Jun 112015

The FTC imposes a fine on a board game creator who failed to deliver their Kickstarter.

Developers publicly wring their hands about the reports of high refund rates on Steam.

Everyone looks to VR, but there’s already people asking whether it is a bubble.

What’s going on?

There are two business models: sell something in advance using promises, and persuade a lot of people who might not like a product a lot; or give the product cheaply and charge after the fact.

Here are some basic facts of life regarding these two models.

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Game talkGamasutra on the indie economics talk

 Posted by (Visited 4431 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: ,
Oct 132014

Yesterday Greg Costikyan and I did an on-stage conversation at Indiecade about the economics of the indie market. It was pretty wide-ranging, with discussions of Rochdale cooperatives, performing rights organizations, designing games that can be hobbies rather than disposable content, and more.

As you might expect, there was no easy answer. Otherwise all the usual suggested tactics would have worked better for Costikyan, who deadpanned right away: “I have founded two failed companies. Follow my advice and you too can fail.” Koster, who despite having sold a successful company, noted “You can be successful business-wise, and still not achieve what you want in games.”

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May 072014

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the financial future of developers.

The supply chain for creative work

To go back a ways, back in 2006 I suggested that you could look at the winding path a piece of media takes to the public in this way:

086260-rounded-glossy-black-icon-business-dollar-solidA funder of some sort ponies up the money so that a creative can eat while they work. Sometimes this is self-funding, sometimes it’s an advance, sometimes it’s patronage.
020790-rounded-glossy-black-icon-symbols-shapes-thought-bubble-ps A creator actually makes the artwork.
066167-rounded-glossy-black-icon-people-things-people-securityAn editor serves the role of gatekeeper and quality check, deciding what makes it further up the ladder. They serve in a curatorial role not just for the sake of gatekeeping but also to keep the overall market from being impossible to navigate, and to maximize the revenue from a given work.
033343-rounded-glossy-black-icon-culture-castle-five-towersA publisher disseminates the work to the market under their name. A lot of folks might think this role doesn’t matter, but there are huge economies of scale in aggregating work; there’s boring tax. legal, and business reasons to do it; it serves brand identity, making the work easier, to market…
002953-rounded-glossy-black-icon-media-loudspeaker1Marketing channels make it possible for the artwork to be seen by the public: reviews, trade magazines, ads. This is how the public finds out something even exists.
040733-rounded-glossy-black-icon-transport-travel-z-truck25 Distributors actually convey the work to the store’s hands. This role functions in the background, but it’s absolutely critical. There’s a lot of infrastructure required.
086385-rounded-glossy-black-icon-business-tagStores then retail the packaged form of the artwork to the end customer. Stores have their own branding task, and likely serve as a curatorial and recommendation engine all over again, this time trying to find the right fit for the customer.
020767-rounded-glossy-black-icon-symbols-shapes-smiley-face1The audience then gets to experience the work.
009311-rounded-glossy-black-icon-arrows-arrow-circle-refreshRe-users then take the creation and restart the process in alternate forms; adaptations to movies, audiobooks, classic game packages, what have you.

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Game talkIndie Game Challenge #3

 Posted by (Visited 7033 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
Aug 192011

Got this in the mail, and thought some of you might be interested!

The third annual Indie Game Challenge is now open for entries! Don’t miss your chance to showcase your skills and catapult your professional gaming career to the next level.

Presented by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS), GameStop and The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University, the competition offers almost $250,000 in prize monies and scholarships, including a $100,000 grand prize for the winning game. Finalists will also receive national exposure and be eligible for additional prize money by having their pitch videos posted on GameStop.com and GameStop TV for People’s Choice Award voting.

Individuals or teams are asked to submit game betas and pitch videos by Oct. 3, 2011. Finalists will get the opportunity of a lifetime, will be flown to Las Vegas to attend the prestigious D.I.C.E. Summit, have a chance to showcase their games to top publishers in the video game industry set up by the IGC, and will be invited to attend the Indie Game Challenge Awards in February 2012.

If you have a game that you/your team would like to submit, or to simply support independent game developers, visit www.indiegamechallenge.com. For questions about the registration process or game submissions, please email indiehelp@smu.edu.

Good luck!

Game talkTrinhex

 Posted by (Visited 9768 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , ,
Jun 102010

On Metaplace there was a puzzle game I designed called Wheelwright. One of our users, known as Obo there but as oscan on Kongregate, just released a game called Trinhex on Kongregate that is inspired by that one. Given that it is hexes, it of course plays very differently, adding triangle swaps and bonus objectives. Check it out!

Jan 282010

Got an email today from Jason Rohrer, asking if I was going. Alas no — not only did my son have surgery yesterday, but I have jury duty on Monday. 🙁 But the event looks very cool:

The Art History of Games is a three-day public symposium in which members of the fields of game studies, art history and related areas of cultural studies gather to investigate games as an art form.

Also featured in the conference is the premiere of commissioned art games by Jason Rohrer, Tale of Tales and Nathalie Pozzi and Eric Zimmerman. The three commissioned games will be on display at Kai Lin Art (800 Peachtree St. N.E.) from Thursday, February 4 through Tuesday, March 2. The opening reception will take place Friday, February 5 from 8:00 pm until 10:00 pm.

Read on for more details:

The symposium will be held Feb. 4-6 in the High Museum of Art’s Rich Auditorium on the campus of the Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E., in midtown Atlanta.

For more information, please contact arthistoryofgames@scad.edu.


Brenda Brathwaite’s game Train will be on display as well, and Eric & Nathalie’s game is non-digital, so this looks to cover both the videogame and boardgame side of things.

There’s an afterparty too:

just finalized the details of the Art History of Games After Party; Sat Feb 6th. 7-10pm @ W Atlanta Midtown sponsored by Indiecade and IGDA Atlanta.

It’s an Indie Game Slam Open Mic where you can sign-up to give a 3 minute overview of your game.

Here is the Facebook invite: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=261265599581&ref=mf

Game talklose/lose

 Posted by (Visited 7543 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: ,
Sep 252009

Here’s an interesting game experiment — shades of Ender’s Game, in a way!

Lose/Lose is a video-game with real life consequences. Each alien in the game is created based on a random file on the players computer. If the player kills the alien, the file it is based on is deleted. If the players ship is destroyed, the application itself is deleted.Although touching aliens will cause the player to lose the game, and killing aliens awards points, the aliens will never actually fire at the player. This calls into question the player’s mission, which is never explicitly stated, only hinted at through classic game mechanics. Is the player supposed to be an aggressor? Or merely an observer, traversing through a dangerous land?

via lose/lose and @mrseb

Video is below. I am amused that the top player blew away thousands of files on their hard drive.

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Game talkArt game guy Jason Rohrer in Metaplace

 Posted by (Visited 6473 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: ,
Aug 182009

Jason Rohrer, known for games like Passage, will be on the Metaplace stage this Friday. I am sure that most of the readers of this blog know about him, but I will paste all this info in anyway! I’ll embed the actual event when it happens (and the link to The Stage is on the blog sidebar as well), so you can just come here to attend.

If you know indie game development or art game communities that might be interested, pass this along!


Where: TheStage <http://www.metaplace.com/TheStage/play>
When: August 21
Duration: 12:00pm – 1:00pm PDT

Come chat in a Q&A Session with Indie Game Designer and programmer Jason Rohrer!

Please submit any questions ahead of time by sending a Metamail to Cuppycake!

In 2007, Rohrer created the free indie game Passage, which received mainstream media coverage for its depiction of mortality and the tradeoffs of married life in an interactive experience.

Rohrer releases all his software for free download under the GNU GPL or into the public domain and tries to earn his living via donations from the users of his software. However, he does charge for the iPhone ports of his games.

He creates a game a month for The Escapist. His fifth game, Between, is hosted by Esquire Magazine as an adjunct to Rohrer’s profile in the December 2008 issue.

Rohrer’s latest game, Primrose, was released on February 19, 2009. It is a departure from the art-game theme, and is a simple puzzle game. He is currently working on a game for the Nintendo DS to be published by Majesco in 2010. It is a strategy game “about diamond trading in Angola on the eve of the passage of the Kimberly Process.”

Previous Projects:
konspire2b: a pseudonymous channel-based file-distribution system
token word: a Xanadu-style text editing system
tangle: a proxy server which tries to find relationships between websites a user visits.
MUTE: a file sharing network with anonymity in mind.
Monolith: a thought experiment that might be relevant to digital copyright. This has expanded to a computer program implemented on his ideas.
seedBlogs: a modular building block that lets you add PHP and MySQL-backed dynamic content to any website.
silk: a web-based hypertext system to simplify web page linking. Similar to wiki markup.
hyperlit: a literary hypertext authoring system.
subreal: a distributed evolution system.

Read more here:


Game talkGreat article on indie biz

 Posted by (Visited 7605 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , , , ,
Aug 042009

Jeff Ward has a great article on Gamasutra about the viability of the indie scene these days, which ties right back into the recent blog post on new bosses and old bosses. He analyzes iPhone, XBLA, and PC markets, as well as the alternative funding model of getting investors in advance for a title.

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