July 4 this year is Indiependence Day: Paying full price to support indie developers.
Quite aside from the cute but confusing imagery above, of the Last Supper with very much non-indie video game characters (I might’ve gone for a space invader trashing the Pyramids or something) Indiependence Day is a very noble cause.
As their website proclaims:
Indie game development has always been a tough business. The average indie developer makes less than $12,000 per year.
There are more games coming out than ever before, and games only seem to sell when they’re on sale. Players have been conditioned, through bundles and mega-sales, not to pay full price. None of this is a surprise. And although money isn’t the primary motivating factor for a lot of us, if the dynamics of the industry don’t change, indie games will become an unsustainable model. Indie games have been such a source of creativity and originality over the last 10 years, and we want to keep them going!
To bring some awareness of this to players, a group of indies have decided to come together on July 4 (Indiependence Day) and NOT put our games on sale. We encourage fans of indie games to support their favorite developers by buying their games at full price. If you bought a game on sale and wound up really loving it, perhaps buy a copy at full price and gift it to a friend. Or pick up that game that’s been on your wishlist for a long time. (Steam’s new refund policy makes that a lot less risky!) Whatever your platform of choice, we’d love your support.
Amen to that.
The race to the bottom, while fantastic for consumers and largely a drop in the ocean for big publishers, has been knocking the life out of indie developers. Sure, your Square Enix and Ubisofts can afford to drop their games by 75-85% during the silly season (read: Steam summer sales) but then, their games probably started at £49.99 anyway.
If you’ve got a AAA title that you’ve not yet played coming in at £4.99 or £7.99 and a full-price indie title at the same price, or indeed higher? It’s going to take a monumental force of will to plump for the indie game, and we see this time and time again.
Indie developers end up discounting their titles to ridiculous, pocket money levels, in order to generate sales. “That’s OK,” the consumer says, “Because once a game is on Steam or <insert app store here> then the dev just sits back and watches the money roll in.”
It’s a common misconception that Indiependence Day are trying to correct. And sure, those rare few games that do become massive can make their developers a lot of money, but the chances of having that scale of a hit are exceedingly remote at best and up until that point, the developers have probably earned the sum total of sod all. Operating costs, publishers fees, advertising, travel and expo expenses… they’re often lucky if they’re making anything at all. I honestly $12,000 dollars was high as an average of every single indie developer.
So, spare a thought for the indie developers on Indiependence Day – July 4, to coincide with the similarly-named public holiday in the US – and buy their games at full price. If it’s a game you already know and love, why not buy it as a gift for someone else?
The world of indie development is exciting and varied. Let’s keep it that way, by supporting Indiependence Day and keeping the people who make it great – the indie developers – in business.