PoV’s Challenge: Make a game, sell 1 copy

Posted by (twitter: @mikekasprzak)
September 22nd, 2010 5:39 pm

I’m in a weird mood today, so I decided to put forth a challenge to members of our #ludumdare IRC channel. Feel free to join us. The challenge is simple:

Make a game — take it to market — sell 1 copy (or license it, or earn $1 in ad rev)

Many of you have done the first part, but let’s go all the way this time. The simplest definition of a professional game developer is someone that has made money developing games. So lets create-us some new “professionals” and get some games out!

Think of this as a race (or a Nanowrimo for games+business). Have something new for sale and in a store by the end of October. And if you can sell a copy (or sign a licensing deal, or earn $1 in ad revenue), you win.

October ends [fergcorp_cdt_single date=”23:59 October 31, 2010″]
NOTE: Start anytime! The clock is ticking! If you’re blogging here, use the “PC #01” Category. I’ll give it a better name later. Come October, the Challenge takes over Ludumdare.com.

Take a compo game and polish it up, something you’re working on now, or start something new. Bottom line, finally make good on that goal to start selling games. Lets do this!

Discuss in the comments, or hit the jump for some store and market suggestions.

* * *

Open Markets

There’s no restriction where or how you should to sell it, but App Stores are pretty popular streamlined ways to sell games today. There’s often some paperwork that needs to be filled out and mailed before you can sell, so I strongly suggest you do that ASAP.

Apple iOS [iPhone, iPod touch, iPad] (Obj C, C/C++, OpenGL ES) – $99 year fee
Google Android (Java, C/C++, OpenGL ES) – $25 one-time fee
Palm WebOS (C/C++, SDL and OpenGL ES, or HTML 5) – Free (Paypal payout)

Intel AppUp [Windows and MeeGo (Linux) Netbooks] – CONTESTFree (Paypal payout)

Flash and Web
Flash Game License (Licensors Marketplace) – Free (FGL takes a 10% cut)

Xbox Live Indie Games$99 year fee

* * *

Pitch Markets

Some marketplaces require you to pitch and get your game approved before it hits the market. Those are included below.

Big Fish Games

* * *


For completion, a list of general indie game contests with money prizes.

Independent Games Festival – Due October 18th – $99 Fee
Indie Game Challenge ($100k top prize) – Due October 1st – $100 Fee

* * *

Payment Services

Perhaps you’d rather sell direct from your website? Here are some tools for that.

BMT Micro (credit card, cheque, and more)
Plimus (discussion)
Google Checkout

If you have anything to add, post them in the comments.

83 Responses to “PoV’s Challenge: Make a game, sell 1 copy”

  1. laremere says:

    I’m in for this.

  2. Uhfgood says:

    I think I’m going for it.

  3. wazoo says:

    I’m in like Flynn baby.

  4. PoV says:

    If anyone is up for writing a quick start legal or business guide, I’m sure many would find it useful.

    Most App Stores let you operate as an individual. Myself, I operate my company (Sykhronics Entertainment) as a Sole Proprietorship, a Canadian business type that means I am an individual (like a contractor) that operates under a business name. I think most countries have an equivalent. When I sign up for a dev program, I sign up as an individual. Most have some way of giving a nod to a company/brand/label name. It’s not the best legal protection wise (LLC), but as a company just me, an LLC wouldn’t 100% isolate me from the actions of my business anyways. Rule of thumb: don’t steal artwork and assets from people, and avoid super shady stuff, and you’re probably fine (I AM NOT A LAWER). I pay something like $100 every 5 years to keep by business license registered. I do taxes like normal people (but have somebody familiar with small businesses do them for me). I do this full time, so I write off dev tools, technical books and video game purchases. 😀

    • ExciteMike says:

      I’ve always been bothered/embarrassed that I don’t actually know how to find out what kind of license/registration is actually required for selling games online (if any?), or what the tax and record-keeping implications are.

      My searching seems to keep getting me places trying to sell me books or pay for advice, but surely this kind of information is available somewhere?

  5. 31eee384 says:

    I want to do it, but I’m way too busy. I am trying to make one of my old mini ludum dare games fun in single-player though; when that’s done I’m planning on trying to get it licensed.

    Already got a lot of an AI competitor coded. Don’t know if it’ll help a whole lot though. The real way my game is fun is with multiple people at the keyboard, and unfortunately not many people have that luxury. I was thinking about making it online… but I don’t have a server to host with (which would need to support every match made–Flash doesn’t let people host).

    I’m registered as an Apple developer as well, but I haven’t had any ideas that a single developer could achieve. I suppose I have had one, but it’s an idea that’s too simple to have not been done before–I just don’t know what search terms on the google would turn up the duplicate(s).

    I’m going to go ahead and blame the fact that I’m preparing to apply for colleges for my inability to work on anything. 😛

    • 31eee384 says:

      Hmm. Just had an idea that might make my simple idea more fun. And after thinking about it for a while, why should I care if it’s been done before? There are plenty of clones being sold, and my idea wouldn’t be a clone by coincidence.

      So, I still might not have time, but I’m trying for this iPhone game.

  6. matrin says:

    alltough i have worked on games that were sold over iPhone app store, I have yet to create one such game myself. Challange excepted. 😀

  7. localcoder says:

    Count me in!

  8. MrPhil says:

    Great idea! I’ll take a stab at it.

  9. Morre says:

    I’m in Japan for most of october, but it’s a great idea and just the motivation I’ve been looking for to wrap up a certain game. I’m definitely in if I can.

  10. KungPhoo says:

    I always wanted to remake some sort of “Bop It” for iPhone and this seems the right time to do it.

  11. istayalive says:

    I am in. Have some stuff hanging around for some time. It looks like this is the right time to make it happen.

  12. pnvgames says:

    That’s funny because this is the exact deadline I”d given myself — sell a single copy OF ANYTHING by end of October or delete all my code, burn every piece of dev equipment and book I own and go commit suicide in retail. Not looking for attention or pity — just want to poop or get off the pot.

    As Notch makes a billion dollars a minute I’m going to end my fruitless indie hobby if I can’t make a dollar by the end of next month. So I don’t win so much as not losing — but it’s all perspective I suppose. I think I can make an ok game but I can’t market my way out of a wet paper bag. This comp screams “publish any damn thing already” to me.

    Winners never quit…and quitters never win….but…I’ve got one more month to prove I’m not an idiot. Going to use this contest to drive this ultimatum if that’s ok.

    • PoV says:

      I can appreciate the self imposed “do or die” deadline, but I wouldn’t go as far as self destruction. The “I WILL DO THIS OMFG” attitude is often what it takes to actually do it, the consequence is being ordinary. To me that’s the greater shame; Being comfortable and content with where you are today. To not demand more of yourself.

  13. wazoo says:

    @pnvgames I’m in the same boat myself. Been “squatting” for WAAYY too long.

    I’m avoiding app stores because it’s an unknown for me on this first “real” project. I’ve heard stories of approval within 2 days, while others take 3 weeks. Far too random for me, and it means having the game done by mid-October. I’ve got no problem polishing up a mobile release once this one is done, however.

    As Short Round said “No time for love Dr. Jones!”

  14. ido says:

    If you are just planing on selling *something* (rather than expect to sell a significant amount), the easiest way is to just get a paypal account and put a web game with a paypal button on your homepage.

  15. Sparky says:

    I’m in as well!
    I’ve been trying to finish up a few Flash projects and get something sponsored, so the timing is great for me as well. Nice, timing, PoV, it sounds like a lot of us are in the same boat.

    @pvngames- That sounds a bit harsh- I love the fact that you want to be successful, but why destroy all your resources? If I were in your shoes I’d separate the business side of it from the creative side of it, and plan to continue to make games no matter how the business side of things goes. That’s my two cents anyway- just trying to be encouraging.

    Best wishes to everyone.

  16. I love this idea. Definitely IN. Wooo hoooo!

    @pvngames – I fully know how you feel, but don’t give up! You CAN do it. It might take moer than a month but whatever you do don’t burn your stuff and throw in the towel if it doesn’t go your way. Believe in yourself (as corny as it sounds) and enjoy what you’re doing and you are already a success.

  17. KodeSource says:

    I love the spirit of this challenge, but I was planning on releasing (whenever that was going to be!) my game as a free game in Apple’s AppStore. I like the fact that now I have a firm deadline to motivate me.

    Could the entries include free games, supported with in-game advertising (iAd), and say a minimum download quantity (say 10, 50, 100)? iAds pay a penny per impression, so technically I would be making money.

    But, there is no overall ‘winner’ for the challenge right? Just EVERYBODY who actually sells a game?

    • PoV says:

      Free to play is definitely on my mind too; I’ve updated the post to mention this. The goal this time is to not only make a game, but make business, and that’s a pretty big biz model these days.

  18. PoV says:

    Discussion on Y Combinator.


    A very positive one at that. 😀

  19. Codexus says:

    I keep telling myself that I should really finish something and sell it even if it’s just one copy. But I keep alternating between thinking about giant projects that I barely start and doing nothing. Anything below the quality of a AAA title and I think nobody could possibly want to buy it.

    So I’ll attempt this challenge! (now the hard part is going to be staying away from Minecrack long enough to do that ;p)

  20. karnakgames says:

    I’m in! Already wrote the collision system. It is an iOS game.

  21. zigs says:

    hah, sure!
    I don’t have anything better to do anyway 😀

  22. riccolasanti says:

    My partner is doing Nano Cant you do this in November as well?
    Great Idea though

  23. wazoo says:


    I’ve broadcasted it across LinkedIn, my local IGDA chapter and my social network..

    buzz, buzz, buzz! :)

    Good luck to everyone!

  24. soggie says:

    I’m IN! I failed my 7 days roguelike challenge, so this might be a good way to redeem my broken pride!

  25. sosuke says:

    I’m ready! Time to get back to work on my game or I’ll never make it through the approval process.

  26. Bytejacker says:

    This is great – anyone who finishes a game and gets it up for sale: email me at anthony@bytejacker.com and we’ll publicize it, either through the blog or on the show.

  27. recursor says:

    I’m definitely in!

  28. Parthon says:

    I’m so in for this.

    Two Q’s – does it have to be a comp game? and does it have to be finished-finished or can it just be playable but still working on?

    I’m so up for earning that first $ so I can prove to myself that I can make a living out of it and finally get off my arse and do what I love doing for a living.

    • PoV says:

      The game can come from anywhere. The point: we want you to be selling (submitting) something, or entering negotiation (FGL) by the end of the month. To make this a reality, you need to keep the scope of your game small, and perhaps get some paperwork or tax forms for a Store in the mail ASAP.

  29. Sayajin says:

    I “shily” begin a game on iOS4 for iPhone ! That it’s a good challenge to get that done 😉 With the delay approval it’s a question of a couple of weeks ! LET’S GO !

  30. blackbird04217 says:

    I’m personalizing this challenge for myself; with some constraints. I see this as being more realistic, and also a good way to motivate me to get where I eventually want to be; developing my own games for myself.

    My Personal Challenge: Sell or license a game or product by the end of 2010.

    Unfortunately I don’t have an awesome countdown thing as seen above, but January 1st, 2011 is right around the corner.

    • PoV says:

      The thing about setting an October deadline is you may push yourself harder now to meet it. Setting a January deadline, you push yourself harder in December.

      • blackbird04217 says:

        The problem with an October deadline, (I agree smaller time scale is a more motivating/harder push), is the fact that I “work” weekdays and only have ~4 ish hours of programming time, if that, and most weekends are filled as well. So while a push is needed I want something realistic as well.

        October 31st; Single level of gameplay complete. (Alpha)
        November 30th; Make more levels/gameplay for complete game.
        December 15th; Polish, Test and Fix Bugs (Beta)
        December 21st; Release Gold Master

        This should keep the pressure on. Of course the following outlines my plan of a game; by definition of my goal a useful library or tool could be used.

  31. Epidemi says:

    I think I am in too :)

  32. Wiering says:

    I’ve already sold many copies of my games, but I recently bought a smartphone with Android and I’ve just started experimenting with it (so far only Hello World and some little OpenGL tests). So I’m joining this contest to make a game that runs on mobile phones.

  33. mattivc says:

    Think i will give this a go.

  34. Sos says:

    Oh man, I’m so going to do this!

  35. darxval says:

    I am in for doing this as well! I saw it and started it at the 38 day mark. but finally registered here. Good luck to everyone else on here as well!!

  36. hunaddict says:

    This challenge inspired me to take my awful AS3 knowledge to an upper level and create a game.
    I also devoted a simple blog to keep track and (hopefully) get some feedback on my progress.
    Also, if I didn’t share a thing, I’m sure I wouldn’t be able stay focused until the end of October.
    Good luck to all!

  37. tberthel says:

    I have 8 Android games and all have sold >1 copy.

    I will soon release an RTS that will sell >100 copies not that anyone cares.

  38. mwest says:

    I may only have finished 1 game in an LD competition so far, but what the heck – I’m gonna give it a shot!

    If I can figure out how to sell something now, then it’ll be of benefit in all my future projects.

  39. bear says:

    My friends happen to have an apple iOS dev account, that makes it easier for me. Now I better get to work!

  40. Uhfgood says:

    Actually I don’t think I’ll bother. I have too many things to do, than to bother with the challenge.

  41. Uhfgood says:

    Okay I might be back in as I’ve found a project that actually looks doable. Although the results of the game may not look much better than my minimalist (LD11?) entry. In fact the game comes from the same idea really. But with some added variation.

  42. zigojacko says:

    what a fun contest and a great selection of sites and tools to help get everyone started :) will be checking back to see progress/updates of this – heh

  43. Enders says:

    Mission Complete 😛

    Okay we released a game to the Android Market and made our money back ($25 Registration Fee) and a $1.

    Sigmore Mines 2 is what it is called. It is a graphical roguelike game. Have fun. :)

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