Risk Assessment: Don't Put All Your Games In One Market

In the rapidly evolving landscape of game development, the allure of platforms like the iPhone App Store has captivated many independent developers. Among these, Owen Goss's journey with his game Dapple is a poignant case study on the perils of placing all one's eggs in a single market basket. After investing $32,000 into developing Dapple, a color-matching game, Owen's return was far less than anticipated. His candid sharing of this experience has garnered significant attention for its honesty and sparked a broader discussion on the financial realities of app sales.

Owen's intention was never to lament his predicament but to shed light on the harsh realities many developers face in the market. Despite the initial setbacks, his commitment to Dapple's success remains unwavering. This scenario brings to the forefront the crucial strategy of diversifying game distribution across multiple platforms. The volatility of a single market, such as the iPhone App Store, suggests that expanding into casual portals, Facebook, and the Flash market could mitigate risk and potentially enhance revenue streams.

Take, for example, Push Button Labs' strategy for their game Grunts: Skirmish. By leveraging activity in the Flash market, they aim to drive sales across other platforms, demonstrating the tangible benefits of diversification. This approach spreads risk and increases the chances of recognition and revenue from various sources.

A diversity of strategies and perspectives characterizes the indie game development scene. Some developers, like Jeremy Alessi, focus solely on a single platform, believing in its potential to maximize their success. This freedom to chart one's course is a hallmark of indie development, allowing for a wide range of approaches, from focusing on one platform to embracing multiple ones.

Push Button Engine is an open-source Flash-based tool designed to facilitate multi-platform game development. It underscores the growing recognition within the developer community of the need to diversify platforms as a prudent approach towards indie success. Spreading risk across multiple platforms mitigates the impact of potential setbacks on a single platform and maximizes exposure and opportunities for revenue.

In conclusion, the experiences of developers like Owen Goss serve as valuable lessons for the indie game development community. While the allure of platforms like the iPhone App Store is undeniable, market volatility and competition realities necessitate a more strategic approach to game distribution. By diversifying across multiple platforms, developers can safeguard against the market's uncertainties and unlock new avenues for success. As we navigate the complexities of game development, embracing flexibility and adaptability in distribution strategies will be vital to thriving in this dynamic industry.

First published March 13, 2009 and last updated at February 17, 2024