Small Studios - how do you fund yourselves?

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by pbb76, Sep 7, 2012.

  1. pbb76

    pbb76 Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2009
    I run a small web design studio (2 of us), but we really want to stop that and start making iOS games now.

    How do you small studios cope with funding yourselves for the duration of development? Do you get external funding? Bank loans? All multi-millionaires?! :p

    Thanks for any advice :)
  2. WeGotPixels

    WeGotPixels Active Member

    Hi Pbb76,

    I started 3 years ago as a hobby next to my day job. It then escalated from there, and now we get our development funds from apps that are already in the store.
    This enables us to develop new games/apps while the other apps are funding the company.

    I think you should start doing it in your free time og maybe use 20% of your time developing apps/games, and 80% developing websites (so you do not risk it all).

    Hope it helps,

    - Christian
  3. Ndemic Creations

    Ndemic Creations Well-Known Member

    I did it as a hobby outside of my day job - yes it takes longer but it gives you security and also lets you spend money on contractors to do the stuff that you can't do
  4. nvx

    nvx Well-Known Member

    Jan 7, 2011
    You can look to take out a loan or fire up a kickstarter project, depends on how much finance you really need (not only for development, but also for marketing)

    Have you calculated the total cost of developing your project yet?
    an approximate ballpark figure might help you get more relevant replies here ;)

    To answer your original question:

    Our first game (the original version of "Olympus Archery" which was later replaced) was completely self-funded out of personal savings.
    Once sales started coming in, the company was able to self-fund more projects without needing any additional source of funding

    Having lots of money doesn't mean anything
    Some devs have spent fortunes making big games which dont even sell, whilst others have made huge earnings from indie/hobby projects that were never intended to be big

    You dont need millions to make games, but you DO need good judgment (and a lot of luck) :)
  5. Zenout

    Zenout Well-Known Member

    For me it's been relative to what I did before, so I might not make a penny on most days but that's how things were anyway so it's ok for me to keep developing as long as it takes...I'm used to having no money for like ever! Obviously I manage to eat, but that's about it - happy to be coding full time!!
  6. Silverous

    Silverous Well-Known Member

    Oct 21, 2011
    Respect! :)
  7. pbb76

    pbb76 Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2009
    Thanks good people!

    We have about 5 project ideas that are ready to go (and we think are going to be really good games - but I guess everyone thinks that!)

    We defo gonna be going the kickstarter route, but seems a lot of kickstarter projects are either mostly done or have at least a large amount of assets etc built. Seems to defeat the point a bit sometimes.

    Other than that, yea, we are gonna have to split our dev time, but our web work is incredibly busy at the moment which is a right pain in the buttocks :(
  8. Rainier

    Rainier Well-Known Member

    Apr 16, 2012
    I'm using my savings. I divert part of my income from my job to hire contractors who can help me with my project.

    Kickstarter seems to have a lot of appeal. It's one way to pre-test if an idea can take flight or not. If there's not enough interest the project won't get funded, which is another way of saying you just saved yourself a lot of money that could have possibly gone toward a dud.
  9. David Phan

    David Phan Well-Known Member

    Feb 27, 2012
    President & Producer
    Our start-up is self-funded/boot-strapped with our own savings. We borrowed an additional $15k from the Canadian Youth Business Federation which has a very low interest rate. Would recommend you look into local/national programs in your area/country for small business and tech initiative type grants and loans.

    Kickstarter can be great and all, but keep in mind that ~40% of projects fail in not reaching their funding goals (source). I would not put all your eggs in a basket and bank on kickstarter. If you can afford to use your own savings or borrow & beg from families and friends, that can give you the initial funding you need while you look for additional funding from grants, programs, bank loans and avenues like Kickstarter.

  10. Active Member

    I'm bootstrapping my first project from savings/extra disposable income. I have no experience in the gaming/programming industry whatsoever, unfortunately, so I'm learning a costly lesson but one I think is well worth it.

    Jared Martin
  11. BazookaTime

    BazookaTime Well-Known Member

    I do this as a hobby, so I have funded everything myself. I have sold off projects in the past to start new projects though.
  12. fenixn0909

    fenixn0909 Well-Known Member

    I'm developer of Monko Jumpo, I've saw your stories and they made me respect you guys.
    Can't even fund myself by my project from pass 9 months, I must be lack of something that you have and I don't, or there are some problem for my method.

    If you can share some of your experience, I will be very appreciate.
    How do you gain exposure for your apps? paid ads or free one? is there any good marketing method?

    Thank you very much :confused:.
  13. frankywhite

    frankywhite Member

    Sep 8, 2012
    im also interested in this to see how im able to support myself,
    do the games that gets released need to be in any of the top list to make any money?
    cant count on that my first game is going to be an angry bird, but if its an avarage good game what kind of money could (potentially) be doing?
  14. BrokenKings

    BrokenKings Well-Known Member

    May 13, 2009
    I started developing apps 3 years ago. At the time, I had just left a well paying job and had a nicely sized chunk of dough in the bank - and my first game got featured big time by Apple and made me a ton more money so I thought I had it made. Spent the next year making a second game and a few big updates to the major game. Both times paid an artist with a small advance and a lot of percentage. Spent a load of change promoting the first game after the second game flopped, hoping the updates would bring it back to featured levels of sales. No dice, and I ran out of money.

    Second year I did some consulting, then worked for a publisher who paid me much less than my game was worth, so I basically ate through all the money I had made consulting before to make a game and only own 20% of it. Lesson learned. But I managed to have a bit of capital to run "Broken King House" for a month and a half, where myself and my roommates made a game every weekend. I paid them in rent, food, bills, and a small amount of spending money, but we all believed given time we would find a hit, grow it, and go from there ... well, we never reached that point before the runway ran out. (In fact, I put myself in debt because I had expected certain money that never came in, whoops!)

    Year three I did not release any games. I consulted to get back out of debt.

    This is year 4 and, with the lessons learned in the past three years, I am going with a new plan. I have an artist paid full time and another paid part time I am hoping to bring in full time later. I am consulting 40 hours a week to afford this and making my game during evening and weekends. Let me tell you - it requires a lot of passion and can be tiring at times - but we truly believe in this project, and it is a lot less stressful knowing that I am not about to run out of money making it as long as I can keep on consulting, so we are putting in the time to do everything right. (Unlike before, where our model involved getting titles out as fast as possible - which had its upsides, especially for an indie, but never really resulted in high quality games. This game, btw, is a sequel to our first game that had it's moment in the sun and still have fans asking for more updates, so we are going with a semi-safe route for our first "AAA" game). Time will tell if this model is the right model, or just a more expensive way to fail.
  15. headcaseGames

    headcaseGames Well-Known Member

    Jun 26, 2009
    Mobile Game Developer
    Hollywood, CA
    yes, I have basically got myself near bankrupt (not hyperbole) in the process of doing this, so now I focus a lot less on game development and a lot more on picking up any kind of freelance work whenever (or wherever) I can. Indie development is a harsh mistress indeed, but it has been a blast for sure.
  16. tofusoup

    tofusoup Well-Known Member

    Aug 23, 2010
    Game Designer
    San Francisco
    So for me, I saved up while working in the game industry, quit, used a portion of my savings, took an additional loan from family, and lost it all!

    haha. No regrets right??

    Now I'm working again, trying to get new games started and trying to avoid my family for awhile :).

    You gotta do what you gotta do.
  17. frankywhite

    frankywhite Member

    Sep 8, 2012
    #17 frankywhite, Sep 23, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
    whats your experiences with having a studio consisting of people in several cities even countries working together on one project?
    finding the right people in the right town is difficult and sometimes it doesnt matter as office costs a lot and every penny counts.
    but is it possible having a small studio(2-3) that arent sitting together and still creating a good game?
  18. OniMitch

    OniMitch Active Member

    Jun 17, 2011
    Games Designer
    Oxford, UK
    I run a Digital Production Agency called Two Tails, which helps fund out games studio. In other words - work for hire :)
  19. I work for Lightwood Games, which is just two of us. Before I joined, it was just Chris, making websites for people and dabbling in iOS development for clients. We worked on contract work most of our time whilst creating games in what free time we had. We built up our catalogue slowly, making sure we always had enough client work to pay the bills.

    Now, we have enough games making enough money to pay our salaries and we no longer do any contract work. We just spend all our time making games and it's awesome! :D
  20. frankywhite

    frankywhite Member

    Sep 8, 2012
    thanks for sharing your experience, that sounds great
    how many games / time did you spend before beeing able to work with games full time?

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