Every month, thousands of mobile games are submitted to the App Store. And they’re being played, too. Mobile gaming makes up 16% of the worldwide total gaming revenue, and this will only continue to grow. Mobile games revenue was $17.5 billion in 2013, and is expected to be doubled to $35.4 billion by 2017. So its not surprising that everyone is trying to get foot on the ground in the mobile gaming industry.
In this article we’ll take a look at how to differentiate yourself as an independent game developer, and, more importantly, how you become successful.
Study the good games, but also the bad ones
Most people only study successful games. But it’s also wise to learn from the mistakes from other game developers, and take a look at the bad ones. Ask yourself what makes a game bad, and you will know what not to do.
Increase your output
The more you try, the bigger your chances at success, so start off with simple games that can be published within six to eight weeks. This gives you the opportunity to try out different ideas and concepts, and it will also be a nice addition to your portfolio.
Don’t underestimate design
A clean, well thought-out design, a good app name and a good-looking icon increases the chance that your game will be featured in the App Store.
Everything is easier when you’re passionate about it
When you’re thinking about concepts for a new game, pick something that you’re passionate about. Something you can create with so much conviction, that the time and energy you put into will just radiate off. The best independent game developers would still be creating games even if they never got paid to do it.
Make sure your game is worth the effort
It may sound contradicting compared to the aforementioned tip, but aside from being passionate about your game, you should also be critical. Analyze the market and your competitors, so you’ll know whether or not your game is worth building.
Keep It Simple, Stupid! No matter how complex the technique is behind what you create, on the front-end everything should be easy. Users should be able to figure out instantly how it works. Create something intuitive.
Don’t give up
As a game developer, you have to be persistent. The best games took years to develop. As long as you’re passionate about your game and keep your focus, you can succeed. Always keep an open mind and try to keep learning, so you can continually work on improving your creation.
You don’t need investors
Game developers working with investors often find that it takes all the fun out of their project. Instead, choose to build your game in your spare time. Stay independent, build something useful, and you’ll eventually be able to put all the profits into your own pocket.
Befriend a nerd. Or two.
Without solid coding your game won’t have a backbone. But game developers with awesome ideas don’t always have the technical knowledge they need to make their game a reality. Or the money to hire someone who does. The most ideal situation would be to have a technical co-founder, or a small team of tech-savvy people in the room with you.
It’s okay if it doesn’t happen immediately
Patience is everything, and it’s never too late to build a successful game. Just focus on problem solving solutions.
Do one thing really, really well
You can’t please everyone, but always try do to done one thing really, really well. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something substantial.
Know where your potential users are
You could build the best game ever, but if you don’t know how to get it out there, it will never become a success. Figure out where your potential users are and do your research on what the best ways are to distribute your game.
Define your goals
This one requires you to be extremely honest with yourself. Ask yourself why you want to build a mobile game. Do you want to give people an escape? Change the world? Create a portfolio so you can get a well-paid job? Whatever your goals are, being able to clearly define them will help you to find the right direction.
Just do it
Overthinking won’t do you any good, especially when you’re just starting out as an independent game developer. Once you have a good idea, just get started. This will give you the experience of actually developing your first game and getting it out there. The rest will come.
Believe in your idea
When you have an idea, take some time to figure out what you are willing to invest to make that idea become a reality. Do your homework. And then just jump in. You don’t need anyone’s approval except your own.
Get inspired by other successful game developers
Check out the stories from other successful game developers, such as Matt Hall (developer of Crossy Roads), the Marsh brothers (Nimblebit) and Dong Nguyen (Flabby Bird). Get inspired and use that inspiration to fuel your game!