Louisiana Technology Park

Blog

Tech Park Blog

SHOULD YOUR NEXT VENTURE BE AN INDIE GAME? READ THIS FIRST

video_game_man_coins.jpg

Looking for a new project? Many entrepreneurs are hitting it big in the digital gaming boom.  

But indie game development isn’t guaranteed money by any means. Here’s a list of great reasons to get into indie game development, followed by a list of drawbacks to carefully consider before taking the plunge.

7 Reasons You Should Make an Indie Game

Reason #1: Digital media tax credits are a huge advantage (where available).

State programs like Louisiana’s Digital Interactive Media and Software Development Incentive provide big benefits to studios especially game developers. If you don't reside in Louisiana, check with your state economic development agency to see if there are any incentive programs that might apply to you.

Some benefits of the Louisiana program include:

  • Sizeable credits for payroll and production expenses (18-25%)
  • No cap and no minimum requirement
  • The tax credit is available for a refund of 100% of its value claimed on your Louisiana state tax return

Reason #2: Digital gaming market is booming.

The worldwide digital-games market is up to $5.5 billion in 2015, demonstrating a 7% year-over-year growth, according to market intelligence firm SuperData Research.

Although most of this growth was on consoles, indie gaming has taken off, as well. Of the 25 titles on Metacritics top Games iPhone/iPad games of 2014 list, 13 are indie games.

Reason #3: Video game sub-markets are hot, as well.

Gaming isn’t the only activity that gamers participate in. For instance, the global eSports market is worth $748 million and will reach $1.9 billion by 2018, according to market media and games research firm Superdata.

This means that new opportunities are being created all the time, and also goes to show that the world is getting more and more into gaming.

Reason #4: Kickstarter can be very kind to indie gamers.

Winning a Kickstarter is very possible, even for newcomers. In fact, as of 2013, more than $100 million has been awarded to games projects on Kickstarter.

At the same time, however, getting funding is no cakewalk. It takes a lot of PR and marketing when you’re asking for money. So follow indie gaming best practices, or outsource the work if you’re short on time.

Reason #5: Barriers to entry are low.

Gone are the days where it took large teams to produce even the simplest of console games. Development platforms like Unity enable developers to set up one-person shops for as little as $75 per month.

Further, engines like Unity lower the skill requirements for game production. So you won’t necessarily need a highly experienced programmer, and may even be able to do some of the technical work your self.

Reason #6: Generous grants are available for educational games.

The government has seen the writing on the wall: games are the future. And they’re putting their money where their mouths are in the form of SBIR grants.

These grants for educational technology are competitive, and according to our sources, only about 5% of applications are funded. Further, there’s a whole mess of criteria to meet.

But for the perfect idea, an SBIR grant is a fantastic deal.

Reason #7: Game development talent is easier to find than ever before.

It used to be that you could only find video game talent in major tech cities. But now, even markets with small or growing tech sectors are housing game talent.

The best way to find and recruit game developers is to contact a local chapter of the International Game Developer’s Association. Game developers and artists also tend to congregate around schools and universities. In our experience, it’s always best to assemble a local team with a proven ability to work together, rather than to contract with strangers.  

4 Reasons You Should NOT Make an Indie Game

Reality check time. Now that you’ve seen some of the reasons why entrepreneurs are flocking to indie game development, here are some reasons to stay away from this market:  

• If you have no access to local talent.

Often times, you will need access to artists, developers, and writers to create your game. While outsourcing these tasks may be cheaper, it won’t let you take advantage of local tax incentive programs, and remote working leaves you open additional risk and hassle.

• If you’ve got no skin in the game.

If you treat your business like a hobby, there’s a good chance you’ll fail spectacularly. Being leisurely about game development is an easy trap to fall into, especially when you’ve got investor money lining your pockets. But know this: you don’t want to disappoint people that believed in and supported you. 

• If you think game development is anything like gaming.

The difference being, one is fun, the other is hard (but rewarding) work. Game development can be tedious, frustrating, anti-climactic, and unfair. For example, random happenings like the Steam Winter Fail  were disastrous to companies planning their big release on that holiday weekend.

• If you have thin skin.

Gamers can be vicious, unfair critics. While many gamers are great, some are experts at getting under the skin of others with vitriol and hate-filled speech. You’ll have to be ready for criticism at points where you need encouragement the most.

Conclusion

So should you make a game? The answer: yes, if you’ve got plenty of drive and realistic expectations. Game development is an especially good idea in markets where tax credits are available and where there is sufficient local talent.

So before beginning your project, see what local support is available to you. You might get lucky and discover that local development agencies have an interest in exactly what you’re doing.  

Do you live near Baton Rouge, Louisiana and are interested in starting a gaming project? Tell us about your idea at info {at} latechpark.com.

Stephen Loy