Whenever I read about an indie game studio closing its doors due to financial troubles, my stomach knots. Witnessing such talented people pursue their dreams and be met by failure is heartbreaking. I understand the allure of becoming the next Rovio, but for most of us, it’s a siren’s call.
Just how difficult is it to become a successful developer? Take Facebook for example: in 2010 the average Facebook developer had about a .006 percent chance of turning a profit (check out my Cracking the Facebook Code presentation). iOS developers face similar challenges with the top 1 percent of their ranks bringing in one third of all revenue. Them ain’t good odds!
Don’t get the wrong impression. The purpose of this article is not to dissuade you from pursuing your dreams as an indie developer. Its purpose is to present an alternative way to use your studio’s talent to secure income so you CAN pursue your dreams. That alternative is making virtual training applications.
Why Your Studio Can Profit from Virtual Training Apps
Compared to games, the virtual training space is relatively untapped. Sure, some crafty devs have started developing virtual training apps, but from a competitive point-of-view, these early adopters don’t matter. The virtual training space is so large that current competition has barely scratched the surface. To put it in perspective, think about how many industries train employees: energy, automotive, aeronautical, manufacturing, law enforcement…the list is infinite. Now think about the number of companies and employees in each industry worldwide. HUGE right? THIS is the virtual training market.
Conversely, the game development market is busting at the seems with hungry developers all wanting a piece of the same pie: people to play their games…or…publishers to fund them. With such a limited audience and an already astronomical amount of competition, it’s no wonder 93 percent of games fail.
- Lack of Distribution Hurdles
Most virtual training applications are proprietary, meaning they are installed and run locally or on an intranet. For developers, this is great news. Developing locally eliminates almost every major distribution hurdle associated with using a publisher or distributor. If you’re developing locally, you don’t have to worry about integrating APIs, learning new engines, waiting for your app to get approved, marketing your app, etc.
- Lots of Revenue without the Share
If the first two reasons haven’t convinced you, hopefully the revenue potential will. Companies who train employees have sizable, dedicated budgets. According to Bersin & Associates the average company spends $1,202 per employee on training. When you think about how many employees some companies have, you begin to realize just how big their training budgets are. For developers, it’s always a good thing to target potential clients who can afford your services…and then some.
Beyond their healthy budgets, companies typically pay per project NOT via revenue share. When you work on a project basis, you keep everything you earn, including that 30 to 40 percent you’d normally surrender. If you’re a savvy developer you might even charge on a per-seat basis. Throw an annual subscription fee on top of that, and you could be making some serious dough.
Feature image above courtesy of Dassault Systèmes.