Survey: Devs turning indie for creative freedom

Survey: Devs turning indie for creative freedom

By Rob Crossley

September 7th 2011 at 12:35PM

But money concerns are putting people off, new data shows

A burning urge for creative freedom and exploring one’s individual ideas are the most significant reasons why developers go indie, a new survey suggests.

An industry-targeted questionnaire also found that the main obstacles for quitting studio work were salary issues and fears of commercial failure.

Daniel Fedor, once an Associate Producer at Bioware and now an independent developer himself, published the findings from his recent survey of more than 100 industry professionals.

More than half of the survey’s respondents were currently working for established in-house game studios, Fedor’s research showed.

And of that group, 87 per cent are considering life as an indie because they want more creative authorship. Seventy-four per cent said they want to share their ideas with the world. Fifty per cent said they want to work on different IP.

There were significant obstacles in the way, the survey found. Seventy per cent of in-house developers said they might not be able to afford an indie life. More than a third were concerned they don’t have the business credentials to make a game to generate income.

Though the study did not boast a comprehensive number of respondents (128 people took part), it echoed the long-held view that a studio of numerous creative individuals can’t satisfy everyone’s ideas with a few long-term projects.

And with the industry more hit-driven than ever, tried-and-tested game ideas often elbow out innovation. Ninja Theory creative director Tameem Antoniades yesterday said triple-A projects were “crushing innovation”.

But Fedor’s research showed there are also more practical, business-led incentives to go indie.

Of all the survey’s studio-based respondents, 50 per cent said they “wanted more than a salary and or bonus”. Forty-six per cent wanted to change their working hours.

And, while industry executives often make decisions based on emerging trends, the survey’s respondents insisted they weren’t motivated by swimming with the tide. Just 2 per cent said they are tempted to go indie “because everyone else is”.

Many of those who have made the jump to an indie livelihood say they did so with several concerns hanging over.

Forty per cent said their family’s dependence on their income was a preventing factor, while another 40 per cent feared they wouldn’t have enough cash to build and ship a game.

The full survey results can be found here.