Podcast #5: How to be a successful indie developer

Peter Molyneux, Sean Murray, Henrique Olifiers and Tom Page give their insight

It's been obvious for some time now that the underlying swell of the current industry shift is towards smaller teams. New platforms and models, combined with a broadening of audience, continue to push studios away from old models of giant publishers, 300 person projects and high-risk, high profit strategies.

Instead, over the last two or three years we've seen a continuing proliferation of independent outfits, a wave of start-ups happy to self-publish and promote, maintaining a mantra of self-sufficiency and commercial and creative freedom.

It's been a narrative which has yielded a tremendous number of successes. Mojang and Minecraft are perhaps the prime example, but almost the entirety of the App Store and much of Facebook's eco-system are populated by companies of less than 100 workers, founded in the last two or three years.

But are these Elysian fields quite as sun-soaked and glorious as they're often painted as being? Indie development, as well as producing hits and success stories, is also full of tales of developers re-mortgaging houses, leaving staff unpaid for months and going out of business. What separates the wheat from the chaff?

To find out, we invited four UK developers, all occupying a different band of the indie spectrum, to give us their thoughts on what advantages being independent offers, and how you need to go about it to succeed.

It's a big month for guests, too. A newly expanded studio at our sponsors, Side, means we've been able to fit in a fifth participant for our chat so we thought we'd aim high and invite some big guns.


The GamesIndustry International Podcast is recorded at Side Studios, London.

First is Tom Page, ex-marketeer and founder of London studio PLA. PLA is fresh on the scene, having produced a number of small games and online experiences for brand owners and other clients, but recently secured a substantial development grant from Abertay and Turbulenz for a prototype of their new game, Squaddies.

Alongside Tom is Henrique Olifiers, co-founder of trail-blazing social studio Bossa. Bossa's MonsterMind has been unsettling some of Facebook's top games with its mix of B-Movie tropes and social features, but even in the wake of so many recent social acquisitions, remains solidly independent.

Our third guest is Sean Murray. Head of Hello Games and biological father of Joe Danger, Sean is also widely regarded as one of the nicest, yet frankest guys in the industry. With a Joe Danger sequel on the way on PSN and XBLA, Sean's experience of indie development on console is second to almost none.

Then we have Peter Molyneux: a man who has founded studios, created genres and launched multi-million selling franchises. Having reached the natural zenith of his career in terms of what was written on his business card, Peter recently vacated his role as Microsoft's head of games to join a fresh indie start up, 22 Cans. Why? Find out in the Flash player below, download it here or on iTunes here.

Our podcast RSS feed URL is here. Soundcloud and Mixcloud versions also available.

The GamesIndustry International podcast is recorded at London's Side Studios.

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Latest comments (1)

Tim Hull Co-Founder, Stuntpigs Ltd.4 years ago
Nice preamble, but became much more interesting at about 41mins in when talk of the future took the stage.

Very nice to hear from a group of happy and successful indie developers, brought back some fond memories as well as some shudderingly awful ones.

Overall the group confirmed my aspirations of a bright indie future for those that dare.

Especialmente agradável para ouvir Henrique, muito obrigado.

It's funny to be a British developer in Brazil listening to a Brazilian developer in the Britain. :)
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