What Is An Indie Game Developer? A Definition

The term indie game developer, or indie dev, is synonymous with indie games, but what is an indie game developer? And what do they do? In this article, we explore these questions.

An indie game developer is one person or a small team who makes games while keeping creative control by working independently of large studios and publishers. This creative freedom allows them to create unique, innovative and surprising games that would not be possible inside the system.

What does an indie game developer do?

The natural answer to this question is that they make games! But there’s a lot more to it than that. A solo indie game developer is responsible for everything that goes into making a game, from the initial idea to the art, programming, and even marketing. Indie developers who work in a studio will have a more defined role, such as a game designer or video game programmer. By having a clear role, developers can specialise and gain deep knowledge in specific aspects of game creation.

What skills do indie game devs need?

Indie game developers require a diverse and intricate set of skills associated with various aspects of game creation. Proficiency in programming languages like C++ or C# or a visual scripting tool is essential, coupled with profound knowledge of game engine usage, such as Unity or Unreal Engine. These tools aid in the development of high-quality graphics, smooth gameplay, and compelling storylines.

A solid understanding of user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) designs is also crucial, especially for mobile games that possess different dimensions and interfaces than desktop games. Since indie development often means working with fewer resources, project management skills, creativity, and a knack for problem-solving are also indispensable for an independent developer.

Oh, and let’s not forget Marketing. Knowing how to promote your game is one of the most important skills for becoming a successful indie. In fact, poor marketing is the number one most indie games fail. We wrote an article about that here: Why Do Indie Games Fail? (5 Surprising Reasons).

What education is needed to be an indie game developer?

Many successful independent game developers have educational backgrounds in computer science or art-related subjects, but a college degree is not a requirement to become a developer. All the skills required to become an indie game developer can be learned through self-study and practice in making games. There are many great resources online for learning game development, both free and paid.

If you’re looking for some resources for learning game development, take a look at:

How much does an indie game developer make?

The average salary of a solo indie game developer ranges from $35,000 to $200,000 per year, depending on the success of their games. For developers working in the games industry at a games studio, an average game developer in the United States can expect to earn $73,750 / year, while in the UK, it’s £38,825 / year.

If you’re eager to learn more about this topic, check out:

What is the difference between indie game dev and AAA game dev?

Indie games are generally developed by small teams or solo developers with little budget but complete creative control where they can take more risks. Whereas large studios develop AAA games with budgets of millions of dollars, these AAA studios are often backed by investors, so they are more limited in the creative risks they can take.

Notable indie game development studios include Supergiant Games, The Behemoth, and Team 17. Indie game devs come and go, but all these studios have stayed the course and released multiple projects.

Aron Marriott-Smith

Aron is a hobbyist indie game developer. Before building this website, Aron spent many years helping businesses market their products and services.

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