Developer Jake Birkett ran a poll on Twitter over the weekend asking other game devs if their last published game covered its costs (including a nominal salary for themselves), compiling his observations in a blog post.
This insight could be useful for developers, but it's worth noting that the results from the poll should be taken with a grain of salt, since some variables couldn't account for factors like differentiating between hobbyists and full time devs, incorrectly calculating costs, etc.
Despite the possible flaws in the poll, it looked like over a third (38%) of devs broke even or made a profit. "This is actually WAY higher than I was expecting," Birkett admitted.
"Based on various discussions I’ve had with people over the years – I had a figure in mind of maybe 10% making a profit, and then only a much smaller percentage making a significant profit."
He asked a follow-up question after the initial poll ended for devs who voted that their game made a loss or just broke even, wondering what the main reason for that was. Was it poor time management, or did the marketing campaign fail?
"New indie devs might find the results shocking (62% of games making a loss) but I actually found them to be positive because I believe that I can make games that break even or make a profit in the future as I’ve done it many times before," Birkett noted in his post.
Be sure to check out Birkett's blog here, which provides the Twitter polls and some insightful answers from fellow developers.