While money won’t solve all of your problems, it sure cuts down on a lot of them!
Problems such as: investing in new tools to speed up processes; paying for conference tickets to connect with Influencers; or buying ads to gain more exposure. Let’s not forget the most important part: putting food on the table.
Launched a game and now need quick cash infusion? Here are some ideas.
#1 – Sell Game Assets to Other Devs
After launching, you may have additional assets left over.
- Character animations that just don’t fit.
- 3D interiors that ended up on the cutting room floor.
- Sound effects you commissioned that you can’t find a place for.
- Placeholder content while you wait for final versions.
Find a storefront to sell your excess assets!
While you’re not going to make riches from selling your art rags, it’s passive income just from cleaning house. Spending an afternoon setting up your store page can make you some additional revenue.
The worse case scenario, you test the idea and get no sales. The best case scenario, you discover a huge opportunity to make a living crafting art assets.
#2 – Repackaging Your Tools
If you’re a programmer, you’ve made internal tools to make your life easier.
Time to change hats and think like a marketer. Who knows? Your tool might turn into a new business!
In 2011, Tiny Speck launched the browser-based MMO called Glitch, which failed to make money and resulted in the layoff of many staff members. Needing something to keep them afloat, they looked into their internal tools. One tool they developed was a hacked-together chatroom program for team communication. After much market validation and feedback, they launched the tool called Slack. That tool is now valuated at $2.8 billion dollars.
Look into your custom-built tools for one that you can potentially sell. There may be others just like you with the same problem who may be willing to pay for it!
The best way to see if there’s marketing viability is to ask. Do some research and chat other developers in your space. If the tools you develop solve their problems, you might be on to something. Move to the next step and sell it.
#3 – Providing a Service
You just made a video game. You probably:
- Built a game design document
- Created art assets
- Made a trailer
- Did some programming
- Made a website
- Designed a game
- Created your marketing campaign
- Tabled at conventions and events
Congratulations! You are now part of the top percentile of game developers who shipped something as complex as a video game to the world!
You have the credibility and expertise to do it for others.
Two methods to finding side gigs:
- You can join freelancing sites like Upwork, Freelancer, or even Fiverr.
- Look into dev communities for “For Hire” forums, or cold-email your favorite game developers with some advice on how you can help.
Since you have the experience in shipping a game, you’ll have a one-up on all the freelancers who only know one or two skills. After fulfilling one gig, you’re in the prime position in upsell your clients with further gigs (and cut out the middle man).
Look for projects that have a hard time-limit and clear deliverables. Test to see if freelancing if right for you. It’s easier to take a 2-week project and decide than commit to a long-term project.
#4 – Teaching
People are willing to PAY you for your experience.
In 2009, I lost my will to develop video games and returned to working a 9-5 grind. Fortunately, a local community center I’d volunteered at suggested I teach my experience in their space. I mocked up a poster to sell my course Game Design for 9-14 year-olds. I printed about 20 posters and hung them around the neighborhood and near schools. It quickly sold out, and I had to build a waiting list.
The original price was $250 for six classes. After wrapping up the course, I’d sell it again, this time increasing the price to $350, then $450, and then $550. Even at double the original price tag, the demand was still high, and I maxed out on students. I made so much money I paid off my entire credit card debt.
Teaching isn’t just for those with PhDs, nor does it require expert credentials. Remember: you’re part of that 1% of those who launched! Not to mention: Kids want to make video games, and parents want to pay you to teach them! Win-win!
All you need is a location with a computer lab. Think about libraries, recreation centers, community centers, and even schools. Find the director in charge of programming and make your proposal. It’ll take some elbow grease, but the payoff is incredibly high.
Once you’ve been accepted to teach, don’t bother creating a complete curriculum until you have students. If you are unable to fill your program, you’ll waste dozens of hours that you could have used to getting your first paid student.
Only when the first student enrolls have you validated that there’s an opportunity, and then you can flesh out your course.
#5 – Consulting and Mentorship
By teaching game development to teens, I attracted IT professionals who asked if I also taught adult classes. They were already professionals who wanted to know how to ship. Rather than teach, I offered them consulting.
If you don’t feel confident that you have enough experience, I want to emphasize that YOU LAUNCHED A GAME. My consulting clients had masters degrees in engineering. But they kept spinning their wheels and never figured out how to craft a game. Like the 4th grader teaching the 1st grader, you can still share your experience.
How to do it:
- Start for free. Provide help in dev groups. Engage in phone calls. Freely give expertise.
- The more you are helpful, the more people look to you as a voice of authority on that particular topic.
- As more people come to you for guidance, your time becomes more precious, and it’s time to charge them!
- Don’t put the horse before the wagon. Let your clients/students decide what they want to learn, then charge them for it. If you build a 20-hour training course on how to program in Unity BEFORE anyone raises their hands to buy from you, you failed.
#6 – Sell More Games
The painter Pablo Picasso is best known for introducing Cubism into the world. But if you look into his body of work, he’s produced over 50,000 pieces of art. To be that prolific, he would have to make about two pieces of art a day for 68 years! Pablo has dozens of success pieces of art sold for millions of dollars. The rest, not so much.
As a small indie developer, you have the flexibility to develop many games to test the market quickly. The idea that longer development time equals higher success no longer holds true.
Crossy Road was developed in twelve weeks. It has since made over $10 million.
Let’s also not forget Flappy Birds, which was a Vietnamese student’s prototype that became viral and that was making $50,000 a day. The developer later released a REAL game, which didn’t get anywhere near the same traction.
Being quick to market means you can quickly test to see if people will raise their hands and pay.
#7 – Porting Your Game
Porting is when you released on iOS and then repackage it to Android and Steam. But! Don’t port without validation! What developers do wrong is that they port games because they believe it should go to that system.
Not all markets are the same. Seeing that Android has 1.4 billion devices doesn’t automatically mean you must be on that platform. Instead, look for proof that your game will sell.
One way is to float the concept to your audience. Virgin CEO Richard Branson struck on the idea of Virgin Airlines when his flight got canceled. He held up a ‘one way $39’ sign at the airport and used the money to pay for a private airplane.
Additional ways to do this is by gathering a waiting list (with a landing page) and launching only after you hit a specific milestone, making users say YES with their wallet through crowd funding, or looking at similar games to yours and looking at their marketing viability through AppAnnie.
#8 – Repackage Your Game
You can also repackage your game with bonuses, making it a premium version, like an Ultimate edition (Editor’s Note: Or even a Black Edition, eh eh?).
Poll your fans to see what extras would be worth paying for a premium version. If a fan screams, “Cash grab!” kindly show them the poll results and say, “This is what the fans want. Did you vote?”
Additional elements like commentary, artwork, or behind the scenes content can significantly enhance your product without making it look like you left it out of the core game.
By asking your fans, you’ll provide goodwill that you’re listening to them and respecting their insight, which in turn will encourage them to upgrade as well.
#9 – Merchandising, Merchandising, Merchandising!
Finally, we go into physical product territory, such as T-shirts, plushies, and posters.
The benefit of a physical product is:
- They provide an additional opportunity to market. An appealing plushie of an iconic monster in your game might trigger curiosity from new fans.
- Your die-hard fans WANT to show the world your work. They want to proudly represent that they are part of this particular fan base.
Plus, you don’t need to buy thousands of dollars of your products to sell online.
Here’s why: After the dot-com bust the early 2000s, internet companies realized that they don’t need to play by the same rules as brick and mortar businesses.
One example, a startup wanted to explore if consumers would buy cars online. They tested this idea by quickly created a rough website and attracting buyers with google ads. When a buyer made a purchase, only then did they figure out how to deliver. This startup didn’t have ANY cars! Instead, they found a car dealership near the buyer, bought that particular car and delivered it. The test to validate if someone would buy the vehicles online was successful, and then see if it was worth scaling.
You can do the same! Shop around for online t-shirt print shops that can deliver directly to your customer. No need to call them and make business deals. Just bookmark that website.
On your site, mock up a t-shirt design and sell it. If the print shop costs $20 to print/deliver, sell your t-shirts for $25 on your site. When someone orders from your website, immediately make an order on that print shop website.
If it’s one order every week, that’s $25 a month you’ve made just for only filling out a form. If it’s more than that, it’s time to scale up and make business deals. You validated that people want your stuff, and now it’s time to automate it.
They’ll Come, Because You Floated Before You Built
You might have noticed a pattern in all of the quick money injections.
It can be summed up in this one piece of business advice:
Float the idea and sell it, before you build it.
There are opportunities to earn additional income everywhere, as long as you’re willing to look.
What ways have you added additional revenue as a game developer? Let us know in the comments!