on what kind of game you make, it might be up to six months between you finish it and actually profiting from it. \$\endgroup\$
    – zaratustra
    Nov 28 '10 at 19:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good question, however consider changing the question in bold "How would you proceed in this situation?" to "How would you start an indie game dev career?" because as it stands the question is localised to you alone or at the very most a niche of people. +1 for the question \$\endgroup\$
    – kymully
    Nov 30 '10 at 14:49
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iPhone development is a bit of a minefield for indie development. Unless you can catch a ride on the hype train, your game is unlikely to get anywhere; there is just too much competition. My advice would be; focus on making a few great games rather than a bunch of decent ones, and talk about your games as much as possible. Send emails to TechCrunch, Engadget, Kotaku...anyone you can think of that might enjoy the game enough to write an article. If you can get your game featured on a major blog you will do well.

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Financial planning is outside the scope of this site, and there isn't really enough information to help you with that side of things. That question is something you're going to have to answer yourself.

And on top of that, I would say that in order to really answer that question you would have to provide links to your games so we can look at them and see what you're doing wrong (read: provide constructive criticism).

If you reword your question to be more game specific, i.e. "my iPhone games aren't generating enough revenue to support myself, how can I fix this", then it becomes a more interesting problem.

With that question in mind, my suggestion (not knowing what you've done already) would be to specifically target the games you're creating for the "freemium" model. Specifically, free to play with in-app purchases. That paradigm seems to get a significantly higher ROI than the traditional up-front purchase way. You'll probably get more conversions through IAP since free games get easily 100x more downloads than a paid game, even at a .99 price point.

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  • Advertise. If your game is good enough, then maybe you just need to let more people know that it exists.
  • Port your games to other platforms. That increases your potential market with a disproportionately low increase in effort.
  • Cross-sell. Make sure that players of one of your games are aware of your other games and become repeat customers.
  • Change your monetization methods. If you're currently just getting money from purchases, consider moving to a freemium model.
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Consider doing less games but increasing the quality/fun/challenge of it so it will become successful. You need to bring an amazing concept on the table in order to pierce the market. If you just do a quick spin off of another game, that's not good enough.

I agree with Tetrad. Put the link of your games so we could help you in a better way.

Cheers,

Raistx

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If you really want to look for a job in the games industry, think about what you want to focus on.

If you code, what aspect of coding?

AI? Do a nice, AI heavy game Graphics? Do a game showing off as many different techniques as you can do/know.

Put all of these in a nice online portfolio as well.

I would also advise you to learn C++ as well if you don't know it. Seeing as Iphone games use Objective C I'm sure it wont be too much of a problem for yourself.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The importance of portfolios drops dramatically for programmers after you already have work experience, whether inside or outside of the game industry. \$\endgroup\$
    – user744
    Nov 30 '10 at 15:01

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