The indie bubble is popping

I know that few, if any of you are game developers, but this article by Jeff Vogel is an excellent read, and tackles some issues that many small software companies have to deal with, even outside the game development community.


Good read, thank you.

Made me wonder (once again) how all those little companies in mobile space make their money? Isn’t it the same kind of bubble too?

It is hard to fault his analysis.

It has always been the case that ‘sexy’ domains are over supplied and difficult to make a living in. Games are about as sexy as programming gets.

The author says in the comments:
“It has been observed that people should treat developing games like working in any creative industry (low pay, unpredictable career, etc) and plan accordingly.”

In games and some other areas it seems there are now more developers than good ideas, so any good idea is copied to death, usually crowding out the original.

Writing games is a great hobby for developers, but I suspect there are more lottery winners than indies making their living from writing games.

I think Andrey and Ian talked about this in one of the podcasts- how one guy bought games on the cheap, replaced the graphics, and made ten different games from them, which he then flipped. He then sold the whole thing for $200,000 or something like that.

So how do you make money? By turning sleazy, of couse :smile:

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Wow! Love his whole thesis & point of view. I am not a gamer, so never been attracted to that industry.

Funny story: when I had employees, one guy I had hired to do artist work would show up looking like he had spent the night partying with Keith Richard. I thought he was on drugs or something, so I confronted him & he admitted that every day after work, he would go work for this game company (Ubisoft I think) for free, because it was his dream. He told me they had 20-30 kids doing free work for them that way. wOOt!

Game industry workers are indeed just like Hollywood where countless people do free intern work, just to get a “break”. Glad I stayed in CAD & biomechanics… :slight_smile:

I don’t understand this whole ‘intern’ thing that seems to have made its way across the Atlantic to the UK. Why should a poor student/graduate work for a big rich bank FOR FREE!? It seems like total exploitation to me. Isn’t the minimum wage legislation supposed to avoid this sort of exploitation of the vulnerable by businesses?


Until you acquire a minimum amount of knowledge, you work slowly, make many mistakes and ask questions around, thus disturbing the professionals.

The value you bring to the company can be minuscule, or even negative if someone needs to constantly direct you.

For these situations, paying for having you around is just counterproductive.
What you get, in exchange for “working” for free, is knowledge. You learn how things are done.

If you make those practices illegal, then you just destroyed opportunities for apprenticeship. Most of the useful knowledge isn’t learnt in school, but rather by doing and by being close to other professionals.

@Andy and @Frozenlock ,

Many intern programs are illegal and not run according to the law here in the US. It varies from state to state, but under the Fair Labor Standards Act a person is an intern if:

  1. The training/internship the person receives is similar to that which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The training is for the benefit of the trainees/interns;
  3. The trainees/interns do not displace regular employees but work under their close supervision;
  4. The employer that provides the training does not derive any immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees/interns, and on occasion its operations may be impeded;
  5. The trainees/interns are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period;
  6. The employer and the trainees/interns understand that the trainees/interns are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.

If yes to all six, then the worker = intern. Otherwise, the worker is = employee and must be paid and treated as such. Of course, government agencies and nonprofits are an exception.

I found it all fairly complicated. I got this information from a transactional lawyer’s presentation in one of my classes.

“[…] but really it’s just another time where people are making videogames and
most fail to make substantial amounts of money but some do.”

This post makes the point that there have been a number of ‘golden ages’ for videogame developers, and the people who benefited from one of the previous ones might not be the best people to appreciate the current one. I think it makes a good counterpoint to some of the concerns raised in the original post.