How Successful Indie Devs Deal With Getting Rich

How Successful Indie Devs Deal With Getting Rich

You know what they say… more money more problems. Or, more accurately, the more money you have the more likely you are to think about how you earned it, how you should use it and how it changes your relationships.

Today, The New Yorker’s Simon Parkin published a fascinating article about millionaire indie developers, and it details how they spend and feel about the money they acquire after their games make it big.

For example, Rami Ismail of Vlambeer — which you might know for Ridiculous Fishing or Luftrausers — described feeling guilt after seeing how much money Ridiculous Fishing made on the first day it was on sale.

“Ever since I was a kid I’ve watched my mum wake up at six in the morning, work all day, come home, make my brother and me dinner — maybe shout at me for too much ‘computering,’ ” he recalls. “My first thought that day was that while I was asleep I’d made more money than she had all year. And I’d done it with a mobile-phone game about shooting fish with a machine gun.”

This, in spite of knowing that he did work hard for the money. Money makes things complicated like that, sometimes. There is also stigma about certain types of work being worth more than others, and there’s certainly a stigma about games being frivolous — which can make it easy to see why someone might feel guilty about becoming rich through video games, even if they have arguably earned their success.

Another developer, Davey Wreden — who is behind The Stanley Parable — decided that if his game was successful, he’d go out and buy the cheapest and most expensive salmon with the intention of cooking them both. The idea is to conduct a taste test to see if the difference in cost was justified or not. After the game sold six hundred thousand copies, he ended up buying a ping pong table — an still plans on doing the salmon experiment at some point as well.

You should give the entire thing a read here, it’s fascinating — you’ll learn about how developers like Jonathan Blow is putting all his money into The Witness without worrying about whether or not it will recoup costs, and how Edmund McMillen of Super Meat Boy worries that people have the wrong idea about games being a quick and easy way to get rich.


  • Slightly off topic but I’ve had my best mates turn on me and become complete assholes because I saved some money when I had a job. It was only four or five thousand bucks which is hardly anything but that’s my definition of “rich”, having been a “NEET” for a few years.

    Ive also had my Mum’s family literally be torn in two over money. Money does some crazy ass things.

    • That’s weird, I’ve had an opposite effect. During a time when all my friends had jobs and money, while I was still struggling to find one, they still had me drive them around and buy them dinner. Their logic reasoning being that I didn’t have 1,000 bucks a week to spend on beer.

  • Regarding the last paragraph, i doubt that many ppl see indie development as being a get rich quick scheme. Most indie devs (in australia anyway) are just in denial that there are no jobs or industry over here.

    Being an indie developer is essentially another way of saying im on the dole. A lot rely on government funding or welfare to stay afloat.
    And the ones that are talented and could potentially be successful are overshaddowed by the mass produced shit out there.

    • It’s actually quite a common misconception that making a game or app is an easy “Get Rich Quick” scheme. Most people don’t know about the harsh realities of it all because the only things they ever read are how so-and-so just earned a million dollars with their app, or how some guy became an overnight success and earned $50k with a simple game. Even among the gaming news sites, you’ll only hear of the failures when they’re particularly notable, further promoting the thought that it’s a relatively low risk environment for making money.

  • I figured if I ever make a successful game, I’ll either bring more gaming industry to Aus or reinvest in local businesses. Whichever.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!