In his spare time over the course of a year, Matt Rix bought two laptops, paid Apple a little cash and made a video game called Trainyard. That's all it took to develop one of the year's biggest video games.
Released in June to little fanfare, it was only when Trainyard was featured on the launch page of Apple's App Store in October that the game's fortunes took off. While he won't disclose just how much money he's pulled in, Rix says that "sales have dropped off considerably from where they were a couple months ago, but they're still substantial. I've raised the price back up to $2.99, and I'm currently selling approximately 600 copies per day."
With Apple taking 30% of each sale, that's $1255 a day that Rix is making, and that's after "sales have dropped off considerably". So a few months back, he was making a lot more.
That would be a great story were game development his full-time job, but like we said, Rix isn't a full-time game developer. He works at a developer that makes iDevice applications for businesses, with Trainyard being a passion project he worked on in his spare time and on the commute to and from work.
Following on from the success of the game, which at its peak was selling more than 2010's standout iDevice game Angry Birds, Rix has been able to chase his dreams and will next month be opening his own game studio, where among his first batch of ideas is "a platforming game that's like Canabalt mixed with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater."
The story of course has parallels with another of the year's indie success stories, Minecraft, whose creator Markus Persson has put the massive profits generated from his humble little game into founding a game studio.
The difference here, though, is that Minecraft is a big game, which needs maintenance, and is a big undertaking for Persson. Trainyard? It's as simple as games get.