in General

Game Development Income

Inspired by Jake Birkett‘s game dev income chart, I decided to dig out my own data and make a similar chart. I figured it would be a good way to start the year looking at a retrospective of my time as an independent developer.

Game income2

Some interesting observations:

  • I made zero income in my first two years as as independent developer! I was supplementing my income writing a column for Game Developer Magazine, teaching classes, and doing some contracting. I even started interviewing thinking I would have to give up the indie life and go back to work for a company. I always tell new game developers to be ready not to make any money for a while for this reason.
  • Flower Garden seems to have a reasonable tail in spite of minimal updates. Every so often I feel a bit guilty for not doing more with it, but even if I wanted to spend time on it, I can’t think of anything that would increase sales.
  • Subterfuge is a blip in the radar. But what’s even worse, Subterfuge took 3.5 years to make, whereas Flower Garden was around 2 years (including all updates).
  • The US tax system isn’t really set up for people with really spikey income like this.
  • I need to make games more quickly.

Here’s to releasing a game in 2017 that is visible on that chart!

  1. When I first heard about your game I thought damn not an easy game to sell. But with a dream team like this I really hoped it could work. You have nothing to regret I think, would you do something differently if you had to do it again ?
    The trailer was awesome, the tutorials were great, and the gameplay balance was a masterpiece, like a Swiss clock. So it’s just that there were not enough people interested in this kind of game. But now it’s done, and the world is a better place because this game exists :). Looking forward to your next game.

    • Thanks! I consider Subterfuge the best game I’ve made so far, so I’m definitely happy I made it.

  2. I think Subterfuge, like its Inspiration Neptuns Pride are as games just too intense to be big hits financially. I played 1 epic game of Neptuns Pride and 1 even more epic match of Subterfuge. Although I loved it while playing I probably will never go back to play another match. I just can’t put myself through those stressful times again. 😉

    Anyway: I wish you the best for every release in 2017.

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