MonthFebruary 2015

Gameplay Space for indies

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As I may have mentioned before, I’ve had the chance to work on a game in the Montreal incubator, Execution Labs. It was a great environment to work in, and it just got better! They’ve recently changed locations, and with the help of some other partners, have opened a space in which people in the games industry can work. If you’re an indie based in the Montreal area, you should consider renting out some space there! There are great people working there and you can get some feedback and insight on your projects!

Here’s the press release info on Gameplay Space

Gameplay Space Logo

Gameplay Space Logo

GamePlay Space, A Customized Co-working Space For Game Developers, Opens Its Doors

Montreal – February 16, 2015 – GamePlay Space (GPS), a non-profit co-working space built to suit the needs of video game developers, has opened its doors to the Montreal games community. GPS offers co-working space, meeting rooms, and a special event venue for studios, freelancers, and video game enthusiasts. By bringing together like-minded individuals GPS aims to promote collaboration and innovation within the Montreal games industry.

GamePlay Space is a joint initiative between Execution Labs, Concordia University and other active participants in the Montreal indie game scene. “The game development industry in Montreal needs an open and collaborative space where startups, small studios, and freelancers can meet, share knowledge, and work together. This critical mass of creative professionals will serve as a platform to drive the commercial success and sustainability of the community as a whole” explained Jason Della Rocca, co-founder of games accelerator Execution Labs and president of the GPS Board. Added Bart Simon, Director of TAG, Technoculture, Art and Games, of Concordia University “GamePlay Space is an integrated part of the community, which will facilitate the flow of knowledge, skills and experience across domains of the university, the game industry and media arts.”

Previously operating in a “soft launch” phase, several studios have already joined the GamePlay Space community. Among its first members are Henry Smith, creator of the game Spaceteam, as well as studios Norsfell Games and Clever Endeavour Games. GPS is also hosting a series of events with Pixelles, a local women-in-games initiative.

GamePlay Space welcomes the financial backing of $94,000 from the Ville de Montréal through the Gouvernement du Québec program Entente Montreal 2025, administered by the Secrétariat à la région métropolitaine. “The Ville de Montréal is proud to support the implementation of the GamePlay Space. This project is directly answering the needs of the young and dynamic scene of game developers in need of a collaborative and stimulating space while developing Montreal’s expertise in creativity and innovation” [Translated from French], said M. Harout Chitilian, vice-president of the City’s executive committee in charge of administrative reform, youth, smart city initiatives and information technology. Further financial and advisory support is provided by SDÉVM, la Société de Développement Économique Ville-Marie, and private partners BDO and Fibrenoire.

For more information about GamePlay Space, visit the website at www.gameplayspace.com or contact GPS Director Annie Forté at annie@gameplayspace.com or 514-690-1349.

About GamePlay Space

GamePlay Space is the only co-working environment dedicated to the games industry in Montreal. We are building a collaborative community of developers to share, inspire, and support each other. Founding board members are Jason Della Rocca, Bart Simon, Alain Tascan, Nick Rudzicz, and Alexandre Pelletier-Normand.

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1000 True Fans theory applicable for Indies?

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A while back, I talked about the idea of 1000 fans. Basically, the concept is that if you work in a creative field, you only need about 1000 true fans in order to continue making a living in that field. To fully understand this, we need to define what a true fan is. A true fan is someone that will follow you and will pay for any and all products that you release. To work with a music industry analogy, a true fan of a music band will buy all their albums, go to their shows and buy the t-shirt, the mug, the poster and register in the fan group. The example given in the above link states that if you have 1000 true fans and they each pay 100$/year, you should have a revenue of 100 000$/year, which is good for most people. Of course, if you’re a music band with 5 members, this is not enough. But let’s leave the music industry and get back to our indie situation. How many true fans do we need?

1000 true fans

Long tail of 1000 True Fans

Is 1000 true fans enough for indies?

I’m going to give numbers that apply to my situation as a baseline. Feel free to change them around to fit your situation.

Pretend I’m able to release one (medium-sized) game per year. Since I’m a programmer, I need artists to do the work that I can’t do. I’m going to assume 40k$ for the price of all the art I need for a game. Assuming I want to make 75k$ a year, that I want to sell my game for a 15$ price tag and that the selling authorities take 30% of my sales (i.e Apple, Steam). I would need to sell roughly 11 000 copies to make a living each year.

A little over 10 thousand copies seems like not much, but it’s actually pretty hard to accomplish in the current competitive market. On top of that, I said I would pay 40k$ for outsourced art work. This is a huge investment and risk (for an individual), because this is something I pay regardless of the game’s success. Of course, if I have 11 000 true fans, then this isn’t a problem; but would I take that risk…? And, if the game doesn’t work at all, the losses become enormous!

Of course, there are ways to reduce risk on this situation. If I have true fans, I can leverage them in a crowd funding campaign (Kickstarter, etc.) and reduce the initial risk. Or, I can try to find an artist with whom I can propose a revenue split. Neither situation is perfect, because crowd funding takes a lot of work and often requires that you already something to show. As for revenue split, well, you’re basically asking for someone to take a risk with you; it better be someone you’ve already work with or someone you know well. Another solution is to try to do games that don’t require someone’s help, but that is not always appropriate for all types of games.

So, it seem that the 1000 true fans would not work on a yearly basis for indies. In my case, I would need over 10 times more fans to systematically make enough money to continue living. Like I said before, the numbers I use in this calculation apply to me, but I feel that 10 000 would be a good number of true fans for an indie developer.

The importance of fans

While we may not have true fans waiting patiently for our next work of art, true fans are still an interesting concept to keep in mind. And, they are not only important for your direct sales. One of the major benefits of having true fans today is the impact they may have in communities or in social media. True fans will spread the good word about your company and games to other “normal” people too. And the people that they reach have the potential to become true fans also, but more realistically, they can just become buyers of your games, which means extra income for you.

Of course, the real problem most of us have is not having more than 1000 fans, or even just 1000 fans. It’s having any fans at all! So, how does one acquire true fans? I don’t have the answer to this, but I think it begins with just talking about what you do on a regular basis. Post on the company blog, on twitter. Make screenshots and videos. And of course, release games! On top of these things, I also think another great way to cultivate true fans is trying to interact with the public when possible. This means continuing the PR machine once a game is out, answering questions on Reddit or in your forums and even going to trade shows with your game.

So, when working on your game, make sure you plan some time for marketing to get some true fans!

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