Do It Now! Indie Game Development in 2020

You Should Definitely Make Your Game If You’ve Been Waiting

Patrick Fluke
Sep 27, 2020 · 5 min read
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Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

When you browse Steam in 2020, you will find games of absolutely any genre. You can find absolutely everything there, and indie game studios produce a huge amount of that content. Games like Rimworld and the Untitled Goose Game are wildly popular with players, and more games join their ranks all the time.

Why, then, is there so much focus on how crowded the market is. Why do you hear people say that 2020 is not a great time to start getting into game development. It doesn’t make a lot of sense when you realize that with lockdowns across the globe, people have more and more time to spend in front of their consoles and computers.

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Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

Before delving too far into why you should definitely consider building that amazing game you’ve planned in 2020, we’ll look at some statistics regarding the gaming sector as a whole. According to Statista.com, new games released on Steam peaked in 2018 and began to fall in 2019.

Although the number of new games released dipped in 2019, the number of concurrent players continued to rise. In March 2020, Steam recorded 20.31 million concurrent online players, which is the highest number reported since at least 2012. Now Steam does not represent all of gaming as many people play on consoles or purchase their games through other means, however with a sample size of millions of players, it’s a great microcosm to investigate trends in the gaming industry overall.

In the top ten highest selling games on 2020–09–27 on Steam, you can see two big indie games right at the top. Among Us came in at number one, followed in the number four spot by No Man’s Sky. This shows that there is undoubtedly a market if you are willing to put in the effort to develop a fantastic game and then put in the time to spread the word about it.

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Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

When you run across an indie game that has become wildly successful, you’re probably going to notice something right away. It wasn’t their first game. Often it wasn’t even in their first five games. SuperGiant is a small growing studio that has released four games on Steam since 2011. Today, SuperGiant has a game, Hades, in the number three spot on the top sellers.

Game development is fickle and certainly won’t cut you any slack. If you put in the time to perfect your craft, you can undoubtedly build a financially successful game in 2020. However, if you’re looking to make a quick buck, it’s probably best to look elsewhere. Without a great deal of luck and goodwill from your users sharing their experiences on social media, a mediocre game cannot expect much success.

You may find you have to make five, ten, or even fifteen games before you’ve built up enough of a following that you start to make a fair amount of money. That’s okay. That’s expected. That is the path that you should be following. With each new game, you will further enhance skills that improve them.

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Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Because it’s hard. Because it’s so hard to be successful in indie game development, those who are successful are generally VERY successful. It’s almost human nature that we don’t want to give our money to big companies like EA or Microsoft when any man or woman can make an arguably better game with a laptop and a few spare months.

Games from the small developers come out as the underdogs, and when they win, the world screams about their success. The publicity eventually turns into a self-propagating machine as people boast about how inventive your game is, and how it has completely turned the industry on its head. That is the secret of indie game development. You can try whatever you want, and then see if it makes a splash.

The big game companies will have a difficult time competing with you. You can do whatever you want, while they are limited to going along with their shareholders and bosses. You can try completely new control ideas, invent your genre, or even make a program that no longer passes entirely as a game — think point and click or story games — and still expect to reach an audience who understands your vision.

Established publishers, however, are responsible for creating sequel after sequel of the same established universes. You see the new Madden games, the latest Call of Duty or Battlefield games every year. While they claim that they have created something new and innovative, after a few minutes, the paint wears away and what you’re left with is another clone of what was — a few special tricks, nothing more.

You, on the other hand, you’re free. You can build whatever you can imagine. Don’t be discouraged if you only build a small following at first, or even no following at all. Each game will become more complex and exciting with each passing project. Before long, you’ll catch some attention, and you’ll get your moment.

Persevere, and never stop creating.

If you enjoyed this article, follow Patrick Fluke here on Medium for more articles about Gaming, Programming, Technology, Writing, and Science.

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