Dungeons & Dollars

Dungeons & Dollars
Casual Fortunes

Allen Varney | 30 Aug 2005 12:00
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Casual Means Hard Work
Yes, it's definitely possible to get rich in casual games. In fact, though, most newcomers fail dismally. The many reasons include lack of patience, lack of originality (the world doesn't need another Breakout clone), and lack of marketing.

A designer's priorities in creating and selling casual games are completely different from hardcore games: small file size, low platform requirements, sloooow growth (shareware publisher Steve Pavlina advises a 5- to 10-year strategy), ongoing active marketing, and frequent, numerous iterations of the same game. On the Indie Gamer Developer Forums, Steve Verreault of Twilight Software advised, "Don't just release your game once. Release it four or five times. Keep looking at what the users are saying and make improvements to the game. Tweak the demo. If you put it out and it doesn't sell, rework it. That's the beauty of shareware. You didn't print 50,000 CDs - you can release it again and again, and it can keep selling for years."

Most successful casual designers stress the hard work and shrewd marketing that made their games popular. But just as often, they cite virtues of the indie approach that have nothing to do with getting rich. In a May 2003 blog entry Warfield wrote, "Being a shareware author is the greatest job in the world. You can work at home, so you avoid a daily commute to an office. You are your own boss. You have all the benefits of owning your own business. You can work or not work whenever it is convenient. But the best thing about being a shareware author is that you have customers who choose to be customers. [...] you know that only people who really actually like the game are buying it, so you know your work must be good. The end result is that it is a much more fulfilling job."

Allen Varney is a freelance writer and game designer based in Austin, Texas. His published work includes six books, three board games, and nearly two
dozen role-playing game supplements.

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