Starting as an indie game developer

August 5th, 2012

Earlier this year, I think it must have been around end of March, I decided to spend more time on game development for Windows Phone. I have been developing on a really slow pace for Windows Phone since the start. But since I made this decision, I have spent about 1/3 of my time investigating the market and developing. This is the story:

The first game I released since then is "Sudoku" and I am at the point of releasing another game in the following weeks. I agree that "Sudoku" is not the most original title, but the reason for this choice is threefold:

  • Firstly, it served as a way to develop a set of components and usercontrols that I can reuse in future games reducing development time in the future.
  • Secondly, it gave me a chance to learn how to market the game and what I could expect as a revenue from it. You do not want to learn this on a game you have invested a lot in.
  • Finally, if it is possible to have a reasonable success with a game like sudoku, then there is a real potential of making money of other apps.

In the last 4 months I made a huge progress on all three levels. The game got featured on different blogs and in the marketplace and with about 15000 downloads the daily income is no longer a laughable low. Notwithstanding the road to success is still long and difficult, it can still be considered as a very successful release of "Sudoku".

As I am pretty new in this sector, the question of what the success factor is remains partly unanswered. But any of the following factors have clearly contributed:

  • Feature complete: Make sure that your app is as complete and as polished as it can be when you release it. In my case, and in most cases for games, this means polished graphics and good sounds, different levels and play modes, best times, ... You will never get the same success with a half-baked game.
  • Promotion: Promote your app in any way you can. After the release I have spent half of my time promoting the app and understanding it effects. There are only 2 ways of promotion that will give you an immediate boost: Getting featured on a blog or getting featured in the marketplace. For me the effect of both have been comparable. Any other means of promotion (paid ads in apps and on websites, social media) has been negligible. So get the word out and promote yourself to blogs and the Microsoft marketplace.

While having been really successful with my game, the main problem I am facing is breaking through in the countries where you benefit most from advertisements. At this moment the majority of the players are coming from countries that do barely generate income. The conclusion is that there is a real challenge in this for the following months, but the past months have also convinced me to keep giving it a try.

p.s. download my games and give it the best review ever if you want to support me in this adventure.

p.p.s no cats or other animals were harmed during the writing of this blog post.

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