7 Reasons Why You Should Quit Making Games

There have been a few articles lately blowing the trumpets that the game industry’s sky is falling. It certainly doesn’t help that Flappy Bird and its attack of the clones has been touted as the herald of the apocalypse. There are now voices from some people saying that since it’s impossible to make money, that it’s time to grow up and be an adult, to grab your life jacket and abandon ship because the party is over.

Abandon ship!

Abandon ship!

In the “spirit” of these voices, I am going to join in and give you seven reasons why you should stop making games. But, I’m going to use the example of another industry facing similar challenges and maybe you’ll see why quitting isn’t the answer.

7 Reasons Why You Should Stop Making Music

  1. Don’t learn the piano, guitar, violin, or learn to sing because chances are you’ll never be a star.
  2. People can listen to music almost everywhere, on every device, and even for free on the radio. The airwaves are oversaturated with music. With such an abundance of music, why should you even bother because you will never be heard?
  3. Even if you are heard by a small audience and are lucky enough get one or two articles in local newspapers, the media coverage isn’t enough and most people will never hear about you again. Even with media mentions, what are the chances that people would hear about you?
  4. Music is pirated all the time and with all these musicians pushing prices lower, or even playing music for free on the streets, how can anyone be expected to make money in this market?
  5. Most music is derivative and fairly unoriginal with thousands of remixes and covers. How can anything original truly survive and be protected?
  6. With so many people not making money with their music, there is no reason to try.
  7. Since not everyone can be a rock star or make a living wage on their music, it is irresponsible to encourage people to learn or make music.

Dreamcatcher

I think anyone would see how wrong all these arguments are for discouraging people from learning a musical instrument or from creating new music. But these are the same reasons people are using to give up our passion for making games.

“It’s too hard.” “Not everyone can make a living wage off their passions.” “No one can make any money, abandon ship!”

I, for one, do not believe that our generation is full of entitled brats who expect a trophy for just showing up, but damn if these naysayers don’t sound like it.

Game development is a risky and highly competitive field. Of course it’s going to be difficult!

But is that any reason to abandon your passion? To be clear, let me break down why these reasons are wrong-headed both for the music industry and for independent game development:

  1. The skills for learning a musical instrument are valuable just by themselves. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a professional musician. Musical skills, like any other artistic skill have merits beyond monetary value. Game development is the same. It involves problem solving skills, coding, and a whole array of artistic disciplines coming together as one. How could it not be a valuable by itself?
  2. The very air we breathe is full of music in radio waves, but people still tip the street musician, pay the dance hall, attend the orchestra, patronize the club’s rock bands. People pay for what they connect with and are happy to celebrate. The same goes with games.
  3. Marketing is hard. It is unrealistic to believe that one good review at a local newspaper is enough to generate national hype for your indie rock tour. Why should we have the same expectation from blogs or review sites for our games? Marketing is a lot of footwork and time, no matter which industry we’re in. It is unrealistic for musicians to believe one gig and one article is enough, no matter the size and circulation.
  4. Free games are all over the market. A concrete example is the free Flash games market. Yet people have been making decent money from these games for years. And now some developers are just beginning to spearhead a new market in HTML5 games. Why are some people so certain that people won’t make money from games and yet there are companies willing to pay money up front, even upwards to $200 in advance for each game you make? The data shows that there are people making money from games development. But, like all things you have to be smart about it.
  5. People enjoy remixes and cover songs by different bands who can give their own spin and personality to some of their favorite songs. Do song covers hurt the original? Games are the same way. No two games, will ever come out alike.
  6. Is every musician aiming to be sustained by their music? Some bands are just for fun. Some are hobbyists. Some are professional and self-sustaining, most musicians are not. So long as you had a healthy and responsible expectations, why stop trying?
  7. There is nothing wrong with a healthy dose of realism. But are we going to discourage people, especially the young, to not learn how to code and have fun making games because not everyone is going to be a rock star? Are we going to tell young musicians to not learn to make music simply because they won’t make money?

As indie game developers we should realistically have the same income expectations as musicians. We should expect to put long hours and the insane amount of work and dedication for our passion.

Where's my money?

But where’s my money?

Not all of us are going to be rock stars and build the next Minecraft, Fez or Braid. If we make money and find ourselves where our passions are our only job, then we are counted as the few lucky ones. But the rest of us should be ready to pull double time in our primary jobs just to make it to the next gig. However, we are all going to have a hell of a good time going from jam session to jam session, gig to gig, convention to convention doing what we love.

The last thing we should do is discourage others from pursuing their dreams in the creative arts. Because in the end, what truly matters is that our games, our music, our lives, our passions and our talents are meant to touch someone’s heart and that makes all the difference. That is what truly matters.

Making money is just the bonus level!

Indie Gaming Doom and Gloom

This article on Eurogamer by Christian Donlan is saying that we’re saturating the market with games, particularly on mobile and on digital distributors such as Steam. For every Flappy Bird there are a hundred clones. For every AAA game released on Steam, there are ten games that had no business being greenlit getting greenlit. We are heading for another video game crash.

The Atari version of Pac-Man is unquestionably more responsible for the great crash than E.T. It's also potentially lethal for Cathy thanks to the insane flickering.

The Atari version of Pac-Man is unquestionably more responsible for the great crash than E.T. It’s also potentially lethal for Cathy thanks to the insane flickering.

There certainly is no shortage of games these days. On May 1 and 2, 2014 alone, there were twenty-one indie games released on Steam and seven on Desura. We are living in a sea of virtual bliss. Back in the day, a shortage of games is something that Atari was trying to prevent and they made certain that they had a large library for their consumers. The problem though, was they went for quantity, not quality. With a glut of crapware, such as the infamous E.T., Atari did itself in as bad game after bad game was released. When nothing but shit is coming out, people see the pattern and they stop buying games.

A few things are different in this generation that differ from the era of the video game crash in the 80s, primarily, the internet. With 28 games released in only two days, one could argue that the same problem that plagued Atari is plaguing us again. However, is it such a bad thing? It’s been this way for some time and I don’t see any sign of a crash.

Thanks to the internet, we have ourselves multiple ways to talk to each other about what we’re playing, see what others are playing, and a number of outlets to purchase games from. We can now vote as a community as to which games are great and which games to avoid. Ranking systems which are player-driven in real time rather than making us wait for a monthly gaming magazine to give us review scores. We don’t have to wait for our neighbor down the street to save up the cash to gamble on a game that “sounds” cool. We can pull up a review in seconds, view clips on YouTube, and download a demo of the game.

Flappy Birds might suck, but and it might be getting cloned to death in the most pathetic gold rush in gaming history, but it is NOT going to crash the industry, people.

Flappy Bird might suck, but and it might be getting cloned to death in the most pathetic gold rush in gaming history, but it is NOT going to crash the industry, people.

App markets and digital game markets have been flooded with crap for years now and the industry hasn’t crashed. The best tend to rise through the ranks thanks to curation and a social community that ranks the best. With so many games though, I’d argue that it is possible, even with all of our tools to help good games succeed, that some may be overlooked. It’s harder to stand out with so many other games to compete for gamers’ attention.

Don’t stop trying though. Make a good product and do what you can to get your voice heard. Part of the reason I started game reviews is to help people out be it by pointing their game out, or giving my thoughts on improvements that could be made for their next game.

We are not heading into a crash and anyone who says to is fearmongering. We’re in a great era for indie gaming and in the gaming industry as a whole. Knock that shit off.

Note from Cathy: this is Miko’s first editorial at Indie Gamer Chick. I quite liked it! Be sure to give feedback and encouragement. Make sure you follow her on Twitter too

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