Games Game June 2010
No Experience (June 2010)
I am an entrepreneur and I have a really cool idea for a game-like product. It would be available on Xbox Live and PSN. I am sure it would be quite easy to get the funding to expand, once I have created a demo.
The dilemma is, I have no idea about how to create a game or what is involved. I am assuming this is not something terribly complicated. I am really not sure of the level of talent needed. I am new to all of this.
My specialty is sales and marketing. I'm not a technical person and I have no experience in the business of games. So I need another person, a fellow entrepreneur that is willing to share in the risks and jump in with both feet. The pay will be a percentage of what the product sells.
Maybe it is a shot in the dark, but every journey starts with a single step. I guess this is that step. How would I go about getting the product developed?
If you're really an entrepreneur, then you should know that you have to pay for professional help with your projects. You can't expect pros to work with you gratis in expectation of future royalties. Come on, get real. From a business perspective, you're not ready to take on this project until you've written a solid business plan, gotten funding lined up, and are ready to pay people to work on your project.
In the business plan, you'll outline not only all the costs involved in making the project, but also full details of how your business will make money.
One game, of course, is not enough. What you need is a business -- a way of making money from multiple games. In the course of writing this portion of your business plan, you need to do a lot of reading. I was listening to the Dave Ramsey show on the radio the other day, and he said what I say about this: "Read, read, read." He named three books I'd never heard of. But looking deeper into them, I agree that these should be on your list:
- "Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us," by Seth Godin;
- "Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life," by Spencer Johnson;
- "Guerrilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business," by Jay Conrad Levinson.
Since you're already a marketing whiz, you might have already read that latter one. Or you might think you don't have to read it. Well, read it anyway while writing your business plan. And subscribe to the free daily IndustryGamers newsletter, and subscribe to Game Developer magazine, and make the Gamasutra website a regular hangout. Two more books I recommend:
- "Secrets of the Game Business," by Francois Dominic Larramee;
- "Introduction to Game Development," by Steve Rabin.
Let me close with a few more points Dave Ramsey brought up during that same segment.
- Be a tortoise, not a hare. Don't try to rush it. Take time to read and plan thoroughly;
- The venture will probably cost twice as much as you think;
- It will probably take twice as much time as you think;
- And no, you are not the exception.
Please note that there is no guarantee that Tom will be able to respond to all the questions he receives. It is up to his discretion which questions he uses for this column. For further advice and resources, check out the IGDA's discussion forums, the Breaking In web site and the Students & Newbies Outreach section.
Tom Sloper's game biz career began over twenty years ago at Western Technologies, where he designed LCD games and the Vectrex games "Spike" and "Bedlam". There followed stints at Sega Enterprises, Rudell Design, Atari Corporation, and Activision. In 12 years at Activision, Tom produced 36 unique game titles (plus innumerable ports and localizations), designed four games, and won five awards. Tom worked for several months in Activision's Japan operation, in Tokyo. He is perhaps best known for designing, managing and producing Activision's "Shanghai" line. He is currently consulting, writing, speaking, teaching, and developing original games. Find out more at Sloperama.
© 2010 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.