Game Releases are Broken

Daniel West has this enormous and insightful article about the perils of releasing a good game when nobody buys it:

There seems to be a prevalent attitude that if you just do everything right, you’re sure to find success. This idea abounds when we talk about games that failed to meet expectations. Much of the time, you’ll see failures explained away as fundamental errors made by the misguided development team. If only they’d gone to more shows! Mailed the right journalists! Put more effort into Youtubers!

[..]

An incredibly low barrier to entry has ensured that the number of games released per month is skyrocketing. As a direct result, it’s harder than ever to make a game that sticks out. The standards for remarkability, marketing, and luck have increased dramatically, meaning that games need to be bigger, better, and have more expensive marketing campaigns to stand out from the crowd.

I’ve lost pretty much all confidence in the possibility of reliably making a living with indie games. I had never put a whole lot of stock in it, however at the moment I see it as a risk that’s simply not worth taking. I can’t help but make games, so I’ll keep working on them in my spare time, but without any real hope for commercial success.

Looking at the screenshot of the game in the article I can’t help but instantly recognize it (somewhat incorrectly) as a side-scrolling gravity-based mobile-game. That is what is uninteresting and unremarkable. It might actually be great, I would be happy to try it out, but there are too many of this specific kind of game right now. Don’t be in the glut, make the thing that other people try to copy.

Author: Jack Slater

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