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Note: Indie Game Trends/Sales - Autumn 2009 Update

by Simon Carless on 10/25/09 08:33:00 pm   Expert Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

Just a quick note about some slides (and a taped lecture) related to independent game trends and stats that I [Simon Carless, Independent Games Festival chairman and Gamasutra publisher] presented in recent weeks in Asia and Australia, and are now available to everyone thanks to the magic of the Interwebs and file/videosharing devices.

As some of you may know, earlier this year I presented a lecture called 'Independent Games & Sales: Stats 101' at the Independent Games Summit at GDC 2009 in San Francisco. I made info on it available via my Gamasutra Expert Blog. Rather pleasingly, the full IGS 2009 lecture slides, hosted on, have now had more than 10,000 views, and it seems to be one of the few comprehensive overviews of the space.

The lecture was fairly well-received at GDC, especially in terms of its content, though I rather overstuffed things for a 30-minute talk, especially in terms of calculation minutiae. So when I was invited to speak at the Digital Distribution Summit in Melbourne, Australia (at the pictured BMW Edge conference hall) in September, followed by GDC China in Shanghai in October, I decided to simplify and update the metrics, while adding a section on trends/routes to success.

I've now put versions of two slide decks online. Firstly, there's 'Indie Game Metrics - October 2009' [ link.] This updates my March 2009 estimates for markets like Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, WiiWare, iPhone, and PC digital download, and ends with a couple of slides on important trends in the indie market - and it's fairly easy to understand without hearing the accompanying narration.

Obviously, this area is tremendously difficult to be accurate in, since there's no universal tracking system for digital game downloads, and little motivation for many of the stakeholders to hand out specifics. But as previously, I carefully cite real numbers revealed by developers or Leaderboards, and then give overall - and quite approximate - ranges for each market.

(If you believe I'm off base on any of these estimates, or have concrete examples to share - on or off the record - please contact me and we can talk about it. Overall, I really think that sharing data like this will help indies grow and flourish from a business - as well as creative - perspective.)

Secondly, I also made available 'Western Indie Game Trends' [Slideshare link]. This starts off as a basic introduction to the space for any Asian attendees of GDC China (the lecture was simultaneously translated). It then turns into a more detailed look at seven 'rules' for digital distribution success, as I see them - from defining your developer through being community-friendly, doing outreach, connecting with your peers, and more.

Much of the second slide deck, followed by the first slide deck, can be seen in video form, since the nice folks at Film Victoria recorded my Digital Distribution Summit talk and placed it on Vimeo for free streaming. Since this was the first time I'd given this talk, I'm a little bit scattershot for the first few minutes, but if you'd like to see 90 minutes worth of these slides with some extra explanation, go check it out. (I also recommend the other Digital Distribution Summit talks, particularly consultant and ex-XBLA strategist David Edery's excellent keynote, which is a really charismatic look at the market and much more overarching trends within it.)

Finally, it's also worth noting that I uploaded a couple of interesting GDC Austin slide decks to my Slideshare space, with the permission of their creators, including the talk from 2D Boy's Ron Carmel (on 'After The Finish Line' of shipping your game) and from Wolfire's John Graham (on effective indie game marketing). These should also be up on our GDC Vault archive sometime soon.

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