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Building Sustainable Indie
Studio in 2018
Kris Antoni, Toge Productions
Agenda
Today I’ll be discussing:
● 2009 vs 2018
● Building Team
● Managing Studio
● Choosing Projects
● Managing Projects
Introduction - About Me
Kris Antoni
Founder of Toge Productions
● 9 years of experience in game dev.
● IGDA Jakarta Chapte...
Introduction - About Toge
Toge Productions
Independent game development and publishing studio.
● Started in 2009, formally...
In the
beginning
Started with only 2 guys in
a garage
Indie game developer
making web-based Flash
games
No funding (~US$ 1...
Now
14 people
Indie dev &
publishing for PC,
consoles.
Collaborating with
more than 7
studios
We now have an
office and 2 ...
Sustainable?
● Keep going for a very long time
○ Survive
○ Adapt
Definition of
Indie Studio
Indie Studio is a team that has
complete creative freedom and
legal independence
Not the size o...
Starting your studio
2009 vs 2018
Starting your studio
2009 vs 2018
THE GOOD
Tools are accessible &
affordable
Engines are cheaper and
easier to use
Platforms are
more open
The Game Market
is Growing
Starting your studio
2009 vs 2018
THE BAD
The Game Market
It’s getting crowded, at least for Mobile and
Desktop (Steam)
Democratization of game development has
open...
The Game Market
Web Games
Flash Gaming is DEAD
(sort of)
The Game Market
Mobile
● There are approx 3,6 Million apps on
Google Play Store
● There are approx 3,1 Million apps on App...
The Game Market
Mobile
App Store - There are approx. 783,269
games in iOS (25% of total app)
Play Store - 677,560 games in...
The Game Market
Mobile
With $70Bn market it seems that in average
each game makes $47,918 in revenue per
year.
But in real...
The Game Market
Desktop (Steam)
● +-25,000 total games on Steam in 2018
● 7,696 games released in 2017 alone
● Predicted 9...
The Game Market
Console
● Dominated by AAA games
● However, relatively less crowded
● A lot easier now vs 2009, but still ...
The Quality Expectation
2009 - Angry Birds - $ 0.99 2018 - PUBG Mobile - Free
● Gamers expects high quality polished game
...
Self-Publishing in 2009
Make a good game and release!
● Show off on social media
● Success!
Self-Publishing in 2018
● Making a good game is no longer good enough. You also
need to think about:
○ Hooks
○ Content Siz...
2009 vs 2018
COMPLETELY
DIFFERENT!!!
The situation has changed!
We need to adapt to survive!
Survival Tips
Building
Your Team
Small and Agile Teams
● Keep your team small and agile
● Less mouths to feed, your budget will
last longer
● Hire people w...
Have
ONE DIRECTION
● Your team believe in the same
shared vision
● This will give you a direction to go
● Define goals and...
Have
Entrepreneurial
Soul
It’s okay to find inspirations from
other games, but if you don’t
stand-out from the crowd, you’...
Survival Tips
Managing
Your Studio
Set Goals & Milestones
● Objective & Key Results
● Agile Method (Sprints)
What is OKR?
OKR stands for Objectives & Key Results
is a framework for defining and tracking objectives to identify goals...
OKR Structure
Vision / Dream
Year 2
Strategic Goals
Year 1
Strategic Goals
Q1 Objective Q2 Objective Q3 Objective Q4 Objec...
OKR Best Practices
Where do we need to go?
● Objectives:
○ Directional
○ Inspiring & Ambitious
○ Qualitative
○ Time Bound ...
OKR Example
Dream:
The Best Game Ever!
Year 2
Strategic Goals
Year 1 SG:
Validate Visual
Style
Q1 Marketing Objective
Vira...
OKR Best Practices
Max 3 Objectives at a time
3-5 Key Results / Actions
Set Quarterly
Reviewed Weekly or Monthly
Visible t...
Benefits of OKR
● Disciplines Thinking
○ How to cascade major goals logically and how to achieve it
● Communicates Accurat...
Survival Tips
Choosing
Your Project
Acknowledge Your
Limitations
Do you have it to pull this off?
● Skills
● Experience
● Budget
● Time
● Platform / Tools (Mu...
Methods There are 2 approach
Product Oriented
Games First
Approach
Market Oriented
Audience/Platform
First Approach
Gamepl...
The Product
Oriented Approach
● Start with creating prototype
● Focus on innovation
(Mechanic, Visual, Narrative)
● Game-j...
First, Best, or Different
● If you can’t be the first, be the best
● If you can’t be the best, be different
● By being dif...
Fail Fast, Fail Forward
● Don’t waste time polishing crap
● Prototype and validate quickly
● Participate in game-jams & Lu...
The Market
Oriented Approach
● Start with market research
● Understanding the market
(User Behavior, Competition,
Trends)
...
Know Your
Audience
● Mobile Gamer
● On the go
● Short sessions
● Not willing to pay upfront
● PC Gamer
● Dedicated time/sp...
● How consumers find you?
● What influences them?
○ Streamers / Youtubers
○ Game Media
○ Etc
Important
● Landing Page ASAP...
Understanding
Hooks
Something that can grab your attention
and pull your curiosity
Types of hooks
1. Visual Aesthetics
2. ...
Know Your
Competition
● Is it a crowded genre?
● Product positioning?
● What works?
● What to avoid?
● Steamspy / App Anni...
Anticipate Trends ● Don’t follow current trends, you are too
late!
● Predict future trends!
You Need Both!
● Iterate and test
Prototype
Market
Research
Experiment
Development
Launch
Survival Tips
Managing
Your Project
Scaffolding
Building Chunks
Your dream project is too ambitious for
you to tackle at once!
Break it down into smaller chun...
Minimum Viable
Product (MVP)
MVP != Vertical Slice (at least not always)
Vertical Slice
A portion of the final product.
1 level / 1st 15 minutes.
MVP
Core Gameplay
Secondary
Features
Polish / Cos...
Build Visibility as
early as possible
Build hype and awareness.
Direct traffic to your Landing Page or
Store Page.
Goal co...
Pricing vs Revenue
(Steam)
$9.99 is the go to price for most indie
games
Pricing vs Revenue
(Steam)
Revenue generated vs price
Pricing vs Revenue
(Steam)
Value has to match Price
$19.99
Don’t make cheap games
Don’t sell your games for cheap!
Predicting Success
10,000 Steam Wishlist Pre-Launch
= ~5000 1st Week Steam Sales
= ~ 10,000 1st Month Steam Sales
= ~ 24,0...
Survival Tips
Work
Together
Collaborate
Find partners that complete you!
● Funds
● Skill & Experience
● Insight
So that you can focus on what you do
b...
Take Away & Conclusions
Take Away &
Conclusions
● The market is always changing, be
ready to adapt
● Always look for new opportunities
● Keep your...
Thank You
● Kris Antoni
@kerissakti
● Toge Productions
@togeproductions
Building sustainable indie studio in 2018
Building sustainable indie studio in 2018
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Building sustainable indie studio in 2018

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The games industry ecosystem has changed a lot since 2009, to survive as an indie game developer/studio you need to adapt. Here are some survival tips on how to manage your studio and projects in 2018.

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Building sustainable indie studio in 2018

  1. 1. Building Sustainable Indie Studio in 2018 Kris Antoni, Toge Productions
  2. 2. Agenda Today I’ll be discussing: ● 2009 vs 2018 ● Building Team ● Managing Studio ● Choosing Projects ● Managing Projects
  3. 3. Introduction - About Me Kris Antoni Founder of Toge Productions ● 9 years of experience in game dev. ● IGDA Jakarta Chapter coordinator ● Indonesian Games Association advisor
  4. 4. Introduction - About Toge Toge Productions Independent game development and publishing studio. ● Started in 2009, formally established in 2010. ● Released more than 20 games across multiple platforms (web, mobile, desktop)
  5. 5. In the beginning Started with only 2 guys in a garage Indie game developer making web-based Flash games No funding (~US$ 1000 own saving)
  6. 6. Now 14 people Indie dev & publishing for PC, consoles. Collaborating with more than 7 studios We now have an office and 2 cats
  7. 7. Sustainable? ● Keep going for a very long time ○ Survive ○ Adapt
  8. 8. Definition of Indie Studio Indie Studio is a team that has complete creative freedom and legal independence Not the size of the team or how much money they have Legal Independence Creative Freedom IndiesInternal R&D Internal Studio Work-for-hire/ Outsourced Team Source: Jason Della Rocca
  9. 9. Starting your studio 2009 vs 2018
  10. 10. Starting your studio 2009 vs 2018 THE GOOD
  11. 11. Tools are accessible & affordable Engines are cheaper and easier to use Platforms are more open
  12. 12. The Game Market is Growing
  13. 13. Starting your studio 2009 vs 2018 THE BAD
  14. 14. The Game Market It’s getting crowded, at least for Mobile and Desktop (Steam) Democratization of game development has opened the floodgates. Supply is exceeding Demand. We are competing for time and attention.
  15. 15. The Game Market Web Games Flash Gaming is DEAD (sort of)
  16. 16. The Game Market Mobile ● There are approx 3,6 Million apps on Google Play Store ● There are approx 3,1 Million apps on App Store
  17. 17. The Game Market Mobile App Store - There are approx. 783,269 games in iOS (25% of total app) Play Store - 677,560 games in Google Play Store (18% of total app) Very crowded, visibility is an issue Source: Statista.com
  18. 18. The Game Market Mobile With $70Bn market it seems that in average each game makes $47,918 in revenue per year. But in reality the top 1% mobile games earns 90% of the revenue. Backed by HUGE marketing budgets. Means that the rest 99% earns almost nothing Source: Statista.com
  19. 19. The Game Market Desktop (Steam) ● +-25,000 total games on Steam in 2018 ● 7,696 games released in 2017 alone ● Predicted 9800 new games in 2018 Top 0.5% games earns 50% of the total revenue Steam Greenligh t Source: Steamspy.com
  20. 20. The Game Market Console ● Dominated by AAA games ● However, relatively less crowded ● A lot easier now vs 2009, but still very hard for indies to enter (especially for 3rd world countries)
  21. 21. The Quality Expectation 2009 - Angry Birds - $ 0.99 2018 - PUBG Mobile - Free ● Gamers expects high quality polished game for cheap ● Race to the bottom $0
  22. 22. Self-Publishing in 2009 Make a good game and release! ● Show off on social media ● Success!
  23. 23. Self-Publishing in 2018 ● Making a good game is no longer good enough. You also need to think about: ○ Hooks ○ Content Size ○ Product Positioning ○ Marketing & PR ○ Release Windows ○ Pricing ○ Target Market ○ User Behaviour
  24. 24. 2009 vs 2018 COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!!! The situation has changed! We need to adapt to survive!
  25. 25. Survival Tips Building Your Team
  26. 26. Small and Agile Teams ● Keep your team small and agile ● Less mouths to feed, your budget will last longer ● Hire people with good work ethic and attitude, not just good skills ● Keep your projects small, but focused
  27. 27. Have ONE DIRECTION ● Your team believe in the same shared vision ● This will give you a direction to go ● Define goals and milestones ● Allows you to plan ahead ● OKR & Sprints (I’ll explain later)
  28. 28. Have Entrepreneurial Soul It’s okay to find inspirations from other games, but if you don’t stand-out from the crowd, you’ll drown. Build POSITIVE REPUTATION & DISTINCT SIGNATURE Impact / Innovation Commercial Intent Independent Entrepreneurs Sell Outs/ Clones ...just lost Starving Artists Source: Jason Della Rocca
  29. 29. Survival Tips Managing Your Studio
  30. 30. Set Goals & Milestones ● Objective & Key Results ● Agile Method (Sprints)
  31. 31. What is OKR? OKR stands for Objectives & Key Results is a framework for defining and tracking objectives to identify goals and focus efforts “A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes it reality.”
  32. 32. OKR Structure Vision / Dream Year 2 Strategic Goals Year 1 Strategic Goals Q1 Objective Q2 Objective Q3 Objective Q4 Objective Key Result Key Result Key Actions Long Term Yearly Quarterly Month or Week Company OKR Team OKR Personal OKR Key Actions
  33. 33. OKR Best Practices Where do we need to go? ● Objectives: ○ Directional ○ Inspiring & Ambitious ○ Qualitative ○ Time Bound (Yearly or Quarterly) ○ Actionable by team How do we know we are getting there? ● Key Results: ○ Results/Outcomes to achieve ○ Measurement of Success ○ Measurable & Quantifiable ○ Time Bound (Quarterly/Monthly) ○ Difficult, but not impossible Company OKR Team OKR Personal OKR Final Goal / Objective Milestones / Key Results Effort Driver / Key Actions What do we need to do to get there? ● Key Actions: ○ Efforts to achieve objective ○ Key to Success ○ Can be Number or Boolean ○ Time Bound (Monthly/Weekly) ○ Difficult, but not impossible
  34. 34. OKR Example Dream: The Best Game Ever! Year 2 Strategic Goals Year 1 SG: Validate Visual Style Q1 Marketing Objective Viral on Social Media Q1 Art Team Objective Create Distinctive Visual Style Key Result 10K Likes Key Result 10K Retweet Key Actions Post 10 Devlogs Key Actions Post 100 Concept Art Key Result Win 2 Awards Key Result 10K Likes Key Actions Experiment with 10 Art Styles Key Actions Make 100 Concept Art
  35. 35. OKR Best Practices Max 3 Objectives at a time 3-5 Key Results / Actions Set Quarterly Reviewed Weekly or Monthly Visible to Everyone <50% is problematic, 70% is on target, >90% is too easy Objectives Key Results Time Frame Progress Visibility Target
  36. 36. Benefits of OKR ● Disciplines Thinking ○ How to cascade major goals logically and how to achieve it ● Communicates Accurately ○ Gets everyone aligned to what is important ● Establishes Measurement Culture ○ Shows how far we have gone ○ Establishes benchmark ○ Motivates to push further ● Focuses Effort ○ Ensures that we are going the same direction ● Everyone is Involved! ○ Everyone knows where the company is going and participate in moving forward
  37. 37. Survival Tips Choosing Your Project
  38. 38. Acknowledge Your Limitations Do you have it to pull this off? ● Skills ● Experience ● Budget ● Time ● Platform / Tools (Multiplatform) ● Passion / Do you care? Impact & Result Cost & Effort (Effort) Max Cost Max Result (Waste) Max Cost Min Result (Stagnant) Min Cost Min Result (Lucky) Min Cost Max Result
  39. 39. Methods There are 2 approach Product Oriented Games First Approach Market Oriented Audience/Platform First Approach Gameplay ThemeVisual Competition Trends User Behavior
  40. 40. The Product Oriented Approach ● Start with creating prototype ● Focus on innovation (Mechanic, Visual, Narrative) ● Game-jams ● Find market fit later Prototype Market Research Experiment Development Launch
  41. 41. First, Best, or Different ● If you can’t be the first, be the best ● If you can’t be the best, be different ● By being different sometimes you’ll be the first ● Experiment & Innovate! Example: Ultra Space Battle Brawl Fighting PONG game on steroids
  42. 42. Fail Fast, Fail Forward ● Don’t waste time polishing crap ● Prototype and validate quickly ● Participate in game-jams & Ludum Dares ● Learn from your failures and move forward
  43. 43. The Market Oriented Approach ● Start with market research ● Understanding the market (User Behavior, Competition, Trends) ● Market analysis ● Find game design to fit market Prototype Market Research Experiment Development Launch
  44. 44. Know Your Audience ● Mobile Gamer ● On the go ● Short sessions ● Not willing to pay upfront ● PC Gamer ● Dedicated time/space ● Med-Long sessions ● Willing to pay upfront $-$$ ● Console Gamer ● Dedicated time/space ● Long sessions ● Willing to pay upfront $$$ ● Do market research & analysis ● Know their behavior/habits ● Know their demographic ● Know your customer journey ● Identify their personas ● What hooks them?
  45. 45. ● How consumers find you? ● What influences them? ○ Streamers / Youtubers ○ Game Media ○ Etc Important ● Landing Page ASAP ● Build fan base! Customer Journey
  46. 46. Understanding Hooks Something that can grab your attention and pull your curiosity Types of hooks 1. Visual Aesthetics 2. Theme Cohesiveness 3. Interesting Mechanic 4. Emotional Hook a. Nostalgia b. Controversy c. Dev Story 5. Audio Hook 6. Technological Novelty 7. Brand Loyalty / Power 8. Catchy Title & Pitch 9. ROI for the Player / Affordability 10. Social Hook / Peer Pressure
  47. 47. Know Your Competition ● Is it a crowded genre? ● Product positioning? ● What works? ● What to avoid? ● Steamspy / App Annie ● Boxleiter method Simulation Play as the zombie horde Play as a single zombie Action
  48. 48. Anticipate Trends ● Don’t follow current trends, you are too late! ● Predict future trends!
  49. 49. You Need Both! ● Iterate and test Prototype Market Research Experiment Development Launch
  50. 50. Survival Tips Managing Your Project
  51. 51. Scaffolding Building Chunks Your dream project is too ambitious for you to tackle at once! Break it down into smaller chunks.
  52. 52. Minimum Viable Product (MVP) MVP != Vertical Slice (at least not always)
  53. 53. Vertical Slice A portion of the final product. 1 level / 1st 15 minutes. MVP Core Gameplay Secondary Features Polish / Cosmetics
  54. 54. Build Visibility as early as possible Build hype and awareness. Direct traffic to your Landing Page or Store Page. Goal collect wishlist & fan base! Concept Art Mock-ups Post concept art or mockups to social media Concept Alpha Demo / Early Prototype Post GIF or video, Proof of concept demo Alpha Vertical Slice Demo Feature highlight, Teaser demo Teaser trailer Exhibition & Competitions Beta Trailers Gameplay, Story / Narrative, Announcement Trailer Pre-Launch Launch Updates Post-Launch
  55. 55. Pricing vs Revenue (Steam) $9.99 is the go to price for most indie games
  56. 56. Pricing vs Revenue (Steam) Revenue generated vs price
  57. 57. Pricing vs Revenue (Steam) Value has to match Price $19.99 Don’t make cheap games Don’t sell your games for cheap!
  58. 58. Predicting Success 10,000 Steam Wishlist Pre-Launch = ~5000 1st Week Steam Sales = ~ 10,000 1st Month Steam Sales = ~ 24,000 1st Year Steam Sales Average price of $10 ($10 median, $12 mean) More wishlist = more sales The right pricing = more revenue Rough estimates based on average Steam game: ● 30%-50% Pre-launch Wishlist is = 1st week sales (Wishlist conversion + organic sales) ● 1st week sales = 50% of 1st month sales ● 1st month sales = 40% of 1st year sales Average 1st year wishlist conversion rate 15.4%
  59. 59. Survival Tips Work Together
  60. 60. Collaborate Find partners that complete you! ● Funds ● Skill & Experience ● Insight So that you can focus on what you do best!
  61. 61. Take Away & Conclusions
  62. 62. Take Away & Conclusions ● The market is always changing, be ready to adapt ● Always look for new opportunities ● Keep your team small & agile ● Have clear direction ● Set goals & milestones ● Know your limitations ● Be unique & distinctive ● Build your fan base early ● Collaborate
  63. 63. Thank You ● Kris Antoni @kerissakti ● Toge Productions @togeproductions

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