Predictions about future indie game markets by Daniel Cook

edited in General
This is a very sobering and I think informative article about the future of indie game markets by Daniel Cook. (Daniel Cook is the designer of games at Spry Fox studios like "Triple Town", and is well known for his articles on business and game design)

The article has a winter-is-coming-kind-of-vibe, so here is a picture of Leeroy to help:

image

"If anyone fears winter it's Leeroy" - A thing that is self-evident.

The article essentially predicts that on average, conditions for indie development are going to get tougher (which might come as no surprise), there's a couple strategies there for how to sidestep this.

For myself, I've been proposing these ideas for the last 6 years or so (that the forces that killed indie developers in the late nineteen nineties will conspire to make conditions tougher for indie development once more over the next decade), which is why Free Lives has been gradually growing larger (in order to stay a bit ahead of the market).

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/DanielCook/20161121/285971/Autumn_of_Indie_Game_Markets.php

I think for South Africans, we have a few advantages that might make us resistant to these forces. The cost of living is low in South Africa, so we can (generally) work on games for longer for the same costs, or for that matter sustain a studio for much longer with the same amount of money.

It might also mean South African game developers can be market leaders in creativity as the rest of the industry feels the pinch much harder and are forced to make fewer adventurous decisions, possibly leaving a gap for relatively experimental South African games.

Comments

  • The cost of living is low in South Africa
    As compared to?
  • edited
    dammit said:
    The cost of living is low in South Africa
    As compared to?
    Compared to gamedev central hubs around the world like the US, Europe. Are we cheaper than India and Thailand and China and such? I don't know about that, but if you simply compare rent and property prices you'll see how we are really a lot cheaper than those economic centres.

    Numbers I do know - China's middle class experienced a 70% growth in annual income in recent years, which is very enviable. But that 70% growth got them an average of USD8000 p/a. Whereas in average salary in the US is about USD45000 p/a (I'm not talking specifically about the gamedev industry, this is overall). So I know I earn nowhere NEAR USD45000 p/a and I'm not starving, so yeah, our cost of living is lower.
  • If you like pouring through lots of numbers, Numbeo has a great cost of living comparison tool: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/comparison.jsp

    Here is an example comparing Cape Town and Raleigh, NC: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?country1=South+Africa&country2=United+States&city1=Cape+Town&city2=Raleigh%2C+NC

    Consumer Prices in Raleigh, NC are 52.19% higher than in Cape Town
    Consumer Prices Including Rent in Raleigh, NC are 45.72% higher than in Cape Town
    Rent Prices in Raleigh, NC are 33.66% higher than in Cape Town
    Restaurant Prices in Raleigh, NC are 61.03% higher than in Cape Town
    Groceries Prices in Raleigh, NC are 92.04% higher than in Cape Town
    Local Purchasing Power in Raleigh, NC is 84.14% higher than in Cape Town
    Thanked by 1Mexicanopiumdog
  • Consumer Prices in Raleigh, NC are 52.19% higher than in Cape Town
    Consumer Prices Including Rent in Raleigh, NC are 45.72% higher than in Cape Town
    Rent Prices in Raleigh, NC are 33.66% higher than in Cape Town
    Restaurant Prices in Raleigh, NC are 61.03% higher than in Cape Town
    Groceries Prices in Raleigh, NC are 92.04% higher than in Cape Town
    Local Purchasing Power in Raleigh, NC is 84.14% higher than in Cape Town
    And don't I know it. :(

    --
    I've generally heard it argued that SA's not in a bad spot because of sharing a time zone with Europe (which can help with doing contract/service work), and because many people here speak English as a first language, so that there are fewer issues with communication and understanding the western market, which helps to keep us somewhat competitive compared to countries with lower living costs than us. I can imagine that advantage shrinking as globalization reduces the cultural barriers to working from China or India, and if our internet stays spotty or prohibitively expensive.

    I suppose if we're using Cook's seasons analogy, the hope I suppose is that we'd be able to harvest as much as we can now to stave off the winter, and potentially even learn, grow and skill up to be prepared for the next spring.
  • edited
    If you like pouring through lots of numbers, Numbeo has a great cost of living comparison tool: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/comparison.jsp

    Here is an example comparing Cape Town and Raleigh, NC: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?country1=South+Africa&country2=United+States&city1=Cape+Town&city2=Raleigh%2C+NC

    Consumer Prices in Raleigh, NC are 52.19% higher than in Cape Town
    Consumer Prices Including Rent in Raleigh, NC are 45.72% higher than in Cape Town
    Rent Prices in Raleigh, NC are 33.66% higher than in Cape Town
    Restaurant Prices in Raleigh, NC are 61.03% higher than in Cape Town
    Groceries Prices in Raleigh, NC are 92.04% higher than in Cape Town
    Local Purchasing Power in Raleigh, NC is 84.14% higher than in Cape Town
    But these just compare costs - what people are capable of earning has a big impact on whether something is relatively affordable. It's not about how much buying power rands have.

    Edit: I see the last line talks about purchasing power. So...yeah, rent prices might be 33.66% higher but your purchasing power is 84% higher... so yeah.
  • edited
    dammit said:

    But these just compare costs - what people are capable of earning has a big impact on whether something is relatively affordable. It's not about how much buying power rands have.

    Edit: I see the last line talks about purchasing power. So...yeah, rent prices might be 33.66% higher but your purchasing power is 84% higher... so yeah.
    Remember we're talking about lower COST OF LIVING, which, if we assume that we're earning foreign currency, which gamedevs should be, would make the purchasing power question irrelevant. As income is not locally hinged. The assumption is that that gamedevs are actually making and selling into the world like they should be and not selling locally only.
  • Well, I wouldn't go as far as to say that indie game devs should be selling internationally, I think there's opportunities here as well, but if a person or company is selling overseas then a person in South Africa has a significant advantage over most of their European and American counterparts because of South Africa's relatively low cost of living (compared to those places).

    There's another effect I think is interesting, in that, in places like England most of the indies aren't in London. I suspect that because London is so expensive compared to the rest of England (as Cape Town is more expensive than most of South Africa), the high living costs in London mean that indies are scattered throughout England (so they can afford to work on their games longer, or just live more comfortable lives).

    But because South Africa is relatively cheap to begin with (when compared to England), and there is comparable earning potential as an indie in South Africa as in England, there is a higher proportion of indies gathered in Cape Town (and other city centres). And I think there is a slight competitive advantage in being surrounded by other indies and sharing ideas in person instead of being scattered long distances apart and being more isolated geographically. I think it's also a lifestyle advantage in getting to hangout with other indies (assuming you like doing that kind of thing).

    Thanked by 1SUGBOERIE
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