Previously, I have written about big budget games versus small budget games, high perceived value versus low perceived value, and also tips to make games that feel like a high value game under a small budget. This time, I want to share some thoughts about making smaller games, and why you shouldn’t underestimate those.
I like to incite people from my country to get into game development, but there’s this notion that you have to start big, specially because people that get into game development do it because they liked X or Y big game, and they want to do the same. Phrases like “I’d like to make my own Half Life” are very common. I actually was having a conversation a few days ago about this with a friend that is trying to get into game development and, while I give him ideas to make smaller games, he always forgets about those ideas and tries to pursue bigger ideas like big first person shooters, racing games or fighting games.
In my article about big games versus small games I mentioned small games are faster to develop, while bigger games take longer. The problem is bigger games are usually cooler and more “bombastic” than smaller games. However, in my case I can’t look at it just from the “cool factor” point of view, but rather from a business perspective.
Since smaller games can be developer faster, you can start monetizing them faster and also you can have more products on the market in a shorter period of time. Look at it this way: is it better to spend or 3 years working on a big game to start selling it, or spend those 2 or 3 years making between 4 and 6 games that gradually make money as they are released?
You can even make a career out of making smaller games. You can look for my interview with Gunstone Studios here on Renderosity, They have been working on hypercasual games for a few years now, and that has opened them different business opportunities.
On top of that, these smaller games could be just a platform for something else. As you start making more money you can take on bigger projects In the past I have talked about Jake Birkett and Grey Alien Games. Grey Alien Games has been around for almost 20 years, and for the longest time they made mostly casual games. What I am saying is just because you can’t make your Half Life right now, doesn’t mean you won’t make it in the future.
Another thing you can learn from Grey Alien Games is how they have iterated on a specific genre of game. The studio released a few match-three games, and every new game improved the gameplay from previous games. When you are making a game, it’s a good idea to reuse that code for your next game, and the next. Although Killer Dolls is not really a small game (it’s more like a “medium-sized” game), the idea was always to use the base programming for more projects, and my plan is to make more games that use that same basic system. The best of all, that system can be used for smaller or bigger games.
Smaller games can be a good business opportunity, and maybe they should be considered as part of our strategy. Besides, as we all know, the global economy is really bad (and it’s not going to get better any time soon) and you need to make as much money as possible and be smart with the money you have.