Starting my first game company

I’ve had RakNet for a while now and recently it’s started making money. Not much money, but more than before, which was nothing. While RakNet is very good and is something I will continue pursuing, my real heart is in making my own game in my own game company.

After making a schedule, it looks like I can start beta in 3-4 months. It’s a tight schedule but also a pretty small game and I already have a complete engine. I’ve read that a modestly successful independent game can sell 10,000 copies. Since I’m monthly subscription based, that would work out to about $60,000 a month income, about half of which would go towards expenses. My break-even point, to just pay expenses, with no salary for myself, and no phone support, is about 1,000 subscribers. While some MMOGs release once they hit the break-even point, I consider that a failure, because people who try a game once and form a negative opinion are unlikely to return. You will get the most interest on the day of release. So releasing before the game is awesome is just a way to permanently lose a lot of business.

It’s tough to manage the release date. If I release too early, it’s essentially permanent failure and I lost everything. If I wait longer, it’s a huge expense, not just the salaries of the workers but my own lost potential salary, which is over 6 figures a year. I’m reminded of when I first released RakNet. When I did so the library was very good. However, compared to now (after 3 years of development) it was unbelievably slow and primitive. Right now, with version 3.0 of RakNet coming out soon, RakNet is essentially feature complete. If I had just waited 3 years in closed beta I would have been better off. So I think the key balancing act is to stop when there are no longer features to add that would result in a significant increase in business. Keep in closed-beta until the closed-beta testers substantially indicate the game is good enough. Then run open-beta until 10,000 people indicate they would pay monthly. Then I think it’s good enough – even if some people are turned away I hit my goal.

On the logistics, I finished hiring 4 programmers from India. For two of them, I have self-doubt as if I made the right decision. Sometimes I get asked a stupid question or I ask a question they ought to know and get the wrong answer, or an answer that doesn’t address my question. I’m doing my best to avoid being overly sensitive so won’t say more on that until later. I will just say that I really hope I hired the right people because that, more than anything else, will make or break the game and the company.

One Response to “Starting my first game company”

  1. Mytos says:

    Heya Rakkar.
    I am your enthusiast, and I wish you have a lot of luck. Your dream to make money with your own game in your own company is the same that I have. Actually I’m working in three projects, and one on them is mine (two of those projects will use RakNet), I hope that some day these projects return some resources to make the same as you.

    Good luck!

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