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Thoughts about Business

A topic by Pigdev Studio created Mar 21, 2018 Views: 161 Replies: 5
Viewing posts 1 to 2
(Edited 2 times)

Intro

I'm in for the #1GAM and currently I already made 2 games in a row, Bard's Lesson and No Diet for Good Pigs (release April's 5th), but I already did another game within a month, but wasn't #1GAM related, Moon Cheeser

Moon Cheeser

Bard's Lesson

No Diet for Good Pigs


Why I took the challenge?

Many game developers has the dream to make a masterpiece and then engage in the industry from there to another project, and so on and so forth. But I have the dream to make an ever growing game studio with the main goal being entertaining the more players as possible. But I funded Pigdev Studio with an even more ambitious mission:

Pigdev Studio will provide free games, as in freedom, to help build a freer game industry

In this sense, every game, including all its assets are open source and free to use, no strings attached. But what does it have to do with #1GAM?

The Business Model

This mindset led me to try a bunch of business models until I reach the current one, which I call Recurrent Entertaining Content the idea consists in creating entertainment in a regular basis for our player, which will be able to play the games without any initial barriers. And for this, I'm studying new process both for design and production of games, using the time spam of one month to test and improve the studio's techniques.

After releasing a game each month (releases happen on Month's 5th) the game will then be available for play, but its development isn't finished. Player's will be able to report issues using GitHub issue tracking tools. Bugs and fixes are made asap, since they are due to our mistakes

But, since the game repository is also open, both players and other professionals will be able to participate in further improvements, there are many ways to participate, for instance a common player can:

  • Suggesting new features
  • Reporting bugs and glitches
  • Suggest more inclusive approaches or feedbacks

It also depends on the skills of the players, since the project will be open, and under MIT license, players, designers, artists and engineers (programmers) will be able to fork the project and make their own version, with their own approach, contents, etc... They can even try to make money with their version, again, no strings attached. But here we have an even more interesting insight. You can try to make your version, or a piece of it, CANON by asking a Pull Request in the official repository, so maybe your storyline becomes official, or maybe your character or boss or enemy enters in the official game version.

But until now there is nothing related to actual business, right?

How will the studio survive?

Since we are actual human beings and we thankfully live in a pseudocapitalist society, this model has to be profitable, right? Otherwise it would mean it isn't valuable for anyone, or at least the value people give to it doesn't pay the costs. Well I designed two fronts for incomes:

  • Recurrent Content will be funded through PATRONAGE, where patrons can participate in the design and development process of the upcoming games.
  • Development Cycles would be done to fund the implementation of new features and chapter of available games, using itch.io's Bundles and Sale's Goal features, with stretching goals more content and different medias will be available for the games (wallpapers, OSTs, posters, etc...)

The second part will be used to implement, improve and push the game's roadmap to the next release. These cycles will happen until the game reaches a level of quality at or beyond the quality demanded by Steam players, where the game will then be sold with a full price, of course people engaged in the process above will have access to it in forehand.

Feedback wanted

So I would like to know from you, which are the scenarios which this business model can go either wrong or well, and how sustainable can it be? Does it have potential? Since our studio stands hardly against Intellectual Property, this is the best model, after 2 years, I could design so that our studio doesn't rely on these laws. This is due to both, philosophical and financial reasons.  

(+1)

In using the MIT License I see a few potential problems. 1st off you will be making your own competition. With Patreon being your major method of support you will be relying upon people to be willing to pay for exclusive features of having a say in how the game is developed while also enabling anyone to offer the same benefits.

On the subject of being able to make your game or portion of the game β€œcannon” I think that will end up being based on popularity. The most popular version/best marketed version would become cannon, while the official version and less popular versions would become ripoffs.

On that subject how do you plan on marketing this?

Here is my idea on how to improve your idea. First off focus less on making free to use games, and focus more on free to use software and assets. To explain further what you ought to do is design a game that is made of several parts. Those parts can be easily utilized independently, and your game is a demonstration of how they can be used together. You start out however without everything being freely available instead giving paterons a license to the items with the understanding that after a period of time those items would be re-released as a MIT licensed software or similar license. The completed game can be free to play as a marketing tool for the software, and you can eventually release it to the public domain You can also give patrons the ability to recommend features for the software and for the game prior to their release.

Thank you so much for the feedback!

You gave me lots of thoughts and I agree with almost everything you said. I liked how you pointed a possible solution but let's dig a little bit on it, can we?

My studio stands for free content (as in freedom, not as in price :P). Your suggestion is really amazing because it enables us to make 2 products that feed loop themselves. The game that can be used as a marketing tool for the assets we from Pigdev were discussing this only as a passive incoming (sell assets and tools we used for our games) but really, this can be a good business model. We use the tools as a product for the patrons and they can decide what comes next, right?

I see this as a really good and sustainable business model, we can in forehand give access to our patrons using itch.io patron integration, and sell them here on itch! It's a nice strategy imo.

The only problem I see, but isn't a huge/un-work-aroundable problem, is that:

  1. The target audience would be gamedevs in that sense, right?
  2. Gamedevs use very specific tools, so this model is "niche" oriented, no problem with that actually
  3. But unfortunately the the free tools I used have a very small niche

The points above can be actually tested to see if they are actually problems and if there's enough demand for this. The major "manage" issue we would have is to rework the Patreon page to be more "gamedev oriented".

This model can even scale to game's audience later on, right? I mean, after having enough games being showcased we can pick them and rework to a "gamer oriented" audience!! Using something like "games as a service".

Like peeps from Rocket Cat did, but this on a long term strategy. This idea matches some of the insights we had watching these videos from Tim Ruswick:

And also:

Since you finished off with some videos I thought I would drop some relating to my thoughts. 1 by handing out the games to be open source/free to manipulate you come across an issue where you risk quickly killing off any ip you create. The following videos are about how warhammer 40k used careful licensing control to avoid killing off their own ip, while still providing many devs with the ability to use it. With a open source/free to manipulate license you run into the problem of very limited control as you remove yourself from having a say in how the games are produced.

and this one

Your video about live games is interesting, and I thought I would bring up the reason why alot of AAA games are released on a live system or similar monotization system. The reason being that the games no longer can be sold for the price of $60. here is a video on that

(+1)

Having accessible source code offers surprisingly little downturn in sales, because only the technically minded will even care. The only real caution is someone else deciding to sell binaries, which would be allowed under MIT license, and them undercutting your prices or offering a more enticing package (either by lying or just having a nice presentation).

(+1)

Cant's this downside you presented (other people selling game better than me) be used as an advantage? I mean...it's like a marketing AB test to see which landing page have more retantion, but in this case it can actually be proved better because it is already selling.

I mean, Moon Cheeser has a mod that someone else did and published on playstore, and after nearly 6 months of publish Moon Cheeser latest version has, it is still the game which profited more of my library (I did sell a "developer" bundle with editable source files for assets and source code) and I got surprised that the 4th in rank of trafic (below even itch) was a referal link to the mod on Playstore and 5th is a referal to the mod's page on itch.

So I learned some valuable things there, and it's something that I can keep implementing both on old games (through new development cycles) and to new games.

But something you talked that I did realize it should take carefully is the actual packaging of the games, for this to work, as you pointed, my versions shall always be the best they can, and taking the risk to lose, let's say, 20% of sales to another page elsewhere because they do better packages controlling the comparison...is a huge risk which can cost a whole development cycle.

I shall work on that before releasing a big project