Making a video game is tough, especially for small teams. Multi-year development cycles, getting the attention of publishers, passing certification, and every other obstacle under the game-development sun leads developers to carry a bit of a philosophy with them: “Every game to ever come out is a small miracle.”Prior to joining the Good Trouble team, I worked at an indie publisher. It was always our belief that the best way to celebrate the miracle release of a video game is for fans to buy the game and enjoy it, but oftentimes we’d be asked by fans about alternative ways to support the developers beyond the initial purchase. To us, meeting an enthusiastic fan who had a memorable experience with our game was enough; however, there are some bonus ways you can support your favorite indie developers. Here are just a few:
Shout them out
Believe it or not, the most powerful thing a fan can do to support their favorite indie developer takes about five minutes and doesn’t cost a single penny. By writing a positive review for a game, whether that be on Steam, Amazon, or a console’s digital storefront, players can directly influence the placement that game gets in the digital store itself. The algorithms that serve up recommendations operate in such a way that higher-reviewed games are served to potential customers at a greater rate than their competition. Should a player go browsing something like the Steam store, they’re more likely to see a game recommended by their friends and other users before a game with little engagement. If you’ve enjoyed your time with a game, be sure to give it a positive review and share your thoughts - it could make a huge difference in the game’s popularity!
Support their Patreon
It’s becoming increasingly popular for indie developers to raise funds via Patreon. The monthly-subscription-based crowdfunding site allows creators to offer increasing tiers of rewards to their subscribers that can start as low as $1 a month. Patreon rewards can include Discord access to chat with the people behind your favorite games, monthly digital goodies like downloadable wallpapers and behind-the-scenes podcasts, and even early access to test out upcoming games. While this practice isn’t used by every developer - you likely won’t find it for teams working under a publisher - this can be a great way to support extremely small teams, solo devs, mod groups, and niche projects.
Buy Merch, Soundtracks, and Physical Releases
Merchandise for games used to be an indicator that the original game was already quite successful and can now afford to manufacture shirts and figures as a bonus revenue source. These days, small-batch plushie manufacturing and vinyl record pressings allow even the smallest indie titles to earn a special spot on your display shelf with much less risk to the development team. Some great sites to browse for indie game merch are FanGamer, IAm8Bit for their collectibles, and Limited Run Games for their limited-edition physical pressings of hard-to-find games.
Another great opportunity is Bandcamp Fridays. The first Friday of every month, Bandcamp waives their transaction fees, meaning that all money from a purchase goes straight to the artist. With many game composers hosting their soundtracks on Bandcamp, you’ll often find them promoting their albums heavily on the first Friday of the month to take advantage of this promotion. If your favorite game has a soundtrack that you can’t get enough of, picking up the album from Bandcamp is an excellent way to show your love.
There are certainly many more ways to show your support for your local indie dev, from sharing cosplay of your favorite character to gifting copies of games to your friends, so we hope you use this article as a jumping off point. Of course, don’t feel guilty if you’re not able to do these things - for most developers out there, simply telling them you love the game is reward enough. Everybody loves a good compliment.
Speaking of which, you look great today. Until next time!