Making Hobbyist Gamedev Pay
With all the stories about full time game developers either thriving or struggling to survive, you could be forgiven for thinking the time of the hobbyist game developer is over. However this is far from the truth, as the mass of engines available to use and platforms to release to means that now is just as good a time to get involved no matter how little time you have on your hands, and you might even make a little money on the way! This article hopes to serve as a miniature guide for getting your creations out there, and perhaps making a few extra bucks a month while you’re at it!
The first questions to answer of course are what to make, how to make it, and how to sell it. Hopefully you already know the answers to the first two, and no matter what you create there’s a place out there for you where you can sell, whether you want to make games, templates for games, music, sound effects, or artwork. Engine makers usually have their own stores that you can sell templates or games on, such as Scirra’s Construct exclusive store, but there are also many other ways to sell, such as on multiplatform stores like itch.io. Itch.io also allows you the option to accept optional donations for your work as opposed to simply selling them, giving you another option if you’d rather not make people pay for your creations.
Of course with different stores come different methods of listing items, receiving feedback, the cut they take from your sales, and how payment is sent and how long a delay is in between the sale and you being able to get your money, amongst other things. Make sure you know intricately the details for each store, and choose as many as you can that fit your needs. Spend a little time with each item making it look good on the store page, using detailed descriptions and attractive screenshots. Placing your items on multiple stores may be time consuming, but it certainly increases your visibility, and with that, possibility of more sales.
Of course, simply listing an item is not enough to make it sell. Many stores have checks that need to be done before they will even list your game, and then you will have to spend plenty of time advertising to get people interested. Social media is your best friend, but also, if you aren’t already, take the time to become part of a community. Make tutorials, assist users with their issues, introduce yourself and be active in as many communities as you can in as many ways as you can. Reddit for example has communities across many game development engines and also some much wider ranging game development communities. Join meetups, take part in game jams with a team, support and promote other indie devs work and you’ll often find being part of a community is its own reward!
One other thing that you should be very watchful over is tax. This of course varies depending on the country you are in, how much you make and how you declare it, but in this case always do your research first, to avoid getting a nasty letter in your post.
The last piece of advice I can offer is to remember one thing : You’re doing this as a hobby that earns a little extra money. Not a job. Maybe at some point in the future you might want to make it a job, but for now, make sure you go with what makes you happy. If you’re not enjoying it while you’re doing it, it becomes less of a hobby and more of a chore, and the quality of your work will suffer. Like many gamers say, GL HF : Good luck and have fun!