Sunday, July 4, 2021

Why pay for indie games??

 (cross-posted from itch.io)

As we near the end of production on Our Personal Space 2: Space to Grow, we've been talking less about game design and more about user experience, audience, and distribution. One subject that has come up is whether we want to charge money for this game. Our Personal Space was free, mostly because it was our first game and we weren't sure we could actually do it or how good it was. I also felt (and still feel!) that I want people to be able to experience the games I make regardless of financial situation. However, I also want to support game creators financially - I would love for talented designers, artists, and programmers to be able to make a living doing what they love. I also hate ads in games - they take the player out of the experience and feel tacky and, honestly, no one likes them.

Game creators making a living doing what they love will never happen unless it becomes normal to pay creators for their work! When our default response is "I'm not paying money for a GAME", it implies that making games is not worthwhile, and we don't really want people to make games. I feel that games are worthwhile, especially those that give me a chance to hear stories I wouldn't normally hear, or help me practice being a better human, or encourage me to pause after playing it and feel understood or like I understand others in the real world better.

If you've ever made a game, you know that it is a LOT of work! Making a prototype that works is usually not that hard; making a real game that is fun and polished and complete takes much more time. On this game our team kept timecards; we've spent over 1000 hours on this game and we're still not quite finished yet! That's about six months of full time work, though it's actually been five years since we also have day jobs, kids, volunteer work, etc. I hope that we will be able to make enough money that we can pay our programmer, writers, and artist and invest that money into future games!

However, I recognize that not everyone has the money to pay for games. Since we don't have "libraries" like we do for books, we've decided to have a "pay-what-you-want" option here on itch.io. Steam and Google play don't have that option, so we will charge something on those platforms. I hope this compromise will allow us to continue to make games and pay content creators, while also allowing anyone who wants to to be able to play our game.

If we support game creators and respect the time they've put into game creation, we will end up with better games and a better game community!

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