Are you an independent game developer with an excellent idea for a game but need to know how to get it out there? In this article you will show you how to self publish an indie game from start to finish. Or just looking to learn on how do you publish a game, this article is for you.
Self-publishing your game can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right approach, you can get your game in players’ hands and on the charts. This blog post will walk you through the 12 steps to self-publish your indie game from start to finish: from generating ideas and testing them to preparing for a soft launch and launch, getting more people to play, legal considerations, localization, Quality assurance, Establishing a pricing strategy and support and maintenance.
With these steps in mind, you’ll have a clear idea on how to sell your indie game and be ready to take the next step in your journey as a game developer. So, let’s get started on how to publish your own game.
indie publishing vs indie self publishing
Indie publishing and indie self-publishing are similar terms that refer to publishing a game or other creative work independently rather than through a traditional publishing house or studio. Both terms generally refer to taking on the responsibilities of developing, distributing, and promoting the game on your own instead of working with a big publisher.
In the case of indie publishing, it often refers to smaller studios or independent developers producing games with a lower budget and fewer resources than big studios. Indie publishers typically focus on creating unique and innovative game experiences, often with a smaller team and more creative freedom.
On the other hand, self-publishing refers to taking on the responsibilities of developing, distributing, and promoting a game entirely on your own, without the involvement of any publisher. This can include small indie studios, solo developers, and hobbyists. Self-publishing allows the developer or studio to retain full control over the game, its distribution, and the costs and risks.
Both indie publishing and self-publishing have pros and cons, and the best approach will depend on the individual developer’s goals and resources.
In summary, indie publishing usually refers to a small independent studio producing games on a lower budget and smaller team. In contrast, self-publishing refers to taking on the full responsibility of the game development, distribution, and promotion by oneself, without any third-party publisher’s involvement.
The benefits of self publishing an indie game
Self-publishing an indie game has several benefits:
- Creative control: Self-publishing gives developers full control over the development, distribution, and promotion of their game, allowing them to bring their unique vision to life without the need to conform to the expectations of a publisher.
- Faster development and release: Without going through a publisher, developers can move faster through the development and release process, allowing them to get their game to market sooner.
- Increased revenue potential: By self-publishing, developers can keep a more significant percentage of the game’s revenue, as they won’t have to share it with a publisher. This could lead to higher profits for the developer.
- Direct relationship with players: Self-publishing allows developers to establish a direct relationship with their players, which can be valuable for getting feedback and improving the game.
- Flexibility in monetization: When self-publishing, developers have more control over how they monetize their game, whether through a one-time purchase, free-to-play with in-app purchases, or other models.
- Greater exposure: With the increasing number of distribution platforms available for self-publishing, it’s become easier for indie developers to get their games in front of a global audience and reach more players.
- Learning and Growth Opportunities: By handling all aspects of the development process, self-publishing allows developers to learn and grow in multiple areas, including project management, marketing, customer service, and other important aspects of the gaming industry.
In summary, self-publishing an indie game can provide aspiring game developers with greater creative control, faster development and release, increased revenue potential, a direct relationship with players, more flexibility in monetization, greater exposure, and valuable learning and growth opportunities.
THE DANGERS OF SELF PUBLISHING A GAME
Self-publishing a game can be a great way for indie developers to take control of their game’s development, distribution, and promotion, but it also comes with its own set of potential dangers. Some of the principal risks of self-publishing a game include the following:
- Financial Risk: Developing a game is costly, and self-publishing can increase the financial risk for the developer. Without a publisher’s backing, the developer must bear the full costs of development and promotion and may not recoup their expenses if the game is unsuccessful.
- Limited distribution channels: With a big publisher’s resources and distribution networks, it can be easier for self-publishing developers to get their game in front of a broad audience.
- Quality control: With a publisher’s backing, more oversight of the game’s development and quality may lead to issues with the final product.
- Difficulty standing out: With the large number of games being released every day, it’s challenging for any individual game to stand out in the market, making it harder for self-published games to get noticed and generate revenue.
- Difficulty in handling feedback and complaints: Self-publishers will have to take customer service and deal with player complaints and feedback without the support of a publisher.
- Legal considerations: Without the backing of a publisher, self-publishers will have to handle all legal considerations, such as contracts, trademarks, copyrights, and other legal matters, by themselves.
- Difficulty in maintaining and supporting the game: Self-publishers will have to handle all aspects of supporting and maintaining the game, including bug fixes and updates, which can be difficult and time-consuming.
While self-publishing a game can give developers more control over the development process, it also comes with potential dangers. Developers must be prepared to take on the financial risk of game development and promotion, navigate the challenges of limited distribution channels, and stand out in a crowded market. They must also ensure that the game is of high quality and have a plan for handling feedback and complaints, legal considerations, and ongoing maintenance and support. Indie developers must weigh the potential risks and benefits of self-publishing a game before deciding. It’s also good to have the plan to mitigate these risks and a solid understanding of the market and the resources you have at hand.
how many indie games are successful?
It is difficult to provide specific statistics on the percentage of successful indie games, as success can be defined in different ways, such as sales figures, positive reviews, or player engagement. However, a small percentage of indie games achieve significant commercial success. The indie game development industry is highly competitive, and with the large number of games being released every day, it’s challenging for any individual game to stand out.
According to a study by the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) in 2017, only about 20% of indie developers earn a living wage from their games, with the majority relying on additional sources of income. Another report from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) in 2020 stated that while independent game developers accounted for more than 50% of the game developers in the US, they generated less than 20% of the game industry revenue.
Additionally, it’s important to note that many indie games find success through platforms like Steam, making it easier for indie developers to distribute their games to a global audience. However, the market is ever-changing, and new opportunities arise as technology and the market evolve.
While it is difficult to provide specific statistics on the percentage of successful indie games, a small percentage of indie games achieve significant commercial success. According to some studies and reports, most indie developers don’t earn a living wage from their games, and independent game developers generate less than 20% of the revenue of the games industry. However, many indie games find success through platforms like Steam, which have made it easier for indie developers to distribute their games to a global audience, as the industry is constantly evolving, providing new opportunities for independent developers.
how to self publish an indie game
Step 1: Speed up your stage of thinking of ideas
Everything starts with a thought. You likely already knew this, but it’s more challenging than it might seem to come up with new ideas for your game. It can take a lot of time to develop a good idea, and usually, it takes about a hundred prototypes to find a good idea that can be sold. So, that’s 100 new ideas; on average, a prototype for each one takes about two weeks to make. Finding one good idea can take a lot of time and money. But don’t worry; there are some ways to speed up this process.
Find out about market trends: To stay ahead of the game and ensure your idea is relevant and in demand, you’ll want to keep an eye on current market trends. Tools like market intelligence can help you spot trends and give you a place to start with your ideas.
Mix popular elements from the same genre or different genres: Instead of trying to copy the best games on the market, mix and match their mechanics and types. This will give your game a new twist and make it stand out. Plus, it’s a fun exercise to see what unique ideas you can come up with by blending different elements together.
Remember to keep clarity, satisfaction, and fun in mind: Even though this seems obvious, it’s surprising how easy it is to forget about it. You might get so caught up in the numbers and research that you forget to ask yourself, “Why would I want to play this game?” Keep this question in mind as you come up with ideas; it will help you eliminate bad ideas and expand on good ones.
We’ve made a store for this idea. To speed up the idea generation process, some companies, like ourselves, have built a concept store, which is a place where studios can find hundreds of tested ideas to start with. It can be a great starting point but feel free to get creative and come up with unique ideas.
Speeding up your stage of thinking of ideas is an essential step that could take a long time and money, but with some simple techniques and with the help of some tools and resources, you will be able to come up with a great idea that is relevant, fun, and stand out of the crowd.
Step 2: Make sure your testing stage works well
Once you’ve come up with an idea for your game, the next step is to test it out to see if it’s fun and has potential. This is where the testing stage comes in. It’s essential to make sure your testing process works well to ensure that your game is on the right track before continuing with development.
Test every one of your ideas: Make sure you test every idea you have for your game. This will give you a better understanding of what works and doesn’t.
Test how fun it could be to play: The most important thing is that your game is fun, so test how fun it could be.
Test in a controlled environment: To get the most accurate results, you should test your game in a controlled environment. This could be a test server or a small group of testers.
Keep working on good ideas until you get the results you want: Once you’ve identified a good idea, keep working on it until you get the results you want. Be prepared to adapt and make changes as needed, depending on the results you receive from your testing.
Remember to keep an eye on industry standards: As you work on your game, keep an eye on industry standards and trends. Make sure your game is up to par with current benchmarks and can meet the expectations of players.
The testing stage is an important step to make sure your game is fun and has potential: by testing in a controlled environment, keeping an eye on industry standards, and working on good ideas until you get the results you want, you can be sure that your game is on the right track before continuing with development.
Step 3: Prepare your ideas for a soft launch
Once your game has passed the initial testing stage, it’s time to prepare it for a soft launch. A soft launch is a limited release of your game, typically in select regions, before the full launch. This allows you to gather valuable feedback and make necessary changes before releasing the game worldwide.
Keep up with trends and get ideas: As you prepare for a soft launch, it’s important to keep up with current trends and get ideas from what’s popular in the market. This will help you ensure that your game is relevant and in demand. Utilize tools like creative insights to help you stay on top of trends.
Check out different network specs: Each network has different needs, so it’s important to know the specifications of the networks you’ll be launching your game on. This will help ensure your game runs smoothly and looks great on each platform.
Try again and again: Soft launch is a process of iteration. Feel free to try different colors, environments, user interfaces, banners, filters, and more. Experiment and see what works best.
Get people involved: A soft launch is an excellent opportunity to get early adopters and build a community of players around your game. Use interactive ads and incentivize players to invite friends to join the game. This will increase engagement and buzz for the game.
Preparing your game for a soft launch is an important step in the process of self-publishing. By keeping up with trends, checking out different network specs, trying repeatedly, and getting people involved, you can ensure that your game is well-received and has a successful launch.
Step 4: Know how you’re doing
After your soft launch, it’s important to keep track of how your game is doing. This will allow you to make necessary changes and improvements before the full launch.
Key Metrics: Look at key metrics such as retention, playtime, IMPU, ARPU, and LTV as much as possible. Make sure you understand what these metrics are for your genre and how they can change from one sub-genre to another.
Levels: Analyze your levels, figure out your churn rate, and ensure your level structure is the best. This will help you identify areas of your game that need improvement.
Analyzing Metrics: Keep an eye on your game’s performance and adjust as needed. Utilize tools like analytics to track your progress and identify any issues or areas that need improvement.
Step 5: Addressing player’s feedback
It’s important to consider what players are saying about your game. Listen to feedback and consider how to make changes and updates to improve the player experience. This could include fixing bugs, addressing balance issues, adding new content, and more. By listening to your players and addressing their concerns, you can ensure that your game is as enjoyable and successful as possible.
By understanding how your game is doing and addressing players’ feedback, you can make adjustments and improvements in your game before the full launch and make sure that you are reaching your goals and providing an enjoyable experience for the players.
In addition to making improvements and adjustments to the game, you can also gather feedback from your players by conducting surveys, holding focus groups, or using in-game analytics tools. This can help you understand your players’ preferences and interests, so you can cater to their needs and offer new features they will enjoy. And keep in mind not all feedback will be positive, but always be open to criticism. It is going to help you make a better game.
Also, consider creating a community around your game where players can give feedback, share ideas and connect. This can help you build a loyal fanbase and gain valuable insights on improving your game.
In conclusion, Addressing player’s feedback is an ongoing process that will help you understand your players, improve their experience, and keep your game relevant and in demand, by gathering feedback, conducting surveys, holding focus groups, and creating a community, you will be able to cater to your players needs, and continuously improve your game.
Step 6: Marketing your game or how to promote an indie game
Learning on how to promote an indie game is a key aspect for the potential success of your game. For this, knowing on how to market your game is an essential step in the process of self-publishing. The marketing goal is to create awareness and interest in your game so that potential players know it exists and is motivated to download and play it.
Create a marketing plan: Before you begin marketing your game, it’s important to create a plan that outlines your goals, target audience, and the strategies you’ll use to reach them. This will help you stay organized and ensure you spend your time and resources effectively.
Use social media: Social media is a powerful tool for marketing your game. Use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share updates, screenshots, and videos of your game. Additionally, consider running paid social media ads to reach a larger audience.
Partner with influencers: Partnering with gaming influencers can be a great way to reach a new audience and gain credibility for your game. Influencers have a built-in following and can help you generate buzz around your game.
Create a website: Having a dedicated website for your game can be a great way to showcase your game and provide information to potential players. Your website should include the following:
- A trailer.
- Information about the match and its features.
- A way for people to download and purchase the game.
Marketing your game is important step to promote your game, to create awareness and interest and generate buzz around it. By creating a marketing plan, using social media, partnering with influencers, and creating a website, you can reach your target audience, increase the visibility of your game, and ultimately increase the number of downloads and players.
Step 7: Get more people to play.
Now it’s time to start and grow.
During this phase, you can either speed up, slow down, or change direction. When accelerating, you’re trying to get as many people to install your game as possible.
It will always cost more but will bring in the most money. Try to get as high as you can on the charts, as this will increase the number of organic installs. When your profit margin looks good, it’s time to slow down and ensure your return on investment is fair. It is a lot like how you did your soft launch.
It’s important to remember that things will slow down on their own over time. The rules of hyper-casual games change very quickly, and players quit all the time. So remember that.
Make your game as good as it can be so that players can get the most out of it. You should pay attention to six things: First, try to keep more of your customers. You want people to keep coming back. Make sure to change up your ads and creatives, so players don’t get tired of them.
Take care of each network’s budget. Make your game fit the culture of each country you want to sell it in. Look at what your competitors are doing to see what you should do.
Hold meetings to come up with new ways to market your business. If you need help getting more players to your game and assure its possibilities of being discovered.
Step 8: Legal considerations
When self-publishing an indie game, you must consider all necessary legal considerations before launching the game, because it involves making sure that you’ve taken care of any legal considerations that may affect your game before it’s launched.
- Securing licenses and permissions: Depending on the content of your game, you may need to secure licenses and permissions for certain assets, such as music, images, and videos. For example, if you’re using a pre-existing music track in your game, you’ll need to obtain a license from the copyright holder. Failure to do so could result in legal action being taken against you.
- Protecting intellectual property: It’s essential to protect your game’s intellectual property, such as the game’s name, artwork, and source code. This can be done by filing for trademarks and copyrights and using a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with collaborators.
- Compliance with laws and regulations: Some laws and regulations apply to video games, such as those related to age-appropriate content, privacy, and online safety. It’s vital to ensure that your game complies with all relevant laws and regulations to avoid any legal issues. Depending on where you’re publishing your game, these laws and regulations can vary widely, and it is important to consult with a legal professional.
Legal considerations are crucial for ensuring that your game is legally compliant and protected against potential legal issues. It’s important to research the laws and regulations that apply to your game and consult a legal professional to ensure you’re taking all the necessary steps to protect yourself and your game.
Step 9: Localization
Localization is the process of adapting a game to a specific region or language, and it’s an important step to take if you want to reach a global audience with your indie game.
- Translating the game: Translating the game’s text and dialog is the most apparent aspect of localization. It’s important to note that while using machine translation may save some cost, hiring a professional translator will ensure that the translated game maintains the meaning and tone of the original text and will help avoid miscommunications or negative feedback.
- Cultural considerations: Besides translating the game, you’ll also need to consider cultural differences. This includes adapting the game’s artwork, character designs, and overall aesthetic to suit the cultural norms of different regions. It also means considering how the game’s themes, story, and gameplay mechanics might be received in other cultures and making any necessary adjustments.
- Legal considerations: Game localization also encompasses compliance with laws, regulations, and rating systems that vary between countries, for example, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) in the US and the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) in Europe.
- Time and costs: Localization can be a significant undertaking, and it comes with a price, both in terms of time and money. Planning and budgeting for localization early in the development process can help ensure that you have the resources you need to make your game accessible to a global audience.
It’s important to remember that localization is more than just translating; it’s about adapting the game to different cultures, languages, and regulations. The more planning and research you do beforehand, the smoother the process will be.
Step 10: Quality Assurance (QA)
Quality assurance (QA) is an essential step in the process of self-publishing an indie game. It’s the process of testing the game to ensure that it is stable, functional, and free of bugs before it is released to the public.
- Identifying and fixing bugs: The QA team’s primary responsibility is to test the game thoroughly and identify any bugs or issues that need to be fixed. This includes testing the game on different hardware and software configurations and testing the game’s functionality and performance in various scenarios.
- Game stability: The QA team will also test the game’s stability, looking for any issues that could cause the game to crash or freeze. This is especially important for online games, as stability issues can negatively affect the player experience.
- User experience: The QA team also test the game’s user interface, checking that it is intuitive and easy to navigate and providing feedback. And in the case of multiplayer games, the QA team will also test the game’s matchmaking, lobby, and other online features to make sure they are working as expected.
- Hiring a team or outsourcing: You can hire an in-house QA team or outsource this task to a specialized company. In-house teams have the advantage of being more in tune with the development team. At the same time, outsourcing can offer more resources, expertise, and cost benefits, especially when working with a company specializing in QA and localization.
It is important to keep in mind that QA is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. With this said, the importance of testing the game before the release to identify and fix the issues before the players encounter them is crucial for your game’s success and good reputation.
Step 11: Establishing a pricing strategy
Establishing a pricing strategy for your indie game is an important step in self-publishing, as it will affect how you monetize your game and generate revenue. There are several different ways to monetize a game, and the best approach for you will depend on your game’s target audience, the type of game you’ve created, and the overall market conditions.
- Selling the game outright: One approach is to sell the game outright at a one-time cost. This can be a flat fee or include various tiers of pricing based on the game’s features. This approach is suitable for games that have a high value and can offer a complete experience.
- Free-to-play with in-app purchases: Another approach is to offer the game as a free-to-play title, with in-app purchases as the primary monetization strategy. This means that players can download and play the game for free but will have the option to purchase in-game items or currency to enhance their experience. This approach can be suitable for games with high replayability and/or games built to have a long tail of engagement.
- Free-to-play with in-game ads: An alternative to in-app purchases is to monetize the game through in-game ads. This means displaying ads within the game and giving players the option to watch an ad in exchange for in-game currency or items. This approach can be suitable for games with lower replayability and a target audience comfortable with seeing ads while playing.
- Subscriptions: Additionally, consider offering a subscription-based model, where players pay a recurring fee to access premium content, features, or services within the game.
It’s important to note that pricing strategy should be based on the game’s value and the target audience’s willingness to pay and should also consider the costs of development, marketing, and distribution. Additionally, it is also essential to track the performance of the pricing strategy and be open to adapting it in case of not working.
Step 12: Support and maintenance
Support and maintenance are critical components of self-publishing an indie game. They ensure that the game remains functional, enjoyable, and relevant for players after its initial release.
- Ongoing support: Providing ongoing support means being available to address bugs and other technical issues that may arise after the game’s launch. This can include fixing bugs, improving performance, and releasing updates and patches to improve the overall gameplay experience. It can also mean providing customer service through email, social media, or forums.
- Updates and new content: Players expect new content and updates, so it’s important to plan and prioritize these efforts to continue to provide value to players. This can include new levels, characters, weapons, game modes, etc., depending on the game’s genre, mechanics, and audience. It is also a great way to continue engaging with the players and keep them interested in the game.
- Player complaints and concerns: Dealing with player complaints and concerns is an important aspect of support and maintenance. It’s essential to have a plan in place for how to handle these situations, including a straightforward process for receiving, tracking, and addressing player feedback. This can include creating a system for dealing with customer service requests and having a dedicated team or individuals to handle these issues.
- Monitoring and Metrics: Monitoring the performance of the game, player engagement, and revenue are crucial for understanding how the game is performing and what areas need improvement. It’s also important to monitor for any negative trends, such as a decrease in player engagement, to identify issues early and take action to address them.
It’s important to note that Support and Maintenance are a long-term commitments. It can make or break the success of a game, and the better the support and maintenance, the more players will be likely to stick around and tell others about the game.
With these steps in mind, you will have a clear idea of the whole process to self-publish your indie game. Keep in mind that this is a continuous process that you should adapt to the changes of the market and the feedback of the players. Remember that some steps may require more effort than others, and that’s normal. Remember to enjoy the process and good luck!
HOW TO SELF PUBLISH YOUR GAME YOUTUBE VIDEO
How to self-publish your indiegame Conclusion
Self-publishing an indie videogame can be a challenging and rewarding experience, but it’s important to be prepared and plan ahead. From developing the game concept and assembling a team to marketing and distributing the finished product, there are many steps to take and decisions to make along the way.
Key steps include:
- Developing a game concept and prototype.
- Assembling a team.
- Creating a development plan.
- Setting a budget and schedule.
- Creating a marketing plan and building a community.
- Establishing a pricing strategy.
- Providing ongoing support and maintenance.
Each step is crucial to the game’s success, and it’s essential to give each step the attention it deserves.
One of the most important steps is ensuring that all legal and regulations matters are taken care of before launching the game; this includes securing any necessary licenses, protecting the game’s intellectual property, and compliance with laws and regulations related to video games. Also, localization is a crucial step to making your game accessible to a global audience, and it’s not just about translating; it’s about adapting the game to different cultures, languages, and regulations.
Another vital step is conducting thorough Quality Assurance (QA) testing to ensure the game is stable, functional, and has no bugs. This step can be done in-house or by outsourcing to a specialized company.
Support and maintenance are also critical components of self-publishing an indie game; it’s not just about getting the game out the door but keeping it alive and well-maintained. This means preparing to provide ongoing support and updates and address player complaints and concerns.
In conclusion, self-publishing an indie game can be complex and challenging. Still, with the right preparation and planning, it is possible to successfully navigate the process and bring your game to a global audience. We hope this article has been helpful and welcome comments and feedback.
For more information on self-publishing an indie game, please visit our blog for more articles and resources on this topic.