There is no “Indie Game Bubble” bursting or an #indiepocalypse, but there is constant natural erosion.
Before I explain what is meant with “natural erosion”, we should take a moment to recap on what spurred the topic of the indie game bubble: Back in 2014, a rumor began to really pick up steam with many questioning the longevity of indie game development success. Just like any market, indie games aren’t immune to having their bubble popped.
A very interesting and in-depth article, “The Indie Bubble Is Popping” by Jeff Vogel was published almost exactly two years ago. To really understand how the indie game development industry has come to this very important crossroads, it is imperative that you read Vogel’s article in its entirety, as he will provide you credible information and professional insight, all backed with thorough research.
For those of you who choose not to read Vogel’s piece from 2014, here is a great quote that properly summarizes his article:
There is no bubble bursting (yet), but instead it is matter of natural erosion.
Natural erosion and sedimentation is usually something you might recall from your high school science class lessons, but today we are going to use it as an analogy for the present situation of the indie game industry.
The first question you must ask yourself as an indie game developer: “is my game clay or is it silt?”.
So, to be clear on how the two differ, and because you obviously didn’t pay any attention to your boring science teacher: Clay particles are smaller than silt, and when suspended in water, clay is usually the last to settle. Meanwhile Silt is larger, more dense in particle form, and will settle before clay. Now here is an image to make sure you are clear on that geology spiel:
Now here is where we make this analogy work. Ever since the indie game industry began we have started to see an exponential growth in terms of indie game creation. This rate of game development has created a bubble, but beyond what some may believe, this bubble just isn’t quite ready to burst. It is our belief at RenGen Marketing is that we are seeing a very unique situation where there is an erosion and sedimentation process.
In order for your game to be successful in terms of sales, your game, in this analogy, needs to be the clay during sedimentation. Even though your indie game may take longer to develop, once it does launch, it lasts.
The problem we are seeing today with a vast majority of indie games, is that they are just not putting much thought into discovering their game’s true identity, and whether there is actually a market for it. In other words the vast majority of indie games being created are considered silt, and they will erode away from the indie game market, leaving just the top 10-20% of games that have done their due-diligence.
No one said it better than Daniel West when he wrote, “It’s no longer enough to make a good game. Good games are plentiful, and the rate at which they come out is constantly accelerating. Consumers are absolutely spoiled for choice, good and great games abounding. Good marketing isn’t enough either -”.
If a good game isn’t good enough, but a great game is, and good marketing isn’t good enough either, then the simple equation for indie game success is a great game plus great marketing.
Great Indie Game Marketing Starts With A Great Devil’s Advocate
You might think your indie game is the next hot thing, but for us in the marketing world, we consider that “blind bias”. If you have an indie game that has recently launched, or is currently in development and your community is churning up comments that speak negatively about certain facets of your game, you owe it to them to at least respond, or even go as far as to listen to them and act on it.
One of the first things we do at RenGen Marketing when taking on a new project with an indie developer or studio is we tell them upfront that we plan to be transparent with them, and at times, that includes us playing devil’s advocate. We will pick out pressing issues that others are mentioning in regards to your game. We will bring to the forefront very important and hard to answer questions you may have been avoiding. Playing devil’s advocate requires research, and our job isn’t complete until we have you questioning your own game. A great marketing strategy for any indie game requires being honest with yourself, as the developer, and with your community.
This process may very well be the step needed to take your game from a good game to a great game, and protect you from the constant erosion that is happening with most indie games currently–thus making you clay and not silt.
If you find yourself at a crossroads with your game, or you just haven’t had to answer those tough questions about your game’s identity, then it is time to contact us so we can play devil’s advocate with your game. The longer you avoid the tough questions, the higher the chances are your game will quickly settle into that ocean’s worth of indie games, only to quickly erode like so many others.