Guide for an indie developer:How to get money from your Steam game

v 1.0 10.01.2022
How can an indie developer make a game with a minimal budget?

How can an indie developer make a game with a minimal budget?

When starting to plan the game, we want to make something similar to Red Dead Redemption 2, but a bit easier and much less expensive, assuming that our financial management a lot better than Rockstar’s, who are swimming in cash.

We’re right about one thing, it’s possible to release Red Dead Redemption 2 without huge costs, but it would probably make much less money.

At the time of writing this, I’m looking at the top sales of games on Steam in June 2021 on GameSensor and I see that Red Dead Redemption 2 earned 11 000 000$ in a month. This is a great number for a game that was released on Steam at the end of 2019, and a year earlier on consoles.

If only Rockstar would’ve cut the budget and wouldn’t have spent 256 000 000$ on development, they probably would be selling fewer copies right now.

Video quality and attention to detail in a game strongly affects the player’s desire to buy a product and recommend it to friends. But most likely you don’t have budgets similar to Rockstar and you need to understand that it’s impossible to make analogue of Red Dead Redemption 2 for 1 000 000$.

You have to determine the minimum level of a product that will integrate your idea. It’s important to create a structured plan and describe in detail all the mechanics and technical nuances (sorted by importance) of your future game. Then you can give complete document to a team that has developed similar games in the past and listen to their opinion about estimated costs and development time.

If you manage to find a team that assesses you project, estimated costs and development time – that’s great. If not, and you haven’t made games with the similar mechanics and technical nuances before – you should start thinking about how well you understand the scale of your future project. You can always get an assessment from another studio. And if there are 2 studios informing you that your budget can’t handle the development of such game – it’s worth listening to them and simplifying your game.

While prioritizing mechanics and technical nuances in lists, you’ll have to divide each list in 2 parts: the necessary minimum and things you can neglect. You also have to understand that you’re less likely to implement everything planned in time, straying from the plan. But those things on a way to the cherished goal will likely get into the initial budget.

How can an indie developer make a game with a minimal budget?
GameSensor Man


A game’s budget can really increase just because of extended development time, even if programmers would work according to the plan. If you won’t have a game’s component ready in time, for instance a story script, it can shift the project’s deadline. Each additional month that’s shifting the release date will increase the amount of money you pay your team.