This is all about some form of profit and the options we have considered. first we looked at the methods of sustainable production in the games industry. We analysed each form of revenue generation that is typical of the current market and discussed how and whether is would apply to Darkness Dwells.
Freeware running ads
This is mostly suited to mobile games, where the game is free but it runs ads within loading screens or uses pop-ups and advertising systems run by the greater app sales systems. The profitability of this structure is tied to the interest and engagement of the game but usually relies on intrusive methods of promotion (pop-up, banners, other screen covering layouts).
This doesn’t work for us as the game is designed to be played on a computer, and it has been designed to be thoroughly engaged with. Most ad running games as described above use the breaks between plays to show the adverts, taking the opportunities for the distraction and also serves the player as a break from the stress of the game. Darkness Dwells, however, relies on the consistent engagement from the player in order to have the greatest effect. this means that we don’t want to shift the focus of the player from the game.
Pay for game access
This is the most common, where a game is placed in the store, a consumer pays a set amount of money and has access to download and play the game. To successfully distribute the game like this, we need to consider the cost, not just the price and implications of it, but also the time invested by us, weighed against the risk of failure. Earlier in the term we looked as price points in games and what sorts of expectations consumers have at different price points. We would need to complete the entire game and then think about what this amount of game time is worth, and then hope that it will balance. This has a lot of risk to it, but would still lead to to game being on the market which benefits from the design consideration made earlier to maximise its success (IE. Horror, mythology, etc.).
We could (and are leaning towards) creating a crowdfunding campaign. As confident as we are that we could complete this game to the standard we intend, it would still be a large time commitment from each of us, WHILE we are trying to do all the normal life things.
Using a crowdfunding system, we would be able to ensure that the effort would equate to the interest and payoff. This would not necessarily be about monetary profit, so much as covering a budget, but we would have the overall product complete, under our belt and proven to have been “successful”, as we were able to live off of out craft for a period of time. Even though that period would be the time we spend on it. The point is that it creates a minimum level of success that we can build upon, though this requires extreme levels of budgeting and production savvy. It still may be the best option.
If this is the way we go, we will be releasing the “demo” of the game to create interest which will be the first night of the game for free. It will also have links and information on the full version of the game. The proof of concept will already be part of the game which we had aimed to make anyway, and, as stated in the design reflection, would have most of the mechanics of the game fully functional , thereby making the rest of the game largely a matter of cosmetic structure and level design.
The next part of the process is “considering distribution platforms”. Not all games stores are equal in their ability to promote indie games, especially of the scale of Darkness Dwells, and the costs and taxes of each one are quite different.
For example, Steam costs money to have a game distributed by. It also takes a huge cut of the revenue brought in by the game and also requires savvy navigation in order for a normal person to find new releases or games that are not AAA. These hurdles are all to be weighed against the “prestige” or credibility created by having a game on steam.
Itch.io and Gamejolt have a mush smaller pool of people that regularly interact with them but are free to distribute on and generate income. These are the platforms that we will be primarily distributing upon initially but will treat the engagement with it as one metric by which we can judge future actions, along the same line of reasoning as the considerations of crowdfunding.
It’s interesting but will require more research as the game is tested and refined more in the future. We know that it has a following at this point which is a damn good place to start.