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21 Mar 2014

Factors in Pricing Your Indie Game

You want to be paid properly for your hard work – that’s a given, right? Nobody wants to work hard on their indie game without earning a dime. There is nothing worse than releasing a game only to see no one is purchasing your game, so what can you do to ensure you are properly getting paid for the development of your game? Here are some factors that will come into play when deciding how to properly price your indie game.


How many people have you hired?

This is the big one. Because you are outsourcing at least part of the game development process, you have an idea as to how much money you have spent hiring people to develop your game. Of course, you want to at least make this amount back, though that shouldn’t be your goal (you should strive to go beyond simply ‘breaking even’). Yet this gives you an idea as to what your first goal should be with your indie game: earning your money back.

So you have a solid number detailing how much you have spent on outsourcing. Great. Now you need to also consider the amount of time you have spent developing the game, working with your outsourced workers, honing the game, and marketing the game. This begs the question of how important your time is to you, and there really is no easy answer.

As an example, let’s assume that you have spent a few hundred hours in the last month getting a mobile game ready for launch day. If you are releasing a premium priced game, ask yourself the following:

“Am I comfortable with my mobile game being $0.99? $1.99?”

Conduct research for games in your niche as well. What are those games priced at? Do you still feel as if you should increase the amount? Decrease it? Surround yourself with information and again, think about how valuable your time is to you?


“How much do I potentially want to earn – and how quickly?”

Your marketing efforts will go a long way in deciding this. How aggressive have your marketing efforts been thus far? How aggressive will they be? How successful have they been thus far, and how successful do you estimate they will be?

This is why it is so important to market your game the moment your indie game begins to have some substance (i.e. something gamers can get excited about). Aligning your marketing campaigns with the development of your indie game will allow you to have an idea regarding how many people are interested in your indie game, and thus how many people may potentially buy your game as well.

Answer this question for yourself:

“How much do I want to earn, and in what span of time?”

Do you want to break even within six months or a year? Calculating how many potential buyers you may have (or how many buyers you want to have), do your part to figure out your monthly/weekly earnings goal. Using your current marketing efforts, what price would you need to place your indie game in order to achieve this goal?

Of course, you need to figure in the maximum price you can set your indie game. With your genre’s competition in mind, look at their premium priced games. Is yours higher? Lower? Again, do research.


What are your achievements thus far?

This also plays a huge part in the price you can set your indie game. Think about it from a player’s perspective: how many people are going to spend $4 on a game from an unknown indie developer? If this is your first rodeo, consider making your premium priced game as inexpensive as possible and ramping up your marketing efforts to break even/make a profit (whatever your earning goal is). If you have a few games under your belt (and hopefully have a decent following), you have a little more freedom in pricing your game.

Look at 868-HACK as an example. Developer Michael Brough discovered that with his first few mobile games, he needed to price them relatively low, but after he had a few good games under his belt? He released 868-HACK for $5.99 (an expensive price by mobile game standards), and ended up outselling his other games within the first month alone.

It has all paid off for him in the long run, but to be able to sell game for a higher-than-average price (and ensure people were going to buy), he had to sell a few good inexpensive games. That’s why evaluating your achievements and basing them around the proper pricing of your indie game is so important.

In the end, you want to find ‘the middle ground.’ What price can you set your game to earn the maximum profit possible? Again, do research on your competition and evaluate your own successes to discover a proper beginning price for your indie game. And if in doubt? Ask your peers. There isn’t an easy answer to this question as every situation is different, but with enough self-evaluation, pre-planning, and research among your competitors, you can find the answer for yourself.

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