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GDC China:  Canabalt 's Saltsman On Why PC, Mac Rules For Indies

GDC China: Canabalt's Saltsman On Why PC, Mac Rules For Indies

November 13, 2011 | By Simon Carless

Talking at GDC China 2011's Indie Games Summit, Canabalt and Flixel creator Adam Saltsman took attendees through an in-depth tour of opportunities for independent game developers.

In particular, he highlighted PC and Mac development as, in his view, "the most indie-friendly platforms currently available", praising the platforms' openness and multiple revenue stream opportunities.

Of course, Saltsman noted at his lecture in Shanghai, Steam is an extremely dominant player in this space. In fact, he put up a joke photo 'elephant in the room' slide to discuss the service.

But Valve's download service wouldn't work if it wasn't so popular, and Saltsman recommended them since they aren't shy about promoting indies on the service.

He also highlighted that above all, Steam works because of "the fact that they have a huge audience", even if "there's still a gatekeeper" out there to get your game onto the service.

Interestingly, Saltsman suggested that a number of prominent indies are now seeing Steam/overall PC sales total more than 50% of their total revenue, even if they "also have their game on [other platforms like] Xbox Live Arcade."

If you add to that the ability to join bundles like Humble Bundle or Indie Royale, plus the possibilities of selling alpha versions of your game or even direct downloads of the finished project, the avenues of game distribution on PC and Mac are wide and long.

Concluding his section on PC and Mac game creation, Saltsman highlighted why it works: "You don't need a dev kit, you don't need a publisher… you don't need any special contracts, there's a massive audience of players that support niche titles… and the way that PC and Mac games are sold is innovating in a really positive way right now."

The Canabalt creator finished up the rest of his talk by running through other major opportunities in the mobile, social, and console download spaces. But another fascinating area of the lecture had Saltsman illuminating his relatively zen philosophy for making games.

In particular, he noted: "I would prefer to give away all my games for free so everyone could enjoy them. But selling the game that you're working on is a really convenient way to get money to make your next game."

The laconic Austin, TX-based indie also suggested that if you're pushing to make games purely for commercial reasons, you may be barking up the wrong tree, concluding: "There are much more reliable ways to get rich than making video games."

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