We get this often and I feel it’s mostly because we’re very honest and straightforward with our plans and dreams.
I will try to explain it and hopefully it will make some sense.
- This is officially a hobby project. Nobody is getting paid. We do not have funding or investors. I’m the only person working on this full time and I’m the one paying for everything from my savings. The cost of running the project (3D program licenses, server rentals, domains, web services - Github, etc) is currently, I believe, around 2000 euros (~2500$) per year.
Now, when we were starting the project we discussed everything at length and decided it might make sense if everything goes well to turn the project into commercial effort.
Right now it’s a hobby project.
However if we did not mention that “hey guys, we might go commercial one day” that would be a really non-cool thing to omit.
It might not happen. But also it might happen - and that’s why it’s important that we say it.
- There’s really is no money. If we had money everyone would get paid, simple as that.
And that’s the reason why we aren’t offering anything beyond “vague promise of potential employment at some unspecified time” like you accurately put it. And why is that? It’s not because we’re a bunch of jerks who wish to exploit people. It really isn’t.
We just don’t anything to offer except the experience of being a part of a pretty cool and dedicated team. It’s a hobby project. There’s no money. Would go commercial if everything goes well - if everything doesn’t go well we might not.
There are plenty of people out there who lie out of their ass about their projects and make promises that they can’t keep. I think it’s the wrong way to go about it even though I get a lot of bad rap for being perfectly honest about our plans.
- So what if the project starts to make money? All this talk about employment is just that - nobody is getting a big fat pay day from the profits. Instead everyone gets an equal chance, including me, of getting employed to continue the development of the game. Let’s do some simple math.
For example let’s say that we’d sell 100 000 copies of the game. It’s a bit on the pessimistic side but according to my market research of our nearest competitors it’s perfectly within the realm of possibility. Let’s say it’s a sort of “worst case scenario” (it wouldn’t be bad at all, to be honest). So at 20 euros per game with taxes and other expenses we’re talking about approximately 1.5 million euros of income. With employee expenses around 40 000 euros per year per person (taxes, etc) - which is quite a minimum salary - and assuming that most people would like to do 8 hour work days full time (I’ve been asking around and not everyone is interested in quitting their day jobs and working full time on the project) we could pay 10 developers for ~3 years worth of salaries before going bankrupt.
So that’s at around 15 euros per hour as a salary (without taxes). So as you can see nobody really gets rich by developing games. It’s very unlikely. You just buy some time to continue the development, work on a minimum salary (yes, you would get paid a lot more working at any reasonable IT-job) and hope that there’s still enough money next year to pay everyone and dream of a big break.
But realistically what those ~30 000 yearly sales does is it barely pays for food, rent and other bills so you can keep on working on the dream project in poverty.
It’s really not about money even after going commercial. Realistically nobody gets rich doing this. Most games on Steam sell only 60 000 copies over their lifetime and that’s it, you’re done.
So it can’t be about money. There’s no point in doing this for the payday. Most game devs would make more money gathering bottles and cleaning toilets as their day job. It’s a hard industry where only handful few make it big.
We could never ever afford to do this if we had to pay everyone salaries right from the start. It would mean that we would have to take lot of investors on board at which point we would be responsible for those people and instead of doing what we love we would have to work and we would have to make all decisions based on what would potentially bring in the most returns for the investors. Also game development is really expensive. We would need a bank loan. And there are no banks in existence who would be willing to throw million dollars on an indie game project to get that 3-5 years of development time that we need to get to even an early alpha stage.
So that’s why all the indie projects out there pretty much do what we do - work for free. And most of them work on simple 2D games which are relatively easy and fast to make. And they make a lot of them and hope that one of them will make enough sales to pay for their next project.
There’s no money in this. Virtually nobody gets rich by making games - unless you pocket that 1.5 million from the game sales that was meant for the dev team’s salaries and run away with it and spend it all on strippers, drugs and shoes on a paradise island somewhere. Yeah. I’ve heard of stories of that happening.
- You ask “why work on our dream rather than pursuing their own game project?”
Because developing a voxel game alone is hard. Because working in a team is fun. If you don’t like the game’s idea you definitely should not work on it, that’s for sure.
I don’t have better answer than that. We’re here. We’ve been at it almost 2 years. And before that I spent 4 years working on the concepts alone. I’ve spent on this several thousands of euros (still under 10 000 euros). We’re dedicated. We’re serious about this.
There isn’t much else I can say.
If you have more questions or wish to point out flaws in my thinking feel free to throw them at me. I only ask that you keep the conversation civil (like you have done so far - we sometimes get very aggressive replies/personal attacks) and I will do my best to answer all concerns honestly and straight as I see it.