One of the people I respect is Bart Bonte. He’s put a lot of puzzle games out and has had a successful blog running for quite some time. I also heard he recently got to 500k players on his game Black.
Well, Bart put an article out recently on how he’s become a successful mobile developer. I recommend reading the whole article here. Aside from being inspiring and quite enlightening, I have to admit, there were some surprises in there that I found perfectly encouraging. I’ll summarize.
He shares my opinion that, you shouldn’t plan to make a million dollar game. Instead, plan to make lots of small games, and build your following gradually. It might not be an overnight success, but it’s stable, and you can build towards that million dollar dream. I’m personally working towards that goal right now with my recent release of Puzzledorf. It’s not a massive open world adventure, but it’s a solid smaller game that I think is worth the players money.
Furthermore, Bart tries to plan games that take roughly 3 to 4 months to complete. I’ve heard this advice echoed many times by other developers – aside from building a following, you will learn a lot about making games. It’s something I would like to do, although game development can throw curve balls at you. I thought Puzzledorf would take 6 months but it took a couple of years to make while learning Unity at the same time.
I’m not sure why, but you learn a lot more from making lots of small games than you would making one large game over several years. I think because you get exposed to more ways of thinking and experiences. I definitely felt I learned a lot while making lots of small, experimental games in Puzzlescript before developing Puzzledorf. But then I also learned a huge amount making Puzzledorf.
The part that really stood out to me in Bart’s article, though, was his experiences with releasing games. A lot of people say that, if you don’t have a big launch, you’ll fail. Well, he admits a lot of his games didn’t launch with much fanfare, and didn’t get written about much, and yet he’s done quite well (500k players for Black ain’t bad).
There are a variety of reasons he gives for how he has achieved long term success, but one that he mentions, and that stood out, is the importance of having a catalog of games. If you make one game that people like, there’s a good chance they will check out your other games too. I’ve heard a number of people experience this. It’s another good argument for making lots of small games.
There’s a lot of other great stuff he says, so I suggest you head over and read the full article here.