In 2010 I quit my corporate job to become a indie game designer. Before The Great House Remodel ate my life, I managed to get two games in the Apple iOS App Store.
I haven’t worked on a game full time since I released Zen Fire in 2012. I never did anything to publicize my games. Only my friends ever paid for them, mainly to get some initial good reviews. 🙂 The results 6 years after I released my creations into the wild?
Total Downloads for both games: 6549
Total Gross: $3.50
On one hand, 50 cents/year isn’t enough to live on, even for me. 🙂
On the other, though, over six thousand people chose to download my humble games from a store of *millions* based entirely on either screenshots or, *possibly*, word of mouth. I was never able to find any mention of my most popular game, Roid Rage, anywhere else on the Interwebz.
I stopped coding due to a home remodel that stole two years of my life. It was totally worth it, because I was done with the Standard American Dream and I got almost exactly twice for my house what I paid for it ten years earlier. That cash was enough to change the yurt from a Project into a Home, and my Sprinter from a van into a full-time off-grid urban stealth RV. My cost of living is drastically lower than it’s ever been, I have way more freedom, my life is more meaningful, and I feel less financial pressure than I have since high school. I rarely have to drive in rush hour or sit in a fuzzy cube, haven’t answered to any boss but the market for 7 years, and have zero financial debt. I definitely have no regrets.
However, as aggressively as I’ve managed to reduce expenses over the past years, at some point I need my income to consistently exceed them. Other than the sale of my house, that hasn’t happened since 2010. And as dedicated as I am to minimalism, sustainability, and Changing The System, I still want retirement, Social Security, and Medicare.
The real reason I’m a professional game designer is that I love it. Like most other artists, it’s very difficult to pay all the bills only with art, and maybe not worth the selling out necessary to make that happen. Many of the happiest artists I know do it on the side. I *do* have what it takes to eventually pay all my bills this way, but it would be reckless of me to assume I’ll be able to do it any time soon. I have very little interest in either working at a AAA gaming company or burning my life working 80 hour weeks in the hopes that my startup will get bought by Facebook for millions of dollars. But while the competition is fierce, I’m certain that with my humble needs, I can create compelling experiences for a few small, niche markets. My main focus is bringing people a positive, realistic future worth living they can try on for size. Kind of a game version of a Cory Doctorow or Charles Hughes Smith book.
And, after a Long Break, it’s time to get started!