The cold reality is that there are as many indie games being created each day as there are farts in the wind, and just like those Vega-bound gases, your game will most likely dissipate into the atmosphere without much notice.
That is, of course, unless you do everything in your power to be heard. Using social networking to shout your wares can be effective; posting to review sites and hoping for an article is important; getting your game on sites like Desura, Indiecity, or Indievenia is smart (well, maybe not Indievenia). But more often than not, the masses out there — and there are masses (Humble Indie Bundle proves that every few weeks) — your game will get about as much attention and traction as that fart I was talking about. Your best bet is to take a holistic approach to promoting your game.
Getting into a bundle is one of the keys to that approach.
I’ve worked with dozens of developers to get their titles noticed, published, and in the hands of players. This isn’t because it’s my job (I’m a sixth-grade reading teacher), it’s because I’ve fallen flat on my face as an indie developer. I’ve learned what it takes to get noticed, dusted myself off, and realized that for most games, it will take hard work and grit to become a success.
Finding success as an indie developer takes the resources of many, the dedication of those around you, and teamwork. You simply can’t do it alone, and that’s why the latest saturation of indie game bundles is a boon for developers like you and me. Let me share some examples of the benefits that these varied, bloated, and relentless indie bundles can provide for you and your game.
First and foremost, let’s talk about money. You worked hard and want to get paid. A bundle (and we are not talking about a Humble Indie Bundle here — they are the exception, not the rule) will generate anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars in revenue for your game. It’s pretty simple to do the math on any bundle out there; you might not get exact figures, but you can bet you are pretty close. An Indie Royal bundle may sell five to 10 thousand copies with five or more games. After processing fees, taxes, any charity benefit, and the portal share and cuts (hopefully equal shares) to each developer, those five thousand sales at about five dollars each sound like a nice chunk of change. In reality, each developer can expect maybe two or three thousand dollars. That’s like selling your game for fifty cents!
Think beyond the payments
You don’t enter into a bundle in hopes of retiring on a nice island. You enter a bundle for the residual influence it has on your game. The guys at the Humble Indie Bundle said it best, and I’m paraphrasing here: The exposure any game receives by being in the bundle far outweighs the low price point of the sale.
This is one thing that holds true for a bundle of any size. You get free exposure in a wide variety of areas. You get eyeballs, lots and lots of eyeballs, to look at your game, see what it’s about, and recognize it in the future. Look at this very article, written by me to share some insight and to build up additional exposure for our developers. You see their games, and their titles become more relevant.
Our site, IndieBundle.org has worked with dozens and dozens of developers. If there is any interest at all, I’d love to share statistics about our games, our visitors, and whatever I can to help build the case that being in a bundle is a boon for any new indie game. We’ve supported games of all sizes and aspirations, helped two titles through Steam’s Greenlight process who will now appear on the digital distribution platform, and gotten nothing but quality appreciation for what we do (even if a bundle doesn’t catch or sell thousands). It’s all about the exposure, and it’s why we do it.
Full disclosure: I help run IndieBundle.org, and I want you to go there to submit your game or support the developers who are already there. But if you are actively trying to get on Steam’s Greenlight, soliciting reviews for your game, or just trying to get someone — anyone — to notice your indie game, then I hope my insight as someone who does this daily can help in even a small way.