Ideas and Validation December 2, 2019

Game Development

Marcos Pereira @marcospgp

I've been trying to come up with a good idea for a SaaS product or something along those lines, but haven't come up with anything interesting so far.

I have, however, always been into gaming, and even started programming because of Minecraft and how much I enjoyed playing it.

Have any of you ever considered creating a game as a side project? How do you think it compares to a more run of the mill software as a service product?

And bonus question, what would your dream game be like? 😀

  1. 7

    I had a game company for 3 years, where I worked full time and tried to get income, so not quite the situation you're asking advice for, but for what's it worth:

    #1 If you think games are fun to design and program, you are wrong. They are incredibly fun! After decade of coding JavaPersistenceServiceFactories, it is pretty awesome to code explosions and KlingonPhotonTorpedoFactories...

    #2 If you think earning money from games is hard, you are wrong. It is incredibly hard. Games are hit driven business, small games get largely ignored amid the 10-100m production cost blockbuster titles, yet producing assets for even small game is still expensive, and everybody wants to make games so there is more competition than becoming a male porn star.

    If you do games, do it for fun, not for money.

    1. 1

      LOL so true! My background is in game dev too.

  2. 3

    As other posters have said indie game dev seems pretty brutal and a very crowded space.

    That said, a lot of IH podcast interviewees have made the point that competition can be a good sign of a fertile market. It would be interesting to approach indie game dev with an indie hacker type of strategy of validating, talking to customers, and building audience:

    • Use search frequency and trends data to find under-served niche games people are looking for.
    • Use Twitter and Reddit search for signs of life in that niche.
    • Set up a landing page with game art for your concept of a game in that niche.
    • Drive people to it and try to get email signups.
    • Reach out and ask them what kind of game they want.
    • Ask them how much they will pay.
    • Make the game they tell you to make at the price they say they will pay and use the audience you've built to sell it.

    Sounds so easy. :)

  3. 2

    Money is not the only reward when working on a project. Regardless if it's a SaaS product/service, mobile game or online course, the experience and knowledge learned is more valuable.

    When I talk to students I usually bring up the difference between Tiger Woods and Roger Federer. Long story short, Tiger focused on golf since he was 3 while Roger played many different sports until he tried out for tennis as a teenager so he could hang out with his friend on the team. He admits his experience in other sports helped make him one of the best tennis players in history.

    The point is, whatever project you work on, try to gain knowledge while building it. Not just look at how much money you will receive. If you enjoy making games, you don't have to build something big. Try building something like Z-Type which is a very popular game among students. Or create a new game AI and learn more about machine learning. In the end, the experience can help you on future projects or improve your skills for a better job.

    1. 1

      create a new game AI and learn more about machine learning

      This, this is genius!

  4. 2

    I wish I had the patience and skill to make a game lol.

    I can't think of one dream game, but metal gear solid was pretty awesome.

  5. 1

    Game development these days is too complicated and expensive. Also, the requirements for hardware are very high. Gamers start using technologies like SLI to improve GPUs performances. I read here about it. Quite an interesting topic actually.

  6. 1

    Hi everyone, which games you like to play at the moment? can someone recommend me some interesting games from his own experience? a month ago I started playing in an episodic game, if you are interested you can find it on . There are a lot of useful inofrmation about many different games. I would like to try some strategic games where attention and logic are needed, does anyone have some ideas? if you find something, tag me please so I can to see. Thank you in advance, have a nice day.

  7. 1

    Hi, I have been looking for others on IH who have also made games on the side, or before making SaaS products. My friends and I began working on a mobile game as a side project about 3 years ago, and now we have a company for it as of last year! Came across this thread and figured I'd leave a comment.

    Our original intention 3 years ago was to make a game that our friends could play together after college. We came up with a multiplayer mobile word game that has some territory control aspects - Hexicon. It was getting great feedback during alpha and prototype phase, so that's why we took the step to form a company. Pretty fun if I do say so myself, and it's currently in open beta:

    We plan to make many other games/tools/projects in the future too. It turns out that a multiplayer mobile game is a perfect first project when learning to work together as a team. The 3 of us were already very close friends before working on Hexicon, but now we have a lot more experience working together and are aware of these aspects of production:

    • Community Management and building an audience
    • Marketing
    • Customer Feedback management
    • remote work
    • business admin
    • legal
    • project management / prioritizing

    We are still mostly terrible at the above bullet points, but now we at least are more prepared for when we release a more serious product! Or so I hope.

    Bonus answer - I have a ton of game ideas, but my favorite at the moment is a story-driven tower defense game. Earth has been overrun by some life-sucking alien plant and humanity seeks for and finds a new planet. This planet has several other alien races, and a player can choose to befriend or fight each. Depending on their choices, their story, technology, and weapons evolve differently, resulting in different strategies and paths wrapped in a TD-genre. Mainly because I love crazy tech trees.

  8. 1

    Also, you can develop SaaS products for the game industry. For example, from "a simple pixel graphic editor" for indie developers to "feedback tracking tools" for game publishers. You can find some success stories on the internet from indie devs.

  9. 1

    Been down that road.
    It's exceptionally hard to make even shitty money at. If you are looking to make a living in the space, run the other way. If you want a fun side project and don't need revenue, by all means dive in.

  10. 1

    Game for mobile (android/iOS) or web/stream/...

    For mobile, you are tie with the store (apple store and play store), and if you want a game like a MMORPG, be ready to spend few k$ per day to be on the top of the search.

    Fact is the stores are crowed of app, so to be found in the stores is really a competition.

    And since 2 months, looks like google want money (ie spend advertising) to be display in th search results.

    For gaming, I guess that "casual" game (litlle game easy to play) are the best, because you need only one good idea to make the game viral and take $$$.

    Note : ASO is really helping for long term

  11. 1

    My first commercial product was an iOS game. I build it as a side project and had to learn everything from scratch (Objective-C, OpenGLES, C, etc.). It was an amazing experience. It took me two years off on/off work to build. Was received very well. Made around 25K in total over the past years, it's now free. 25K of course is not enough to pay for those two years on/off work, but apparently it performed better than most apps.

    The time investment vs reward is also the reason why I switched to "SaaS" development...

    SaaS solutions or web products are a lot faster to build so there's less risk, two years of building is quite the investment. Games can also be considered art projects (at least that's how I see my game). Where SaaS is more about solving an issue for your customers and offering a usable UI, games are more about offering an experience.

    I eventually want to make my way back to game development and this side quest into web products is how I'm going to finance it.

    You can find the game here:

  12. 1

    I've seen some YouTube reviews of indie game "studios" and such people that talk about their like 10 year plus story, try to find these, would give you plenty of context.

    IMHO games are like 10-100 times harder to make money on, I context it to the low amount of relative value entertainment creates and the higher competition... Same context as making money by producing sounds or painting... It's a would mostly with one ladder that a few take the top and most just crash. There are interesting exceptions here and there, but they are very rare. Also the cost of production has gone way up for most and returns have gone down which is the reverse from many other businesses.