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Get Rich Playing Games

Get Rich Playing Games

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Published by oakstar
Guide to making money with video games
Guide to making money with video games

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Published by: oakstar on Dec 08, 2007
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12/02/2012

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Fun fact: Most so-called gaming experts don’t know the first thing about the busi-
ness beyond what they see on their PC or high-def TVscreens.

So, after critiquing countless titles for more than 300 media outlets and counseling
dozens of publishers on how to improve their products, I decided to do what any
sensible entrepreneur would: Put my money where my mouse is.

Two years, hundreds of sleepless nights and one hair-brained scheme later, the
impossible became reality: My independently produced, developed and conceived
PC boxing sim, Heavyweight Thunder, arrived on store shelves circa 2005. And,
with the help of several lifelong friends, I managed to build software production
company Overload Entertainment into a thriving venture.

Here’s how you can found tomorrow’s Atari out of your home office, too.

DON’T PLAY AROUND

Dream big, but think small, and never let your reach exceed your grasp.
Everyone’s got a great idea for a game, but sensible ones are much rarer. Start by
creating a concept document defining every detail of your ultimate fantasy project.
Then begin chopping inessential features. Save grand ideas for sequels. After all,
three guys in a basement tinkering on hand-me-down PCs can only accomplish so
much.

KEEP IT SIMPLE,SILLY

Gaming isn’t just for geeks anymore. Most titles are purchased by everyday people
shopping at mass merchants who can’t tell a peashooter from a plasma launcher.
Increase your chances of success by creating a product that speaks to their inter-
ests. Choose concepts audiences will instantly recognize and relate to. (Football,
poker and racing are in; extraterrestrial Nazi-hunting psychic vampires, out.) Art-

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school projects are amusing, but they don’t sell.

HANDLE YOUR BUSINESS

Talk about an expensive hobby: Games cost roughly $5,000 to $30,000,000
(around $15-20 million on average for next-gen consoles, infinitely less on PC) to
produce, so budget accordingly up-front. Spend no more than six figures initially.
Licensing will also run you extra in terms of percentage-based royalties.
Registering trademarks takes an additional $10,000 or so, too. That said, always
keep some “play money” in reserve; hidden expenses (voice-acting, language
translation, etc.) are common as well.

CASH AND CARRY

Why risk your savings when you can gamble with someone else’s? Venture capi-
tal’s an excellent source of funding... if you can produce a game prototype and
sample packaging. Seeing is believing, so always approach investors with some-
thing tangible; it makes a lasting impression. Can’t find a backer? Do what the
best of us must at times: Beg friends and family members for seed money.

ORDER OUT

Forget developing the next Oblivion in your home office. Games typically take
half a dozen or more people to produce. Unless you’re keen on paying health ben-
efits, hiring programmers/artists/musicians, and otherwise overseeing a bunch of
professional slackers, hire an external development team. Sites like Gamasutra
(www.gamasutra.com) can connect you with independent contractors all over the
world. Hint: Search for firms sporting proven experience making the type of the
title you’ve envisioned.

GET WITH THE PROGRAM

If you’re lucky, partners will have the resources on hand to handle all the grunt
work, including constructing characters and environments. If not, you’ll need tools
like Adobe’s Photoshop (available from www.adobe.com) or Alias’s Maya
(www.alias.com) to help participate in the process of building virtual worlds.
Ready-made software engines like GarageGames’Torque Game Builder and

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GET RICH PLAYING GAMES

Engine – selling for only $100-$150 at www.garagegames.com – also offer an
easy way to cut corners.

ENCOURAGE COMMUNITY SERVICE

Many joystick jocks are self-righteous loudmouths. And even more are simply out-
spoken and passionate about their hobby. Either way, they’re a blessing in dis-
guise. Why? You won’t find a more vocal bunch on the Internet – or a better way
to get word out about your game online. Employ newsgroups, user forums, web-
sites, press releases, screenshots, demos and video trailers to spread the message.
Enthusiastic as gamers are, they’ll also willingly test and provide feedback on soft-
ware prior to release, just for the privilege of a hands-on sneak peek.

AIM FOR A HIGH SCORE

If you’ve made enough noise about a title, international distributors will already be
calling. But when it comes to selling your game, overseas firms, especially those
located in countries where the American court system can’t touch them, can be
unpredictable. It’s rare you’ll ever see royalties. Instead, negotiate a healthy, guar-
anteed advance from publishing partners. Don’t pawn off all rights to your game
onto a single company either; you can negotiate sales licenses for each individual
country separately.

GET STARTED EARLY

So much for retiring to a life of Gran Turismo... there’s still work to be done.
Software errors need patching, features updating and fans reassurance that there
are better things to come. Strike while the iron is hot; begin work on add-ons or
follow-ups ASAP, so you remain hungry and motivated. As fast as the interactive
entertainment industry moves, there’s no time to waste. The game, as they say, is
always afoot!

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