Indie Reality Check - Guidelines

7 min read

After observing and participating in the indie games market for some time, I’ve formulated a few strategies for indie developers to succeed.

Before we begin, here are some assumptions for indies:

  • No marketing budget
  • A team of 1 - 3 people
  • Minimal cost of living
  • A lot of passion

With these assumptions in mind, let’s move to the general guidelines for an indie developer.

Indie Reality Check - Guidelines

1. Accept the reality

Not all games are equal. Not all launches are equal. Accept the reality. Have a firm belief on Day 1 of development, that the odds are stacked against you to create something great. If we don’t succeed, that’s okay. If we do, take it as a bonus.

2. Play the lottery, but understand the odds

Statistically speaking, the odds of achieving great success on the App Stores are miniscule. The odds will decrease even more, as thousands of apps get published within the app economy per day. For each game launch, your chances of being discovered diminishes every day. However, your skill at launching games will improve, and you’re counting on that experience to help.

3. Analyze the data

The only motivation for shipping the first few games, is the data that you get back from your users. Who’s playing them? How many people are playing them? How old are they? What other games might they be interested in? Use ready-made tools to obtain this data, to zero in on your niche audience. Back in my Playtomic days, I wrote a popular blog post about analytics for games.

4. Survive longer than 1 year

The indie road is long and arduous. Your first game will likely be a flop. Your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th could also flop. Every new launch’s odds of success will not be any better than the previous. Your only advantage as an indie, is that you can pour as much heart and soul into the project. You can control the game experience. To do this requires a lot of meticulous work : meaning time is essential.

How do you buy time? By making sure you have enough to survive within your means in the real-world. Save up that money, do that side consulting gig to bring in some bacon, but spend the majority of your efforts on the game polish. More importantly, stay healthy. Surviving for more than 1 year, will give you the ability to build 3-5 medium sized games.

5. “Be the next you”

I got the above quote from Mark Cuban’s interview. This means: don’t aim to build the next generation Clash of Clans, or Candy Crush. Instead, find your inner voice, and build around that. Everyone has a purpose in this world. Everyone is quirky in a way, and it’s okay to express that into an art form via games.

6. Be good, be everywhere

Being good on iOS alone will not make you successful. Be on Android, Windows, Desktop, Console. Technologies such as HTML5 have matured in a way that it’s possible to build a game, and launch it to 3-4 different mediums within days. Do you research online, compare different solutions and decide on a viable one.

At MarketJS, we work on a bunch of interesting things with HTML5, ranging from development to distribution solutions. We managed to port HTML5 code bases into native iOS and Android games within a day. This allows us to easily cover web, mobile web, and native platforms. It’s an awesome feat, and wasn’t technically possible a year ago.

If HTML5 is not your cup of tea, try other solutions such Haxe, or Unity. There’s plenty of room to experiment as an indie. Get your hands on the latest tools.


I hope this blog post will shed more light onto the everyday struggles of the indie developer, and how to plan around them. There is no magical pill that cures all this. Have lots of fun developing, but keep the reality check on standby.

Focus Life Games Strategy Self-Development

About the blog

MarketJS is a company that leverages HTML5 to provide cross-platform solutions to clients. We have been serving clients since 2012.

About MarketJS

MarketJS offers a variety of products and services:

  1. We operate a B2B Marketplace for other companies and brands to license high quality games.
  2. We help companies reskin existing games from our portfolio.
  3. We operate game feed for clients.
  4. We partner with high traffic channels to engage and monetize their users.
  5. We design and develop custom games for brands.
  6. We develop game solutions for taxis, airlines, hospitals, schools and more.
  7. We build playable ads for app and gaming companies.

How to reach us

We can be reached at support at marketjs dot com.

What our clients say about us

"We found MarketJS very easy to work with, and were impressed with how quickly they delivered and responded to our questions."

Rebecca MacDonald, VP of Marketing, Active Navigation

"MarketJS was very easy to work with, and they were always responsive to our questions and requests"

Jeff Robertson, Vice President of Technology & Operations, Carbon8

"MarketJS consistently delivers quality games on time and on budget. They are a great partner."

Scott Sheppard, President and CTO, MoZeus

"We had a great experience working with MarketJS. They were able to move fast on a tight timeline project and deliver exactly what we required with record time and quality. Definitely will be working with them on future projects to help bring our client’s digital needs to life."

Lauren Boutette, Account Director, Lumency

"MarketJS went above and beyond to deliver our projects tailored to our needs. Very swift and quick response and turnaround time. Highly recommended."

Yazan Al Tamimi, Account Manager, Socialize Agency

"Thanks so much for the work your team did. MarketJS was able to work with us to create a custom solution that exceeded our expectations."

Mike Davis, Sales Manager, ComQi

"We are really satisfied with MarketJS. They are quick to help with any troubleshooting and implementation."

Liliya H., Content Specialist, Telecoming

"It was a great pleasure working with MarketJS, they really helped thinking along with our needs. The delivery of the content was always quick and every custom request we had was possible to develop."

Willem van Ditzhuijzen, Business Development, CreativeClicks

"We are extremely happy with the content and service which MarketJS has provided us."

Matt McPherson, Director / Strategic Accounts , Wildtangent

"MarketJS provided excellent support and responded well to ad-hoc requests."

Seah Li-Wei, Project Manager, Spoon Creative

"MarketJS collaborated with our team really well and delivered quality work."

Kevin MacDonald, CTO, TeachTown

"MarketJS has been outstanding; they were patient and very helpful in delivering quality service that matches our custom game requirements."

Marlon Santos, Researcher and Senior Software Engineer, University of Sydney

"We've worked with MarketJS on a number of games now and always find them to be easy and efficient to work with."

Ben Gilbert, Project Manager, Ichi Worldwide

"We are very pleased working with MarketJS, it was far above our expectations in terms of deliverables."

Didier Seevraz, Digital Media Specialist, Lottotech

"MarketJS was fast, responsive and very customer focused. It was a pleasure to work with them."

Bryan Wursten, Senior Digital Editor, Boy Scouts of America

Interested? Request a free consultation

Our team shall be in touch within 12 hours.

Note: Please use your corporate email address. We currently do not accept inquiries from email providers.

     In order for MarketJS to respond to my inquiry, I agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy of this website.
     I would like to subscribe to the MarketJS newsletter, for the latest games, case studies and products
Why subscribe to our newsletter? Thousands of executives and key decision-makers rely on our monthly newsletter for game ideas to boost their business.

  • - One of our subscribers (and client) captured over 500k USD worth of business from one game idea alone.
  • - Another subscriber (later turned long-term client) generated an ROI of 300% on their monthly ad spend. They spend 8 figures US dollars each month on paid user acquisition, hence new game ideas matter to them.
  • - Another subscriber (and also loyal customer), a publicly listed company with over 30,000 employees is using our monthly game ideas to motivate and encourage positive behavior throughout their organization.