9 Nov 2011

Indie Advice: Sell Out

Be one of these
If your first game is a huge success, makes oodles of money, and came in exactly on budget, you can skip reading this one.

Very few people in life get to do what they want for a living, and only what they want. Most end up doing something they're mostly interested in, in an environment they find bearable. Indie games developers would hopefully be doing something they love, but might not be able to pay the bills.

If you're working on a game then the chances are that you have skills that could be used for freelance contract work. If you have a studio full of people, then I'm sure some of them will have some downtime, or between projects you might need a financial top-up.

Use these assets to secure some contract work in a less exciting industry. I'm a web developer originally, and in order to pay the bills during my full-time indie days I did some contract web work. If you can get ad-hoc paid work, then you can use this as a fallback when you need to, or to ease yourself from a nice healthy salary to a typical indie pittance.

Even if you're good at nothing except making games then you might want to consider making some less creatively-satisfying software under a different name. Perhaps using a different brand you can do some advergames or shovelware to help pay the bills.

Doing something dirty to further a creatively pure project is a compromise that is worth making. Don't be afraid to be realistic and make concessions in order to enable your ideal career.

Some call it selling out; grown-ups call it exploiting in-house skills to create additional revenue streams.