I’ve been pulling together a lot of research on the market for my game this week and have started to piece together a business plan. As an indie game developer, my goal has always been to self-publish via digital distribution and without giving any share in the business away. I want to raise enough money from my first game to expand the current team of three into something larger, and then work on a bigger project. To do that, I need to raise funding for the first game without putting myself in debt or giving any percentage of the profits away. It’s a tall order, but one I think is very possible because of two things:
Invest NI: I live in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where there are programmes set up to financially support start-up businesses. I’ll easily qualify for grants and loans with extremely good repayment schemes that won’t leave me liable for the debt if the game doesn’t sell. I have a meeting on Monday 20th with one of the free business advisors we have here, and will soon find out what support is available. A friend of a friend pulled over £100,000 out of investors and grant programmes on good terms through this. As I’ve projected costs at a fraction of that, I’m feeling very positive about it.
Crowdsourced funding: This has really taken off in the past few years, with Kickstarter.com leading the crowd and a few others lagging far behind. People pledge money to support a project in exchange for perks like a free copy of the game, concept art, music, t-shirts, unique DLC etc. When you think about it, this acts as a zero-risk pre-order system for indie games currently in development. I plan to launch a campaign once I have enough gameplay and graphics to show off and really make an impression.
Previous projects of this type have managed to pull about $18,000 to $38,000, so I’m feeling confident that if I take my time and put together a solid campaign I’ll get what I need. The main problem is that Kickstarter is US-only and I’ll have to find a US partner and work out the tax issues surrounding it. Hopefully this is something Invest NI can help with, as they have dedicated advisors for businesses competing in a global market (like the games industry).