The serious business of making games

I assume conferences and shows are a big deal for indie devs that attend them, and those closings/cancellations will have an impact.

What else about COVID-19 do you think will affect indie devs specifically?

Not debating anything, just asking if there are other factors that will affect them that I’m not thinking of beyond conference appearances (or obviously being directly affected by getting sick themselves).

I think a lot of indie devs live hand to mouth and count on their next game being signed or they run out of money. That’s the thing I worry about, as publishers pare back their investments.

The majority of them are from developing countries? :) Isn’t that the only way to be a successful indie developer these days? Live in a country with the lowest cost-of-living possible?

(Actually: I’m not sure that’s worth a smiley, despite it being flippant)

Where is the evidence this is happening?

Every year or two years we get some new article, usually not from the gaming industry, talking about why they think gaming is recession or downturn proof. That is usually a gross oversimplified analysis but there is a pretty strong fact behind all these articles… gaming is one of the cheapest entertainment sources we have today. When people are not flying across the country, going to theme parks, packing themselves into disease filled cruises, either due to money or something else, the barrier to entry to buy a new game is incredibly small in comparison. There is no fact based reason to believe video games, including indies, will be especially hard hit.

And this is keeping in mind… a lot of industries are adjusting to the reality of what’s happening today, and some them are being crushed due to lack of supplies/components, workers and yeah people are maybe second guessing going to places with a lot of people, but that’s this industry. They have an eyeball issue… and that trying to get attention, is not new.

Yes, WoW had a strong social network effect. Discord and other outlets provide the same community for many gamers and games though.

If the economy is down there is less discretionary income overall. Games may weather that storm better than other entertainment industries.

Landon Montgomery, co-founder of Gearbox, has died.

Blizzard told its prospective employees to expect 10-20% of their salary in profit sharing bonuses each year (I left in 2014). That went up with tenure. We had some great years during the WoW days! And some bad years after that. My heart goes out to these employees, although you shouldn’t have been counting on any bonus.

Wow, ain’t that just surprising. Pitchford has always seemed like such a stand up guy.

Gee, thanks, Randy.

I mean, it is harsh, but not wrong. I was told repeatedly by my manager at my previous job that if I want more money, I am gonna have to quit because they are not gonna give it to me. I took his advice and got much better and much better paying job right after. Best advice I ever got!

From the article it sounds like some will be taking him up on his offer. This part was just gross.

That guy always comes off as such an asshole.

Unfortunately for the employees, this is a bluff that usually doesn’t get challenged. Most people grumble and moan, maybe even put out some feelers for a new job somewhere, then just continue grinding away in the same company.

I’ve been at multiple companies where some issue came up and the leadership’s response was similar, although more politically phrased like, “Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to meet that request, but if you need good references or assistance finding a new career path that may lead to this resolving to your satisfaction, we’ll be happy to provide that.”

It’s not necessarily bullshit though, like when the company is a billion dollar in debt and staring down a huge downturn due to some well intentioned but wrong decisions (that was before the current coronacrisis) I am not gonna begrudge them for telling me to go if I want more money.

It’s totally not bullshit. I mean any company is going to have a limit on what they will do to keep an employee.

It’s just there’s a big difference between “We can’t do that, but here;'s what we can offer,” versus “fuck off if you don’t like it.”

Also giving the CEO a big bonus while not the line workers is… not a great look. Even if it was all above board and what was contractually promised.

Also @Paul_cze you forget that you have far greater worker protections over in Euroland than we do in Freedom’Murica :wink: screwing over the workers is practically tradition here

Yes. I’m sure they all “enjoyed news” that their bonus checks were much smaller than what they were told to expect.

I dunno. The Kotaku article made me more sympathetic than these comments did. It didn’t sound like they just told the developers to fuck off, it was that the expenses were larger than the employees realized and there wasn’t as much money to pass out. Now, if they didn’t end up doing the 60/40 thing, or if there was some weaseling in the accounting, that would be bad, but the article doesn’t say that. And the bonus referenced was four years ago, for what that’s worth.

I learned in my 2nd post college career that taking a salary cut for the promise of a bonus is the stupidest thing you can do. Sure it might work out once or twice but odds are that bonus isn’t going to be there for one reason or another and then all you are left with is a depressed salary.

In my case I had 6 months that gave me a great (prorated) bonus. Then the company got bought and they chucked bonuses out, so people that started there 4-5 years ago now effectively made less than before. When confronted about this the new HR person literally just shrugged and said “pretty much”.

I get an annual bonus at my current job but I made sure I was happy with my salary even if the bonus didn’t come through.

That’s the right answer. Do your best to make sure your base comp is to your satisfaction. Bonuses are a bonus, don’t count on them until they are deposited in your account.

I imagine its like movies and the mythic back end profit sharing deals, where creative accounting proves that all movies are officially “flops”.

Exactly. A bonus is something added to your regular pay. If you are counting on the bonus as part of your regular pay, it ain’t a bonus, pardner.