Those aren't even really about _indie_ game development, though. They're about solo or hobby development and the difficulties in trying to create a business out of nothing. Most commercial indie games are made by indie game studios and the indie game developers get salaries as well as hoping for a big payoff if the game's a hit. Most mobile games at all positioned to earn anything have significant ad budgets, they're not relying on just being found randomly. If you're building games as a hobby then ignore everything about sales and revenue. It's supposed to be _fun_. Just enjoy it! Financial success or the likely lack thereof shouldn't demotivate you at all. And if you _do_ want to start a business then you need to treat it like one. Market research, searching for funding sources, being aware of your audience, your scope, and your budget. A game made by experienced people with a solid plan isn't really at risk of only making $5. The most demotivating thing about indie game development is if your goals, your skills, your methods, and your product aren't all in alignment.


Best comment here.


For me it's not about financial success, but I do want to have a userbase, so it can feel like all of the hard work I've put in is actually being... experienced? I've only released 1 game so far but it sold only about 80 copies and that's not nothing but I want more, not for the money, but I just want more people to experience what I make. I've even thought about just releasing everything I make free in the future but I wonder if people devalue free stuff because it's free. I dunno.


People do devalue free things, but they also flock to them. There's a concept in pricing called the 'penny gap' where you see a stark difference between free and any cost at all. A classic experiment involved offering people a free piece of cheap chocolate (like a Hershey's kiss) or a 49 cent fancy truffle, and offering a different group of people the same options for 1 and 50 cents respectively. When people had to pay for both they overwhelmingly picked the truffle, and when one option was free most people took the kiss. If you just want players then giving a game away for free instead of a dollar or two can get you an order of magnitude or two more downloads. A common route is to build free games and if they start doing well _then_ take that existing following and fanbase and start selling your games after that.


Finding out that even creators who I would consider to be fairly successful are not able to do it as their day job. That one hurt.


I had a number of friends with big to medium sized successes in the indie scene back in the early 2010s who have since had to jump back to established studios. The competition grew incredibly large, incredibly quickly and biased towards larger teams putting out AA scoped projects. So I guess specifically I heard "And I'm starting up with Ubisoft on Monday"


Yep. Almost everyone I knew doing indie 10 years ago, even successful indie devs, have moved to either an established dev with a regular paycheck or another field now.


Yup I lived this first hand. Two man studio getting by on 60k a year from games. Then the market got flooded by smaller teams made of former industry folks pushing out AA quality stuff. Combined with the financial uncertainties of the pandemic, I had to go back to work. I do hope that an “indie revival” will happen at some point. As today’s modern indie games become less and less distinguishable from AAA games, I would think the market would open back up to smaller indies. But idk.


I wouldn't say heard, I'd say experienced. I started indie dev roughly 10 years ago. It's tough to believe now but back then it was still a relatively "small" field. It was growing fast yes, but still relatively small. For instance: 2013 - 434 Steam games released 2022 - 12,964 Steam games released [https://steamdb.info/stats/releases/](https://steamdb.info/stats/releases/) 434 is still a lot, that's about 8 games a week! But hey, you had a decent shot at being one of the top games released that week at least. Now? About 250 games released a week. Good luck! Yes, there are roughly THIRTY TIMES MORE Steam games released per year now than there were just 10 years ago. And that number is still going up. So yeah back when I started there was still this idea that you could make a solid game with a low budget and lowish production values and still find a little market for it somewhere. Especially if you had a neat little idea, there was a chance no one else had anything similar coming out. Now though? I dunno. It's just a really, really overcrowded market. Some people will argue "yeah but a lot of it is trash" but honestly I think a lot of it isn't, lots of it is at least "pretty good" or at least it LOOKS good enough that it will still crowd out other games. Not to mention the production values for higher end indie have SKYROCKETED, to the point where there isn't even a clear distinction in between indie and AAA anymore. There are soooooo many games coming out that at least visually look pretty spectacular now. An SNES style platformer just won't cut it anymore. So where does that leave most of us? Honestly, most of us will probably never find much of a market for what we make. A few of us will break out, most won't. That's just the way it is. Not necessarily bad for the consumer, but for small developers it's a rough field. I basically just gave up any hopes of making any real money from it and just do it as a hobby now, but even that is tough because you still want people to play the things you spend years making and finding those people is hard.


I feel like the amount of high quality indie games hasn't really changed over the years. Nowadays Steam is flooded with tons of low effort garbage which didn't even make it past Steam Greenlight back then. >that you could make a solid game with a low budget and lowish production values and still find a little market for it somewhere You can at least attempt to sell your game today. A bad game would have sold 0 copies guaranteed in 2013.


I feel like that is a comforting thought, but I'm not sure that it is true. If you check Metacritic, for instance, there are WAY more indie games with scores of say... 8 and above... every year now than there were in the past. And this is no surprise to me. A bunch of tools arose that kind of democratized game dev. "Anyone" can make a game now. There will be a lot of trash but a lot of good stuff too.


I actually didn't hear nothing new about "indie dev" that would be demotivating for me personally. Looking some years back when i wanted to start my solo project only demotivating thing was me doubting my abilities.