Market

[翻譯] Jeff Ward/Analysis: Is There Money To Be Made In Indie Games?


譯按:本篇文章是Jeff Ward在2009發表在gamasutra.com的文章,其中探討了獨立遊戲資金的困境。非常值得獨立遊戲開發者好好思考。

原文網址:
http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=24686

Analysis: Is There Money To Be Made In Indie Games?
獨立遊戲經濟學

by Jeff Ward
August 4, 2009

[In this in-depth Gamasutra analysis, veteran game developer Jeff Ward crunches the numbers to craft a sobering look at the realities of independent game development business models.]
Gamasutra深度分析,資深遊戲開發者Jeff Ward撥開獨立遊戲開發的經濟模型的帳幕並告訴我們冷酷的現實。

I’m looking at releasing an Xbox Live Indie Game in the next few months. Recently, along with colleague Darius Kazemi, I started doing a little bit of math about indie game numbers, and it’s gotten me wondering whether you can actually support yourself, and a company, on indie games — indie, in this case, meaning a smallish team experimenting with interesting gameplay concepts and styles.
我目前(2009)正準備在數個月內釋出一款Xbox Live Indie Game。我與同事Darius Kazemi一起進行了一些關於獨立遊戲的商業數字分析,想要知道是否這樣的商業模型能夠支撐自己,團隊,與開發商。這裡講的獨立(indie)的意思就是一個極小規模又充滿實驗性質的遊戲開發團隊。

Now, I understand that since this deals more with money than passion, it may end up alienating me from the indie community, but as a developer I want to see small experimental games flourish, and I want to see those people developing them do well for themselves. This analysis questions whether or not that’s even possible under our current thoughts and models.
我必須了解麵包比熱情重要的事實,而且體認這份報告的結果可能使我轉向離開獨立遊戲社群的事實,但是身為一個遊戲開發者我想要看到這些實驗性質的獨立遊戲繼續茂盛成長,我想要看見這社群能夠自給自足。因此這個分析報告就是想要知道這個經濟模型是否能夠運作。

We’ve been seeing recently a number of small game companies really hitting a wall when it comes to funding. Introversion had a post on their blog about their money problems, and Mommy’s Best Games, though still pushing ahead, made it clear that the numbers on Weapon of Choice were not good.
我們最近都知道一些小遊戲公司在募集資金方面遇到瓶頸。Introversion這間公司貼出一些關於他們公司資金的問題,Mommy’s Best Games發表的新遊戲Weapon of Choice反應也不夠好。

* Introversion( http://www.introversion.co.uk/ ) (遊戲定價在15~30美金)
* Mommy’s Best Games( http://www.mommysbestgames.com/ ) (Weapon of Choice是Xbox Live的遊戲)

We’ve had rants from game players about alternative funding models and suggestions from Gabe Newell about public funding for games. What can we take from all of this? What can we do for funding models?
從遊戲玩家那裡傳來的抱怨關於資金募集的方案以及Gabe Newell所提出的關於公開募捐資金的建議。我們都有聽到,也正在思考這個問題。

* Gabe_Newell ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabe_Newell )
Valve Corporation公司遊戲與數位散佈部門的執行長

This whole thing starts with one piece of information: How many copies of a single game does a developer need to sell per year in order to support themselves? Let’s start at a baseline of $40,000 per year for a single developer. This may sound like a lot for indie developers and, let’s face it, it really is. But it should be a pretty good baseline number, for a lot of reasons. Include taxation and taking into account health insurance costs and the possibility of supporting any person other than yourself, and $40k starts to sound pretty slim.
這錢的問題歸根究底就是一款遊戲一年可以必須賣幾套才能養活一個遊戲開發者?一年四萬美金(一百二十萬台幣)的銷售額是一個基本的底限。聽起來很多。實際上對獨立開發者來說真的很多。因為這數字包含稅,健康保險,以及他要養活的那家子。因此這筆錢其實沒那麼足夠。

Now we need to figure in loss to distributors. Let’s ignore distributors with upfront costs and approval processes, such as Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and WiiWare, because even developing for these services usually requires either an already-proven game or proven team, and we’re assuming neither. This leaves us with iPhone, PC (in various forms, two of which we’ll focus on), and Xbox Live Indie Games. For each platform, you need to look at distribution numbers, likely price points, and gross income, meaning the income after your distributor has taken its fair share.
然後把被通道商剝削的錢算進去。這邊先不考慮Xbox Live Arcade,PlayStation Network,與WiiWare這種需要預付資金或是開發資格需要被審核的通路,因為要被准許開發這種遊戲通常都要有一定的基礎(已經發表過夠資格的前作)。因此選擇只剩下iPhone,PC,與Xbox Live Indie Games。本文接下來就是要對各通路計算那些可能的發售數字,點數的價錢,被通道商抽成之後的總收入。

iPhone

Let’s start with the newest (and, by all accounts, sexiest) guy on the block, the iPhone. Most apps on the iPhone sell for $.99 to $3, with Apple taking 30 percent off the top. Selling on the iPhone is really all about staying new, staying fresh, and staying on top of the most popular list. In order to do that, you need to stay at the lower price points to encourage impulse buys. That means staying at around $.99 for as long as possible.
我們從當紅炸子機開始。大部分在iPhone上的應用程式都賣0.99到3美金(30到90台幣),Apple會拿走30%。要在這個平台上賣就是要保持新鮮,也就是保持在架子的最上方。為了達到高曝光率,只好盡量削價來搶購買數。我們列出各定價要滿足我們前一段假設(四萬美金)一年所必須銷售的數字

Here are the numbers:

Price   Developer Cut   Sales Needed

$1     $.70             57,000/year

$2     $1.40             28,500/year

$3     $2.10             19,000/year

$5     $3.50             11,400/year

So at the largely standard rate of $1, a single developer needs to push 57,000 copies of a game per year in order to support himself, or to push multiple applications which can reach that number. With the number of iPhones on the market somewhere around 6 to 10 million, how many sales can you expect? Mac Rumors reports that four apps easily hit almost a million sales, but what’s the data like for games, and indie games at that?
假設定價在1美金,那麼一年得被五萬七千人次所下載,或是有多個產品累積到這個數字,才能養活自己。市場的大小大概是六百到一千萬隻iPhone。Mac Rumors的報告顯示有四個"應用程式"到達百萬套銷售紀錄,但是若是單看遊戲類型的應用程式或是獨立開發的遊戲呢?

* Mac Rumors reports :
http://www.macrumors.com/2009/04/13/all-time-top-iphone-app-sales-figures-and-estimates/

The most telling post probably comes from the developer of Dapple, who wrote a very long post on how much money he actually made on the product; he has sold a total of about 500 copies. In addition, this post on the price of apps versus their popularity shows very few indie games in the list and very little money being made, Fieldrunners (essentially an App Store Launch Title) being the notable exception.
Dapple的開發者發表了一篇有說服力的報告,說明他們從Dapple這個產品賺了多少錢。這個產品賣出五百份。
雖然這份關於apps商城價格的報告很有名但卻顯示非常少的獨立開發商在這個清單上,而且也賺很少錢。不過Fieldrunners則是值得注意的例外。

Dapple ( http://www.148apps.com/reviews/dapple/ ) 寶石方塊類型的遊戲
Fieldrunners ( http://fieldrunners.com/ ) 塔防類型的遊戲

The Numbers Post: Part 2 : http://www.streamingcolour.com/blog/2009/04/27/the-numbers-post-part-2/

Price and Popularity: The iPhone App Store’s Data Show Who’s Making The Most Money :
http://www.mobileorchard.com/price-and-popularity-the-iphone-app-stores-data-shows-whos-making-the-big-money/

Fieldrunners
http://fieldrunners.com/

Is it possible to be an indie and loved on the App Store? Only indies who have accomplished this can tell you, but 57,000 copies is a really hard number to hit with something interesting or experimental.
獨立開發遊戲有可能在App Store受歡迎嗎?我們得找那些成功人士來問問。但是用單純只是有趣或是實驗性質的題材賣出五萬七千套可不是這麼簡單的事情。

Xbox Live Indie Games

So what about Xbox Live Indie Games? Their developer cuts are exactly the same, although the $2 price point doesn’t exist, and the highest amount you can charge is $5. Until recently, $2.50 was the lowest you could charge, requiring about 22,800 copies to be sold per year. Unfortunately, sales figures came up very short for most developers. Total download rates are low, as Indie Games were hard to find on the dashboard until recently, and good apps are very hard to find, so I believe most people have been ignoring the service entirely.
條件相同,那麼平台換到XBox的獨立遊戲如何?抽成是一樣的。雖然沒有賣兩美金等值微軟點數的產品,但是最高的產品售價可以到五塊美金。若以最常見的低價兩塊半美金為計算單位,要達到相同的水準每年要賣出兩萬兩千八百套。很不幸地,大部分產品銷售期通常很短,下載率也不高,在之前獨立遊戲也很難衝上主機上會隨選出現的遊戲清單。甚至我猜測很多玩家根本不不知道商城有賣這種遊戲。

Sales for most games topped at probably around 5,000 copies since launch, far from the required 22,000 to support a single developer.
發表後五千個下載是很好的表現,但是差兩萬二還有一段距離。

PC

Finally we come to PC. On the PC, you can expect to be able to charge more, but sales numbers tend to be lower and more is expected of a finished product. Games average anywhere from $5 to $30, even from indie developers. Hosting it on your own or through Steam, you get more of the pie. Steam unfortunately doesn’t publish numbers, but PayPal does, and we can use it as a baseline. Assuming that you’re looking to get above $40,000 here, we’re going to use PayPal’s range for $10,000 to $100,000, which is 2.2 percent + $.30 per transaction.
最後是個人電腦平台,定價可以較彈性,但是下載率更低,玩家更不喜歡半成品。售價通常在五美金到三十美金之間,通路可以自行維護或是透過Steam平台,被剝削的比例比較低。Steam很可惜沒有公佈抽成的數字,但是Paypal有,所以就拿來當基準。我們要找的是每年銷售四萬美金這個點,所以我們鎖定一萬到十萬這個級距(註),那麼就是抽成2.2%附加0.3美金的手續費。(每筆100美金交易抽2.5美金。)

Steam ( http://store.steampowered.com/ )
Paypal ( https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_wp-standard-overview-outside )

註:這邊我跟Jeff求證過,他那時算錯了,Paypal的級距是以月來算,也就是一年四萬美金一個月應該是三千三,也就是應該降到3000~10000這個級距。

Price   Developer Cut   Sales Needed

$5     $4.59             9,000/year

$10     $9.48             4,000/year

$15     $14.37             2,800/year

$20     $19.56             2,000/year

$30     $29.04             1,400/year

Looking at these numbers, it’s almost obvious why most successful indie developers start on PC. Even with the PC market shrinking (this talk from GDC shows that you can expect PC sales numbers in the hundreds of copies, thousands if you’re lucky), you get to keep a lot more of your money, and the audience is self-selecting. People interested in indie games tend to have PCs and may buy your game.
數字會說話,這也解釋了為什麼獨立開發都從個人電腦平台開始發跡。即便個人電腦的市場在萎縮(GDC研討會說明了獨立開發銷售百套是普通,上千套就是幸運了)那些喜歡而且有機會買獨立遊戲的玩家通常有個人電腦平台上。

Independent Games Sales: Stats 101
http://www.slideshare.net/simoniker/independent-games-sales-stats-101

(A note to pirates: Look at those numbers and see how much you’re taking from that developer, and the numbers each developer has to hit before even becoming profitable. That, more than anything, should make you think twice about piracy.)
對於盜版:想想看這種數字真的會被盜版商看上嗎?(在大賣之前都不用擔心盜版)

Hitting these numbers is possible, but not probable. It’s quite obvious, to me, from these numbers why most successful indie devs are one man shops, making fairly quick games. This model doesn’t scale to multiple developers, and definitely not for multiple years.
要達到這個數字可行,但是不一定簡單。這就是為何成功的獨立開發都是一人工作室,這樣規模的收益只容許開發一個人也很好開發的遊戲。這種開發模式卻不容易擴大規模也沒辦法持續好幾年。

Alternative Funding Models

So what about Gabe’s suggestion of running a “stock market" for games where you can invest in projects, get a game out of it, and possibly see a little bit from the net profits off? So far, we’ve seen a commission system partially work.
那Gabe說的建議:創造一個以遊戲為標的的證券市場如何?你可以投資那些還在成長的專案,看看能不能持續有淨營利(net profit)?還有人真的在這樣幹。

Gabe’s suggestion
http://gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=24502

commission system
http://www.ludomancy.com/blog/downloads/

net profit
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_profit

Let’s assume that for these systems, we’re talking about multi-developer, multi-year projects. Still talking indie, let’s assume four developers over a year and a half. Not taking into account taxes, office space, servers, or anything else, this totals $240,000 that needs to be raised over the course of a year and a half.
如果是這種(可以被投資並收益的)規模,這種規模的大小,可以假設開發團隊有四位成員,不計算稅,辦公租金,伺服器然後開發一年半,這樣大概需要二十四萬美金(40k*1.5*4,七百二十萬台幣)。

Though this is potentially possible, there are other concerns. If a person invests in this game with a promise of returns on the net profits (after other expenses and taxes), he needs to understand the risks involved. After all, if a game company never hits that $240,000 number, and can’t survive long enough to complete the game, that money is lost. Attached to this is the idea of due diligence. Each investor is now an investor in your game, and has possible legal rights. If you just take the money and never finish the game, they might be able to sue you. What is there in place to protect the investor and the developer if this happens?
這似乎是可以達到的,但是其他的考量也得想清楚。投資者投資在你的團隊或專案上,就是希望持續有營利。它也必須了解風險,如果這二十四萬美金沒有到位,也就是團隊沒有辦法做完遊戲,這資金也就如同丟到水溝。相反地拿了錢就該做事。投資者對他的錢也當然有百分百的權力,獨立開發者若是拿了錢卻沒有完成工作,投資者可能會真的找人(法官)把你勒死。如何維持兩端的平衡是很重要的。

Provided these legal issues could be worked out, how much net profit would you be looking at losing, and how much would you charge for each point of net profit? What would developers look to gain, and what would investors look to gain?
意思是投資者與該發商該如何(以某種比例的方式)去分享淨利,或是如何去承擔損失。

First, let’s start with a game that sells about 20,000 copies at $20 each on PC using the numbers above. We’re assuming these are good games that have a following, otherwise they wouldn’t have been funded in the first place. That totals $391,000 in revenue on the game, and let’s assume for argument’s sake that we have $41,000 in expenses for the game. That leaves us with $350,000. Assuming we split to end up getting the funding we need, here’s what the graph looks like:
假定我們賣出了兩萬份售價各為二十美金的遊戲軟體。假定產品不錯,有固定支持者,否則一開始恐怕就找不到資金。所以回收就是三十九萬一千美金(扣掉手續費19.56*20000)。假定為了拓展通路我們花費了四萬一千。意思就是剩下三十五萬,然後我們用下面這張表來分錢。

Percentage of   Valve of each  Total      Revenue to   Revenue    Revenue to
net available   point net      invested   investors    per point  developers

70%             $3500          $245,000   $245,000     $3,500     $105,000

60%             $4000          $240,000   $210,000     $3,500     $110,000

50%             $5000          $250,000   $125,000     $2,500     $125,000

30%             $8000          $240,000   $105,000     $3,500     $245,000

That’s pretty grim. Only in the 70 percent case do the investors come out just breaking even, and the developers have enough to fund half of their next game. Is it possible? Maybe. But is it worth it for the investors? How many times will an investor lose most of their money from games that aren’t finished, or games that don’t break 20,000 to 30,000 copies before they just kind of give up investing? How much work is required of developers just to set up the legalities to make sure they don’t get sued, and their investors don’t get screwed?
事實是很殘酷的,只有70%入股(註)的算法其利潤可以讓投資者損益兩平,然後開發者也可以拿到下年度開發所需一半的資金。也許可以做到,但是投資者會認為這樣值得嗎?遊戲還沒賣出的時候投資者抽手時也沒辦法把產品拆給他。如何避免投資者對開發團隊興訟,同時投資標的也不會整組害了了。

註:這邊表格是一個投資者計算報酬的投資條件,每股多少錢乘以公司賣出多少比例的股份,就是投資者投入的資金(也就是公司募集的資金)假如整個公司視為100股,以70%為例就是70股,若是每一股賣$3500圓就可以募集到足夠的資金($245000),然後獲利350000乘以70%就是股東可以拿到的錢也就是$245000扣掉之後就是開發者能拿到的資金。

Another funding model for indie devs is to keep titles relevant from year to year, maintaining sales of the title up while you work on the next title, and into your third. By keeping these games selling, you can start to see actual profits. However, this also means consistently releasing games year after year, and surviving until these games come out. This takes a lot of startup capital, or at least the ability or desire to eat ramen for years on end, with only the smallest chance of reward.
另一個獨立開發營運模式就是不計獲利保持名聲,持續拓展知名度直到真的有一款遊戲能有實質獲利為止。然而這需要一筆很大的預備資金來燒,如同在羊腸小徑上前進。

Conclusion
結論

These numbers make it really obvious to me why most indie (and, in some cases, non-indie) business models exist, and why they produce the games they produce. To be successful, you need to be in one of a few situations:
我們討論這數字讓我們知道這些獨立開發的經濟模型,以及開發這樣的產品的原因。總和來講要成功就可能是以下幾種類型:

– A single developer who makes a good title (Crayon Physics developer Petri Purho, for example)
– A single or set of developers with short release cycles to keep multiple games relivant over short periods of time (almost all iPhone developers)
– A developer who has an already-popular game and is able to get on one of the more visible services like Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, or WiiWare (thatgamecompany, The Behemoth, 2D Boy, Number None)
-單人有名聲的開發者(譯按:如東方系列)。
-單人或小組能夠快速開發小型的遊戲。
-開發者已經開發過有名的作品,然後用獨立開發在那些商城作其他方向的拓展。

This is why indie games experiment the way they do — shorten the development cycle, concentrate on mechanics and prototypes, keep art resources and requirements low, release lots of games quickly. There needs to be more available. I’m sure there are indies out there that want to experiment with things that take longer development cycles — weird dynamics, involved dynamic art styles, strange narrative structure — but can’t for survivability reasons, and that’s a damned shame.
縮短開發週期,專注在遊戲運作機制與原型,減少對美術的需求,可以迅速鋪貨。我相信一定有那些獨立開發想要花更長的時間做實驗性質的事情,如奇怪的物理模擬,整合動態美術風格,特殊的遊戲敘述結構,但是那些實驗要素並不是在存活的必要點,而且如果失敗了,會很糗。

So maybe there’s not a good living to be made in indie games. Even with alternative money sources, it doesn’t look like you can sustain a business, even of a small number of developers, without targeting AAA numbers, which seems to have a quality bar that almost requires a AAA team.
即使有這些資金募集的管道,也許獨立開發並不是一門可以養活一組人的好生意,除非你能用獨立開發作出那些一流團隊的水準。

Obviously, the math that is wrong somewhere, as we’ve seen success stories happen, but is it worth it for me (or anyone else) to attempt the struggle when the reward seems to be mostly more struggle? Is there an answer I’m missing? Is there money to be made, or even survivability, in remaining truly independent? If there is, can it be done with more models than what we have now?
回過頭來,這些數據跟事實都是我們假設的,我們還是看到那些成功案例一個個冒出來,但是去了解是否更努力就能成功是很重要的。去了解在獨立開發領域是否有更多我們不知道的賺錢方式,營運模型,或是生存能力也是很重要的。

[Jeff Ward is a professional game middleware programmer, amateur game designer, armchair media theorist, and user interface speculator. He is currently the Lead Architect at Orbus Gameworks, providing metrics middleware to game companies, and is currently looking at releasing his first independent title to Xbox Live Indie Games, apparently for very little reward.]
Jeff Ward是一個職業的遊戲層軟體程式設計師,業餘的遊戲設計者,前衛的媒體理論家,以及使用者介面研究者。擔任過Orbus Gameworks的軟體架構主任,該公司提供軟體層服務給遊戲商,也正準備在XBox商城釋出試水溫的遊戲。目前轉職到Fire Hose Games.擔任遊戲程式設計員。

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