An Inspiring Challenge

Mike Kasprzak, or PoV from Ludum Dare fame, issued a challenge the other day:

Make a game — take it to market — sell (or license) 1 copy

Many of you have done the first part, but let’s go all the way this time. The simplest definition of a professional game developer is someone that has made money selling games. So lets create-us some new “professionals” and get some games out!

Think of this as a race. Have something new for sale and in a store by the end of October. And if you can sell a copy (or sign a licensing deal), you win.

Creating a game in a weekend is doable, but to polish it up and make it marketable in a little over a month? That’s a bit more daunting. It will take a lot more work, focus, and determination, and in the end, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have any customers.

But the key to the challenge is to realize that you don’t win by being a best-seller or getting to the top of the sales charts. You win by selling one copy.

Just one copy? That’s quite doable. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely possible. While PoV says there are no restrictions, I don’t think it counts if you ask your mother to pay you a few bucks for your game, so to rise up to this challenge, there’s a bit more work left to do even after the game is finished. Setting up payment processing and a website, signing up for an app store of some kind, or joining a contest are just some of the ways to attempt it.

Personally, as a relatively new full-time indie game developer, I know that I’ve been struggling with the fact that I need to make a game that sells. Do I spend six months working on a single game, or do I restrict the scope to make a game in a matter of weeks? What’s the income potential of each? How risky is to base so much of my potential income on a single game versus making a bunch of smaller games with possibly little market appeal? How much time do I have to figure it out before my savings disappear?

It’s a lot of responsibility to make such a high level decision for a business. It impacts everything the business will do. There’s plenty of analysis paralysis potential in that decision.

But selling one copy of a game by the end of next month? It will take some infrastructure and hard work, and I may still “fail” at this challenge, but the effort will still put me way ahead.

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