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Subject: Who here actually makes money off designing games? rss

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Lunderful Games
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Hi everyone,
I'm reflectively new to the forum and love it! I have two game ideas that I'm currently working on. It seems like there are a lot of people on this site that know what they are doing and talking about. I was wondering if there are a lot of people on here actual make money making games either as their full time job or just some extra cash on the side? Obviously not asking people to throw out numbers, just curious...

Thanks!
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Ian Rutherford
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Probably only Alan Moon and Klaus Teuber make any real money, though there are people doing it full time. Most anyone in the industry is doing it for the love of the hobby not the comparatively tiny amount of money they get for the work they put in.
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Markus Hagenauer jr.
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I make some extra money, but I´m far from earning my living through designing games.
My games by nestorgames only earn me a double-digit sum per year, and with Wilde Meuterei I will most likely not rach the four-digit-range either.

I think there are a couple of dozed designers who earn their living,
and some more who can designing games as main job because they have inhereted a lot, their wives earns the living or just because they are verry undemanding.
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Robert Seater
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I have made about -$200, which I consider a windfall.
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J C Lawrence
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I know a few full time game designers. My total earnings have been less than a mortgage payment.
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Sen-Foong Lim
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I know a few full-timers as well. If I didn't have a wife and kids, I'd try to make a go of it. But I like having them around, so looks like I won't be quitting my dayjobs anytime soon! Once the kids are done college, however... Maybe I'll be able to pursue this "jobby" more fully.
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Alan Kaiser
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bruno faidutti
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once said that the only game he ever really made any money off of was Citadels. This was as of several years ago but still, he's got more than a few games under his belt from a large variety of publishers going back more than 10 years. Last I heard he was still teaching, so I wouldn't quite my day job anytime soon. Consider yourself lucky if you break even.
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John "Omega" Williams
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I did ok within my area of expertise. But I was handling everything and so was saving immensely over anyone else.
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Luke Morris
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I make a few £ off every copy of my games I sell, but with design and construction time factored in, my "pay" is about 5 pence per hour.
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Christopher Dearlove
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Vooodooo84 wrote:
Probably only Alan Moon and Klaus Teuber make any real money


The list is short, but not that short. Reiner Knizia is not hurting. Maureen Hiron (yes, you're going to say who?) has made some real money, and Richard Garfield cleaned up. I'm not suggesting that's the full list either.

(There are also the people who design and publish, but only their own games, and survive from that double function. Martin Wallace for one, others I presume fall here but don't know for definite don't also have a mundane job, for example Friedmann Friese.)
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Markus Hagenauer jr.
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Dearlove wrote:

Maureen Hiron (yes, you're going to say who?) has made some real money.

She is the best example to show that the BGG ranks do not represent the market.
She has no game among the top 3000 but I guess she makes more money form designing games than Vlaada Chvátil, Uwe Rosenberg, Andreas Seyfarth, Friedemann Friese, Martin Wallace and Stefan Feld together.

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John duBois
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The best way to make a living wage as a game designer is to be a salaried staff designer for a large corporation (Hasbro, GW, etc). Even then, it's really hard to make a career of it because of how cyclical the game industry is - you're likely to get laid off and re-hired (or hired elsewhere) many times dependent primarily on the balance sheet of the company and whether you've been there long enough to make more than the other people in your position.
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Greg
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I'm in the really odd (Possibly unqiue? Not seen anyone else claim the same yet) position of being a salaried staff game designer for a small company of about twenty people. It's an experiment for the company and for me and I've no idea how or whether it'll work in the long run.

If things go well and we make a profit off my first few games then we've got another designer hire lined up so as well as loving my job I've got the nice feeling that if I do well I can create more job(s) like it for other people.

On the other hand if things go poorly then after a year or so the experiment will be failed and I'll be looking for a new job. So I'm feeling some pressure.

Money wise I think that everyone who goes into game design takes a pay cut. I've studied hard and obtained my PhD, I could make three or four times what I do here going into relevant research or industrty.

But then I wouldn't be making games for a living.
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There is a reason Feld has like 3 games coming out in a year; it's the only way to earn a living. Even after Pandemic and Forbidden Island, Leacock was working full-time at his regular job (maybe not anymore but I suspect that he is). According to something I read in Speilbox a while back there are really only a handful of full-time game designers so while my husband and I have been working on designing games, we only ever see it as something that can maybe supplement my income and help a little bit while he is a stay at home dad. More than that, though, we do it because we really *like* doing it.
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Joe Huber

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How much I've made (well, lost) designing games depends upon how you count it.

But perhaps the easiest way is - in the past decade, I've made more than I've spent in - exactly one year. Most years it's not even close.
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Bryan Laird
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x_equals_speed wrote:
I'm in the really odd (Possibly unqiue? Not seen anyone else claim the same yet) position of being a salaried staff game designer for a small company of about twenty people. It's an experiment for the company and for me and I've no idea how or whether it'll work in the long run.

If things go well and we make a profit off my first few games then we've got another designer hire lined up so as well as loving my job I've got the nice feeling that if I do well I can create more job(s) like it for other people.

On the other hand if things go poorly then after a year or so the experiment will be failed and I'll be looking for a new job. So I'm feeling some pressure.

Money wise I think that everyone who goes into game design takes a pay cut. I've studied hard and obtained my PhD, I could make three or four times what I do here going into relevant research or industrty.

But then I wouldn't be making games for a living.


I recently got into game design, mainly because I'm going to school for Game Art and Design (Video Games) and wanted to share the love with my other hobby. I only recently finished my first board game after many hours of brainstorming and play testing, and comparing the results from other play testers.
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Filip W.
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HamsterOfFury wrote:
I make a few £ off every copy of my games I sell, but with design and construction time factored in, my "pay" is about 5 pence per hour.


Dude! You're, like, in the top percentile!
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Lunderful Games
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Haha, funny stuff. Thanks for the input! That's kinda what I was thinking
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Grant Rodiek
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I've lost money.
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Matt Pierce
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This all just makes me glad I have more than one area of expertise.. though this hobby has been quickly taking over my life.
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Steven Metzger
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I've spent probably $100 total on materials (which I still have a large amount of) over the last 3 years, and have been gifted some hardware (printer, paper cutter). I've made $0 through game design.

However, I learned Inkscape in my desire to design games, and the experience I've gained has given me extra responsibilities and hours at my regular job, doing some basic graphic design work. I can probably honestly say that I've gotten an extra $1000 due to these extra projects over the last 8 months...but none of them are games
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Tom Razo
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Game design along with self-publication requires an incredible amount of time and effort...

Game design for most is a labor of love...

I have already lost a small fortune in time and money pursuing a dream of self-publication... Yet I continue with the pursuit of publication on a daily basis... It's complete madness I tell you...

Welcome to the club...
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Chevee Dodd
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I only have one published design, but it is from a very large publisher... and I can't claim to be profitable with it.

I put together a summary of my expenses and earnings for last year as an indie trying to break out and get more games done.
http://www.cheveedodd.com/discuss/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=136


I've earned ~$1,500 with Scallywags so far. If the first print run sells out, I'll earn ~$4,000 total. That's pretty significant when compared to a hobby publisher that sells only a few thousand copies of a game. If you factor in all the costs of prototypes, promotional materials, and travel... well... I'll be in the hole.
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Travis Worthington
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The Industry is growing, so I suspect the list is much longer than you might suspect but populated by names that might not jump out at you from reading BGG. The trick is to either design a SdJ winner (which is like a lottery ticket) or a game that stays on the shelves of game stores for years and years.

Some designers get "lucky", and a single great idea (and follow up) leads to a lifetime of royalty payments. Others truly approach game design as a profession working and are successful through hard work and diligent approach.

I am not sure that you need to do it full time to be successful. The game design process is as much about inspiration as it is perspiration. Great ideas on their own don't make a great game design, likewise lots of work doesn't make a game great. You need both, and like many creative activities some people are more inclined to be successful then others.

And yes, as a publisher I am constantly looking for great games. The question I think you always have to ask about your game design when seeking publication is whether your friends and your playtesters are asking to play them over and over again. That, more than theme, components, artwork etc is what marks a game for long term success.
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Kevin O
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What about Kickstarter firsts like Adam Poots who brought in over 2 million, now I'm sure he's only gonna have a small percentage of that left by time alls said and done, but still a small percentage of 2 million is still good cash. . .
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