In a blog posted to his website today, Shadowhand developer Jake Birkett discusses the potential pitfalls of a long development cycle, especially as an independent creator in today's current market. His insight could prove useful for other independent developers considering the timeline of their next game.
Birkett took to Twitter to ask his peers how long they spent developing their games and found that almost a third of them were in the middle of projects three plus years in the making. His verdict: developers are spending too long making their games.
He presents a hypothetical situation in which a game took two years to make and grossed $100k on Steam in its first year. After breaking down the cost of development (taxes, contractors, and full time contributors) he points out how that $100k sum can dwindle quickly.
Then Birkett looks at his own games on Steam. Between Shadowhand (which took two and a half years to develop) and Spooky Bonus (with a three month development cycle), he notes that the latter has earned him the most $/hour. "Even with a decent long tail, Shadowhand is basically NEVER going to match Spooky Bonus for $ per hour," He acknowledges.
"That’s why in 2018 I’m focusing on making games a lot quicker," Birkett writes. "Note that quicker doesn't mean crappier." He cautions that devs should spend longer making their game only if they have the funds to do so. Most indies, he points out, just don't have the resources.
"Just please be realistic about your game and don’t fall into the trap of making a giant piece of art that earns you nothing except disappointment."
Check out the entire blog post here.