How to earn £12,000 in one year from game development?

Posted by
September 13th, 2011 3:59 pm

The Challenge:
I have a 365 day runway (until 9 Sep 2012) to earn £20k (about $32k) from games development.

The earnings value is based on a UK minimum wage calculation of about £6 per hour 9-5 job, and factoring in that I will have to pay money to make them, buying in music ect, and overheads for payment providers?

Me, Unity, PC, Mac, iPod, Android.

Currently I manage to produce game ‘Prototypes’ like these

Art, 3D Animation, Procrastination, Funds, Motivation, Experience, Marketing

If I have not hit or exceeded this target by the deadline and proved I can make a living from games I have to dust off my CV and get a job!

So what advice would you give or better still how do you do it?

10 Responses to “How to earn £12,000 in one year from game development?”

  1. Felipe Budinich says:

    I’m on a similar quest now, so I’m gonna tell you about what I’m planning to do, and it’s based on the extrapolations from the info I’ve got avaliable, the cost of living in my country is way lower than yours, some of it is counter to what digital_sorceress just said, and there is a big chance that I’m gonna be soooo wrong on the long run, so take it with a grain of salt:

    1.- Go niche, as niche as you can on a genre you enjoy, but try to cover as many platforms as you possibly can (I’m gonna target PC, Mac and Linux, as it seems possible on a one man team).

    2.- Leave room for expansion, if you make a “hit” (defining hit as someting that sold 10K units for a 1 man team), leave room for a part two. Keep your code as reusable, just don’t go OCD about it. Do no try to make a general purpose engine, try to make a “This game” engine, a codebase that allows you to make sequels.

    3.- Marketing: Try to get as much bang for your buck as you can. Sure google ads seem cheap, but how effective they are? this goes back to the niche strategy, learn were your potential players lurk, advertise there, do not try to spam the whole wide web, leave that to EA.

    4.- Release early, release often. Learn how to fail quick, and learn from your failure. As soon as you’ve got something playable get some beta testers, again, search within your niche audience, but keep in mind “make something for everyone, and you’ve got something for no one”

    5.- Use competitions as deadlines, it’s SOOO easy to get sidetracked, or get into an infinite polishing/refactoring loop.

  2. PoV says:

    Cool. Next month, I’ll be challenging everyone to earn $1. Might be a good place to start. 😀

  3. notche says:

    My advice is “Don’t do it!”

    Everybody and their brother wants to make games for a living. There are 50K games sitting on Kongregate absolutely free to play making pennies from ads. You will make a lot more money standing on your local street corner with a sign begging for beer money.

    People see Notch and the Angry Birds guy and just see huge dollar signs. These guys are like the guys that accidentally hit the lottery. You are more likely to be the guy who spends months (or years) making an awesome game that goes unnoticed and you don’t even get back your return on investment.

    My advice is find a profession that will make you a ton of money. If you want to stay in software development, that’s fine. Find a niche that is a cash cow – not games. Build software for companies that are rolling in dough and will to pay. If you find the right niche, you can charge 20K for software that will take about as long to develop as that game you are dreaming of.

    Once you make a fortune (or at least get on the road to it), then do whatever you want: make games on your macbook air, drink beer at 10AM, go fishing on your yacht down at the keys. In fact, do all three at the same time. That’s what I do 😉

    Of course this is tough to hear and it will probably be dismissed. So be it. You have to do what you have to do.

    • Felipe Budinich says:

      I say: go gently caress yourself.

      Your “advice” is the same advice I got when people said I couldn’t film a horror movie in Chile. Guess what?
      I did it:

      Yes, I did not get rich, but I did it, try to take that away from me, you can’t. Now I’ll make a game while I laugh my ass off at suits telling me I can’t, and you know what? most of people here can do it too.

      Leave fear behind, worse thing that can happen is that you go broke.

      • notche says:

        I think we are on the same side. It all comes down to fulfilling the creative urge. There is no amount of money worth that experience for me. I am no suit. I just think there are better ways to do it then by being a starving artist. I suggest finding a good gig, building a profitable money machine that doesn’t take up all your time. Then go crazy. Build that game you’ve always dreamed of. Buy that red epic and go film the story of your life. All the options are still available to you. But also you can make your mortgage payment as well.

        • Felipe Budinich says:

          Sorry for that, I overreacted.

          But I think that:

          A.- Yes, you can do this stuff as a hobby (it’s a damn fine and fun hobby) and pay for stuff with money from elsewhere.

          B.- No, It’s no the question he asked. He wants to know how can he turn his hobby into a business.

  4. Codexus says:

    I wish I knew, then I’d do it (well except I’d need 2-3 times more money just to pay the bills due to Switzerland being so much more expensive than the rest of the world v___v)

    I also wish I could tell you to just make your game while working full-time, but I know this doesn’t work very well. I guess some people with exceptional stamina and focus might be able to pull it off but unless you’re going for 8-bit minimalism, that might not even be enough.

    So I’m starting to get really negative here, but if you can spend one year trying now without getting into too much trouble, you should try. There is a small chance that you’ll “pull a notch” and make a successful game. The odds may be 1 in 100 or worse, but that’s still way better than playing the lottery. So good luck!

  5. Gornova says:

    Good luck!
    My limited experience in game development as hobby tell me one thing: I must eat and live, so a main job, at least part-time job is required.

    I like the niche-strategy, see for example spiderweb software or

    Better example is Soldak: interesting gameplay, average 3d graphics, incredible support and community, blogging everything 😀

  6. ratking says:

    Why not? Start a cool project (i.e. innovative and noteworthy*), and after two or three months, if you have enough to show the gameplay and some of the artstyle, put it on kickstarter or 8bitfunding, to get funding for some more months.

    * Of course your project will be innovative and noteworthy, other there would be no reason to start it, eh?

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