" If all I wanted was money I'd be writing banking software."
- Indie developer Colin Northway reminds us that releasing games can be rewarding in ways that don't necessarily make numbers in a bank account go up.
Indie developers Colin Northway (Incredipede
) and Rich Edwards (Pineapple Smash Crew
) released their psychedelic Venusian jellyfish simulator Deep Under the Sky
in late August with a unique promotional scheme: instead of paying $10 for the game, fans can choose to submit a piece of original artwork that prominently features the game's title in exchange for a Steam key.
The game's been operating under this Art To Play
business model for roughly six weeks, and Northway recently spoke with a number of media outlets about how it's been good for the development team's morale -- even as the game itself hasn't sold as well as they'd like.
"The Art to Play stuff is so creatively validating," Northway told Kotaku
in an email. " It feels amazing to get this stuff. It makes my life so much better."
Northway explained that he first came up with the idea as a means of satisfying requests for free copies of the game from people who couldn't otherwise afford it, while (hopefully) avoiding the pitfall of giving his game away to Steam key scammers.
"Some people actually beg keys off of developers and then resell them. Art to Play is a good way to separate the two of them," wrote Northway.
He's not alone; a developer on Worlds of Magic
recently published a blog post
about the threat posed by scammers who pose as YouTubers to get free keys that all game makers should read.
All artwork submitted through Art To Play must be original, include the game's title and show evidence of at least 30 minutes' worth of effort. You can find read more about why Northway set that specific time requirement and how he half-seriously considered cloning his own game to boost sales in the full article over on Kotaku