How Successful Indie Devs Deal With Getting Rich

Illustration for article titled How Successful Indie Devs Deal With Getting Rich

You know what they say...more money more problems. Or, more accurately, the more money you have, the more likely you are to think about how you earned it, how you should use it, and how it changes your relationships.

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Today, The New Yorker's Simon Parkin published a fascinating article about millionaire indie developers, and it details how they spend and feel about the money they acquire after their games make it big.

For example, Rami Ismail of Vlambeer—which you might know for Ridiculous Fishing or Luftrausers—described feeling guilt after seeing how much money Ridiculous Fishing made on the first day it was on sale.

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"Ever since I was a kid I've watched my mom wake up at six in the morning, work all day, come home, make my brother and me dinner—maybe shout at me for too much 'computering,' " he recalls. "My first thought that day was that while I was asleep I'd made more money than she had all year. And I'd done it with a mobile-phone game about shooting fish with a machine gun."

This, in spite of knowing that he did work hard for the money. Money makes things complicated like that, sometimes. There is also stigma about certain types of work being worth more than others, and there's certainly a stigma about games being frivolous—which can make it easy to see why someone might feel guilty about becoming rich through video games, even if they've arguably earned their success.

Another developer, Davey Wreden—who is behind The Stanley Parable—decided that if his game was successful, he'd go out and buy the cheapest and most expensive salmon with the intention of cooking them both. The idea is to conduct a taste test to see if the difference in cost was justified or not. After the game sold six hundred thousand copies, he ended up buying a ping pong table—an still plans on doing the salmon experiment at some point as well.

You should give the entire thing a read here, it's fascinating—you'll learn about how developers like Jonathan Blow is putting all his money into The Witness without worrying about whether or not it'll recoup costs, and how Edmund McMillen of Super Meat Boy worries that people have the wrong idea about games being a quick and easy way to get rich.

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DISCUSSION

ThePalmtopTiger
The Palmtop Tiger

This, in spite of knowing that he did work hard for the money. Money makes things complicated like that, sometimes. There is also stigma about certain types of work being worth more than others, and there's certainly a stigma about games being frivolous—which can make it easy to see why someone might feel guilty about becoming rich through video games, even if they've arguably earned their success.

This line of thinking is irksome to me. While video games are certainly frivolous, they are no more so than film, music, fictional literature, or any other creative medium; don't even get me started on professional sports. Successful writers and composers however are remembered well beyond their lifespan, film directors are held in high regard by most members of society, and athletes are revered. The humble video game developers however might get recognition within their own field, but their successes are often forgotten by the masses after there is a flop and that recognition rarely extends beyond their fans. Not only are video game developers not recognized by the vast majority of the population, but they're completely faceless to most people and as such rarely get praised the same way that an actor or film director might.