How Much Money Do Indie Games Make? [2021]

So you are about to release your indie 
game and all that goes through your mind is:   How will my game do? Is it going to 
sell? How much money will I make?
  The best way to get an idea is by following other 
indie games and learning from their experience.   In this video, we'll take a look at several 
indie game revenues and look at how much   revenue the developers actually made – some 
an estimate and some to the actual dollar.   All the devs that made this list have 
been very open with their numbers,   putting them out in Steam posts, dev blogs, 
and even videos. We love this practice as   it gives other indie developers better chances at 
achieving successful launches of their own.
  We are Ask Gamedev and these are 6 
Real Examples of Indie Game Revenues
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  First up on our list, THE hugely successful 
Norse mythology-inspired phenomenon:   Valheim. At the time of this writing, 
it's been almost 2 months since Iron   Gate Studio's unsuspected giant was released, 
and it has sold over six million copies with   no signs of stopping there. Valheim is an 
exploration and survival adventurous sandbox   set in a procedurally generated representation 
of The Tenth World – a forever drifting Viking   purgatory, where players will 
have to prove their worth to Odin   in order to ascend to Valhalla alone… (or with 
friends, thanks to its online-coop mode.)
  Iron Gate Studio, the Swedish dev 
responsible for bringing Valheim to life,   is made up of an astonishing number of 5 people. 
This fact has put them and their publisher   Coffee Stain Studios into the spotlight, as they 
ascend at the same sales speed as The Witcher 3,   which also sold six million copies early 
into its release.

By comparison though,   over a thousand people were involved in 
the Witcher 3’s production globally.
  But, how much money did Valheim really make? The 
devs are yet to announce their development costs   and final return, however, they are very 
open about their sales units week by week.   Sebastian Badylak from Coffee Stain Studios said 
"We all had high hopes for Valheim and we really,   really thought it would perform 
super well, but this is beyond   anything we could have ever imagined."
And he's not exaggerating! With Valheim's price   at $19.99 right now, those six million copies 
sold can translate up to over $100,000,000.   Take Steam's and the publisher's cut, factor 
in region pricing, and you’re still left with   a hefty sum for the 5 game developers, and 
should we say 5 Vikings worthy of Valhalla.   Oh, and the game is still in early access… 
you can pick upValheim on Steam now.
  2021 appears to be a booming year for indie 

The next title on our list was released   on March 4th, and in under a month, has already 
surpassed the milestone of having a 500,000   player base. Loop Hero is a roguelike deck 
building strategy RPG filled with all sorts   of old-school 2D visuals, fresh animations, 
and a set of innovative gameplay mechanics.   The premise? simple enough: Become a hero 
and save the world, while walking in loops.   Behind this simple idea, hides a deep story about 
regaining memory and overcoming despair.
  Loop Hero was developed by Four Quarters, a team 
of four young developers who previously made the   2015 experience, "Please, Don’t Touch Anything". 
The game was born out of a failed attempt at   Ludum Dare 45. Not giving up, the devs continued 
through their loop again, completed their story,   pitched the demo to Devolver Digital, and 
received a contract almost immediately.
  After 17 months in development, Loop Hero is 
now available in Steam, the Epic Games Store,   GoG, and Humble. It has sold more 
than 500,000 copies worldwide and   counting! Not bad for a failed Game Jam, huh?
Making its 3rd appearance in an Ask Gamedev video,   the next game in our list is Hive Time by Two Lof 

We got to know Cheeseness and Mimness about   a year ago when their game was mentioned 
in our 2020 Godot Game Engine Showcase,   and we are still excited about their work. Hive 
Time is a Hive-building strategy game about not   only building a beehive but managing 
its resources and population, facing   disasters to the beats of some spectacular tunes 
reminiscent of the first Simcity entries.
  One of the devs at Two Lof bees, Cheeseness 
published a detailed assessment of notes and   facts about his finances. As an example, we 
can find how they got to the suggested price   point of $10 USD on Itch. He also details how 
he designed a zero-dollar budget model to work   in a six-month development timeline. What did he 
do to accomplish this? He donated his own time,   calculating how many hours he would work 
at a certain hourly rate. This helped   him to determine the game's price as well. In 
the end, the budget for Hive Time was $4,174.52   mainly due to the music composition costs.

Called by Rock Paper Shotgun "An Obscure Gem",   Hive time has been downloaded more than 40,000 
times from and is owned by an extra   815,000 users that purchased Itch’s Bundle 
for Racial Justice and Equality. The game is   sold on Itch via a “Pay What You Want Model” and 
has made a bit more than 750 full-priced sales.   According to Cheese, he's still been "unable 
to approach anything near covering development   costs". This doesn't mean he's giving up. His 
assessment reflects great growth on a personal   and professional level, and we at Ask Gamedev 
can’t wait for them to generate more buzz.
  Ever wonder how much money a monochromatic 
8-bit-nostalgia shoot-em-up about a food-spitting   toaster can make? Well, we did. The fourth 
entry on this list is Toast time, by solo-based   studio Force of Habit.

Released in September 
2013 for Android and later ported to iOS,   Steam, Humble, and Nintendo Switch, Toast Time 
has had quite some time to mature and show some   meaningful results. Its developer Ashley Gwinnell, 
recently published a video on Force of Habit's   YouTube channel in which he breaks down several 
sales figures and recaps the game’s progress   throughout its seven years of life.
The title was developed by a team of two:   Ashley and his friend Nick, with whom he'd 
worked with in several game jams prior.   In terms of time, the game took over 8 months 
of development.

At the end of development,   they calculated they would have to recoup 
16,000 pounds or 27,000 Dollars to break   even with development costs. This meant selling 
11,500 units priced at 1.99 pounds each.
  So how did they do?
* On Android they sold $10,500 USD
  * On iOS they made $19,100 USD
* They won the Intel Level   Up Prize for $2,000 USD.
* Winning this granted them access to   publish with Steam, where they made $4,170 USD.
* Later the game was included in Humble and   Indie Gala Bundles which added another   $8,450 USD to the basket.
* Lastly, the game was ported to Nintendo   switch where it is slowly gathering new followers, 
having sold $2,754 USD and counting.

  Over the years, the development costs ascended 
to $38,385 and the sales have returned $36,106 to   their pockets. Keep in mind their costs are mainly 
made of the time they've invested in the game,   so Force of Habit has been able 
to keep on developing new games   thanks to this return on investment.
Some clever tips given by the dev after   doing this analysis are
* 1. Hold off on putting   your game on discounts and
* 2. Don't quit your job.
  Next up on our list is Mortal Glory by Redbeak 
Games, a solo developed fantasy-themed tactical   roguelike game about training gladiators 
and throwing them into an arena to fight   for your name.

Arm them with legendary weapons 
and magical spells, recruit celebrities,   and even cheat to get the glory you deserve.
Mortal Glory was created over the course of nine   months by Auro, a dev with no previous development 
experience. Using Unity for the first time,   and working during his free time (while keeping up 
with his full-time job), Auro managed to build his   very first game arming himself with a great set of 
free tools. He used for his pixel art,   Inkscape for his titles and vector art, GIMP 
for his concept art, and Audacity for his audio.   He also built a custom python script that 
would track his working hours on the game   and later on be able to calculate his return.
So, did Mortal Glory survive its first round at   the indie arena and bring glory to its master? 
Over its first year in Steam, Mortal Glory not   only reached a very positive rating but also made 
a total revenue of $128,884 USD! Auro will receive   $76,592 USD after Steam’s cut, returns and taxes. 
After that, $3,174 USD will be used to cover his   development expenses and $18,355 to cover income 
taxes, leaving the dev and his game studio with   $55,000 USD or, as he calculated, a $33 
hourly wage for his work on Mortal Glory.   Auro is building a solid gamedev channel on 
Youtube full of tips and tricks from his first   experience as a game developer, we'll leave 
a link to it in the description below.

  Topping our list with one of the greatest indie 
hits in the last decade, we’ve got Stardew Valley   from solo developer Eric Barone and published by 
Chucklefish. The idea for Stardew Valley was born   when Eric got obsessed with paying tribute to 
the many hours he had spent playing the Harvest   Moon franchise in his younger days. The dream 
was to build the ultimate farming experience,   and he went way beyond that.

In Stardew Valley 
your main goal is to set up a thriving home in   which to farm and live your life to the fullest. 
This includes crafting, mining, exploring caves,   fishing, building, fighting monsters, making 
friends, dating, getting married, having children,   cooking, having a pet and more!
Eric established his studio ConcernedApe,   and he self-imposed himself to work 10 hours daily 
during the four years it took him to develop his   dream game.

In an interview with Gamasutra, he 
admitted his working time just increased to 15   daily hours when the game was released. Stardew 
Valley was released in February 2016 and during   its first year, it earned over 30 million 
dollars across PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation.   During the following years, the farming craze 
spread to Android, iOS, and Nintendo Switch. By   the time the game turned 4 years old in 2020, it 
had sold 10 million copies across all platforms.   In 2021, the game is still selling and it has 
also spawned a brilliant board game, announced   in February and already sold out in March!
ConcernedApe sure achieved his dream and will be   harvesting from it for quite a long time.
Thanks for watching! For more Ask Gamedev check   out this video on Marketing Mistakes, 
or this list on Video Game Budgets..

As found on YouTube

How Much Money Do Indie Games Make? [2021]

So you are about to release your indie game and all that goes through your mind is: How will my game do? Is it going to sell? How much money will I make?

The best way to get an idea is by following other indie games and learning from their experience. In this video, we'll take a look at several indie game revenues and look at how much revenue the developers actually made - some an estimate and some to the actual dollar

► Check out the Games
► Valheim
► Loop Hero
► Hive Time
► Toast Time
► Mortal Glory
► Stardew Valley

► WATCH: How Much Do Video Games Cost to Make? 5 Real Examples! ►

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