As discussed at the beginning of this book, there are a lot of games out there. Too many for any one human to play in an average lifetime. A lot of them are very similar to each other and there are new projects being started every minute. What investors are looking for is a â€œdifferentiatorâ€ - something different or special about a game, developer or brand.
In business terms, this is often referred to as a â€œUSPâ€. Why will people choose to buy this particular game? Whatâ€™s fresh about it? Without that hook, investors are likely to pass on the opportunity.
However, there are rays of hope. Once in a while, a lone hobbyist makes something exciting that catches playersâ€™ imaginations and takes off. An excellent example is mobile chart-topper Flappy Bird, proving that a solo programmer can still create a hit game.
Just remember that itâ€™s incredibly rare and Flappy Bird, despite its brief popularity, still didnâ€™t make the developer enough money to retire on â€“ although he can certainly relax while he works on his next project.
Of course, the prime example of indie success is Minecraft.
Itâ€™s so popular that I shouldnâ€™t need to quote any figures but if you didnâ€™t know already, Minecraft has sold over 35 million copies. At the end of the day, an inventive idea that players love can succeed.
Building games for fun doesnâ€™t require money, just time and enthusiasm. If youâ€™re planning to make games for a living though, money is very much required. Either youâ€™ll be working for a studio and theyâ€™ll have the financial commitments, or youâ€™ll be an independent and itâ€™s up to you to find the backing. You need to live somewhere and eat, while youâ€™re working away on your hit game.
Be realistic. No developer makes one game and then retires on the profitâ€¦ but some people have used their success wisely and gone on to do bigger things. Honestly, most of us make games for the same reason that people play them, just because we love doing it. Money isnâ€™t a goal, itâ€™s just a way of making more ambitious games!
However, for those situations where money really is needed, there are some funding options available to indies and small studios.
Once youâ€™ve learned a bit about making games and have a few projects under your belt, youâ€™ll have some skills, maybe a small team and probably some online contacts. If you feel ready to do some serious development, there is a source of investment open to anyone. Itâ€™s called â€œcrowdfundingâ€.
At Kickstarter and other similar sites, the public invest in, or sponsor, worthwhile projects and they often receive special rewards for doing so. This has worked for a lot of exciting projects, where fans generate enough money to fund ambitious projects, sometimes raising millions of dollars.
Virtual reality headset Oculus started life on Kickstarter. It gathered more than nine thousand backers who pledged over 2 million dollars (Â£1.2 million) between them â€“ obliterating the $250,000 (Â£153,000) goal.
Recently Facebook paid 2 billion dollars (Â£1.2 billion) for the company.
In essence, your game stands just as much chance as anybody elseâ€™s project. However, there are lots of people asking for funding, so your campaign needs to be powerful to stand out. The public, like any other investors, will need really strong reasons to contribute their money.
You owe it to your game to invest serious amounts of time and energy into creating the right Kickstarter campaign and motivating every contact you have to share the news. For every success story, there are way more failures.
The biggest successes on Kickstarter already have a well-known project or existing support, or offer something fresh and exciting, like an affordable VR headset. Many Kickstarters have large online communities behind them. To stand a chance of competing against them, youâ€™ll need to bring your A-game and appeal to the crowd.
â€œMost important, have the courageÂ to follow your heart and intuition."
- Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple.
Be modest too. Donâ€™t ask for millions when youâ€™re still fresh out of the gate. Keep things lean, aim to fund a small beta version of the game. Be completely transparent and honest with your campaign and involve sponsors early in the process. Model your strategy on other successful campaigns but donâ€™t copy them or lose your identity.
Finally, donâ€™t expect to succeed but remember that it can be done. Just be grateful if you do get funding and make something amazing!