Becoming a successful indie developer isn’t something that will happen overnight, instead it requires hard work and creating something that will impress your audience enough to make them part with their hard earned money. It might sound easy considering the numerous successful games out there, but one thing is certain, every indie studio has a specific set of guidelines that will lead them to success, and the same recipe might not always be successful. So we’ve created a list with some general guidelines that apply to every gaming genre, so that beginning developers can understand what makes a game successful and popular.


Focus on replayability, not necessarily content

The idea here is simple, all other factors equal, good games sell better than bad games. You will need to ensure that your base game is solid and that it has enough replay value to make people play it again and again. You also need to make sure your game is a game that people would like to play. It’s not rocket surgery, sure, but finding exactly what your audience wants can be a little tricky.


Spend as much time marketing as developing

No matter how amazing your game might be, you can’t get amazing results unless your audience knows that it exists. The more people know about the game, the higher the revenue you can get and the more popular the title will become. Make sure that you tell people about the game and market it thoroughly, because nobody will buy anything if they’ve never heard of it before. In fact, it wouldn’t be entirely amiss if you devoted just as much time to marketing as to actually making the game. Sometimes, that’s what it takes to ensure your game has enough market exposure.


Update your game often

Creating a game is one thing, but if you want to truly be successful, show people that you care about your creation and that they will receive value from your game after their purchase. Regular updates can resolve bugs as well as incorporate new features that will make gameplay more fun and refined.

This is especially true in the case of multiplayer games, but the single player ones can also benefit from it as well. An additional factor in keeping your product updated is to listen to your customers. Sometimes, they can point out errors you miss or make suggestions for new features to add, which can be tremendously helpful.


Hand stuff out for free

People love freebies so it’s important to connect with those people that are on the fence because this will turn them into paying customers. A free giveaway, some DLC codes and other similar promotions like that might help you in this regard.

Also, have giveaways for people who find bugs in your game, or assist you with certain other duties such as playtesting for game balance. This will keep your fanbase actively involved with your studio as well.


Have patience, success never happens overnight

It can be hard to wait when you know you have a major hit on your hands, but the reality is that it might take a while before your game can become successful.  To be successful, you have to be patient with your product’s development and responsive to your customer base. Giving up on a product after weak initial sales might result in your studio losing out on a revenue stream that would have been far more lucrative after just a little bit more work.


Special thanks to Yixin Li for authoring this article.

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