How much money can you realistically make ona RPG maker game?

nksx

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Would love to hear how much some of the commercial devs here have made on average a project.
 

Lunesis

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That's like asking somebody's salary, they probably don't want to share. But if you're looking to make some cash, you'd be better off making assets to sell to devs instead of making a game to sell on Steam (unless your game is the next Omori or Stardew Valley or whatever). Make games because you love games, the money should be secondary because you're probably not gonna make a whole lot.
 

nankada

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I just released the game in my sig yesterday. Based on the performance so far, future projections, and marketing outreach difficulties, I can say I'm EXTREMELY glad I didn't quit my day job to pursue it full time.
 

Indinera

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Full time indie dev here.
The only realistic answer is anything between 0 and infinite (OK maybe a bit less). It depends on countless factors.
If you want an average of how much an rm game makes, probably not a lot. Stand out or die trying.
 

bgillisp

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Varies. I've seen Steam games that (per convo with the dev) sold a whole 9 copies. As it is I have one released game and have made about $3000 on it (after pub. cuts and steam cuts and such).

However...note this is really not much different than it was before steam. I've heard of shareware games from the 80s that one player played recently and decided to register it and the author said it was the first registeration he had gotten for the game ever. Also in an interview with one of the big name studios back in the 80s/90s they revealed that on average this is what happened:

1 of 10 games of theirs made it big.
2 of 10 games of theirs made enough in sales to do better than break even, but were not major hits.
7 of 10 games of theirs flopped and either were never finished, or didn't sell enough to pay for the cost to make the game.
 
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I just released the game in my sig yesterday. Based on the performance so far, future projections, and marketing outreach difficulties, I can say I'm EXTREMELY glad I didn't quit my day job to pursue it full time.

It's worth noting that marketing a game (for commercial purposes) is in of itself a day job, but most devs don't seem to risk going that far.

As such, the reach of most indie games (not just RPGmaker games) seems to stop at a few sporadic posts across social media, if even that much.
 

TheouAegis

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I just released the game in my sig yesterday. Based on the performance so far, future projections, and marketing outreach difficulties, I can say I'm EXTREMELY glad I didn't quit my day job to pursue it full time.
It's suck, eh? Your game look very good
 

lianderson

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This one has made only a few grand after years of work. Don't gam mak if you need money! Praise be.
 

ShadowDragon

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here are a fe factors to keep in mind for a nice commercial game
while no game is bug free:

Story: it must fit and be a great story to go through, smoothing, emotions,
and others may be included.

Adventure: adventure through nice maps and towns to explore the world

Graphics: best to be unique own created

Battle: battle looks, mechanic, skills, visual etc needs be best outstanding to
watch and needs to have its unique purpose.

others: dungeons, bosses, puzzles, weapons etc etc, can be unique in its kind.

while most rpg maker use plugins here, most keep it the same without altering
it as it looks, but mostly add some things.

there are way more factor, and if people like it or not, trailer and demo can be
a good thing and see if the people are drawed to keep continue the game by
purchasing it, or let them donate if they can, so the price can vary.

but every game is unique in its story and gameplay etc, some only sold 4 copies
in a year, others 40, but it depends what people wants to play and if its fun.

some games I played are nice, but online MMO that is big or single player game
can sometimes be hard to overcome, so it's hard to know what a dev could earn.
 

Plueschkatze

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I can support what others told you, don't expect much. Only a few indie games go into the 5 figures realm and beyond within their first year or at all. Sad to say so~
 

Andar

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With an RPG-Maker based game you have the problem that before making any money you have to stand out compared to other games in that long list.
Some people try to do this by lowering the price, but that also means less income.
And using custom resources is either work-intense (if you are an artist yourself) or cost-intense (if you have to pay artists).

But there is one aspect of standing out that has not yet been mentioned by anyone, and that is fame.
If you are known to create decent games, more people are willing to purchase them than if you are an unknown new developer.

There are a few people who can live on selling their RM-games and that have decent numbers when selling, but those usually got there by their tenth game or so.
The numbers for the first game of a new developer will always be bad and never get as high as the numbers given above, and that can only be overcome by continuing good work in game developing while getting food from other, non-related work.
 

BCj

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I don't agree with the fact that the first game tends to sell badly. I know a RPG Maker game hat did very well on KS and had a good future/prospect ahead - except as far as I can tell they made some terrible financial choices, and the game is left as a glorified early access game, with a disappeared dev.
 

Pots Talos

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I made decent money on my first title, less than I'd hoped for but I had unrealistic expectations.
It was enough for me to fund my next game though so I'll consider that a win.

The goal now is for my second title to double the profit I made from the first. If I can do that I'll probably quit my day job and focus full time on game development.
 

Plueschkatze

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I always wonder how many on here actually are fulltime devs that can live from their games, probably only a hand full.

Good point on the fame aspect @Andar . A dev that has build up an audience for sure has a higher likelyhood for their next game to do at least decent and get some visibility, and with enough wishlists a better spot on steam for the release etc.
 

tiabuni

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For the common user, the engine used to make a game doesn't matter. There are a few things to keep in mind. The elitist kind of folk who look down on RPG Maker games are not your audience, and the "wow dude" players who are flabbergasted by shiny, realistic graphics or next gen particle effects are also not your audience.

But there are plenty of people who buy indie games. It is unlikely that you are going to replicate the success of games such as Undertale, but it is a good example of a game with bad graphics that sold well. Yes, bad graphics - The character design is stellar, 10/10 IMO, but the actual graphics are all over the place. There is no cohesive style. Of course, the game offers like 50 other reasons to buy it, and Toby Fox had a decent following before announcing the game, so that is useful to keep in mind.

It is important to get rid of default assets, too. I am not discouraging people from making games, but if you can't make or pay for unique art, you should be realistic about the commercial viability of your project. You can write the best story in a game, ever and have the most fun and unique mechanics. You will still have to be extremely lucky for your game to succeed if it doesn't look at least decent, unique and charming. A good rule of thumb is that you have less than 15 seconds to capture a person's attention with your game in its Steam page, and the first thing people see is the visual art.

I decided to start making a commercial game in 2017. Four years ago. I am still halfway through making it, and do you want to know why? Because I put the time into learning. Months of learning to draw with online classes, then one year of drawing classes. I have been practicing writing since then, too, while studying (there is so much material to learn on the internet). I tried to learn programming, too - but it was too ambitious of a goal, and I move to RPG Maker and accepted some of the things I wanted to do wouldn't be possible, in terms of mechanics. It is difficult, but it is August 2021 and I have a good product on my hands. There still a lot to do, but I can finally start thinking about the second, and probably most important thing about releasing a commercial game: The marketing.

You can make really good money if you make a good game, and MARKET IT WELL. Marketing is honestly more important than the actual game, when it comes to sales. Of course, if the game is bad, no marketing in the world can make it popular, the game's reach will be very limited due to nonexistent word of mouth... But if you make a good game, and don't market it well, then it doesn't matter how good the game is: No one knows about it, no one will play it.

Here is a good website on marketing games (it is not mine, I am not self plugging):


A good video from one of the creators of Crypt of the Necrodancer, regarding profitable indie games:

 

TheouAegis

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PC games are obsoleted in these day. RPG Maker games are even worse.
Making games was something in the past.
You want to make money? Better aim for becoming full time dev for some Game Company.
 

tiabuni

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PC games are obsoleted in these day. RPG Maker games are even worse.
Making games was something in the past.
You want to make money? Better aim for becoming full time dev for some Game Company.
On the contrary, some big companies have reported recently that their games are selling very well on PC, especially compared to 10 years ago, when there was zero incentive for companies to release and / or port games for PC.

Also, making games becomes simpler every year. 10 years ago you had to learn Game Maker, or use some outdated, simplistic version of RPG Maker. Now even some big engines offer visual scripting, or blueprints, for those less inclined towards programming.

If anything games made by smaller teams will become more and more popular with time. There is a lot more freedom and creativity when devs are not held down by shareholders. That is not to say there is no creativity in the AAA industry, but those games tend to be a lot more... sterile, so they can appeal to wider audiences. Meanwhile, small devs HAVE to focus on precise audiences, we just can't attempt to please everyone.

Also, lots of people were influenced by solo devs and small teams who released fantastic games in the past decade. ConcernedApe (Stardew Valley), Scott Cawthon (Five Nights at Freddy), Toby Fox (Undertale), the two dudes who made Nuclear Throne, the list goes on.

RPG Maker games aren't going to anywhere, just look at Omori. I also think She Dreams Elsewhere will sell pretty nicely, and so will my game (modesty? what is that?). I can see RPG Maker fading away once more robust engines heavily improve on their visual scripting and similar approaches to making games.

I also don't think devs working for big companies make that much money, save for those in top positions such as the game director or people with years, decades of work on their portfolios.

Your post sounds like bait, but I felt like it was good opportunity to voice some thoughts.
 
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It's worth noting that a crap ton of indie games put up on Steam DO NOT meet modern standards of quality, and quite a few don't even meet beginner's level of quality. A lot of people find out the hard way that just playing lots of games doesn't make one automatically good at making a game. For commercial games, people will judge (and review) more harshly because they expect better quality for their money, and WILL have their payment refunded if the game they're playing isn't good enough for them. Of course, nobody will even know the quality if nobody tries the game in the first place, which is where marketing comes in.

Expanding on my previous post on this thread, based on my research:

EVERY little detail matters when marketing a game, and marketing a game WELL requires research, planning, AND hard work (hard work alone usually won't be enough). For RPG Maker games on Steam, I've seen mangled spelling/grammar on store pages, boring trailers/screenshots, poor attempts at picking representative dialogue scenes, lack of transparency from the devs, boring descriptions of the games, and poorly designed logos/banners. A single mistake could potentially cut your sales in half (or more). There's also a matter of marketing reach - posting on social media and forums is probably not enough, and relying on word-of-mouth is laughable, especially for first-time sellers.

You can spend lots of money and time in making a game, but if the quality of marketing is not up to reasonable standards, customers will not be convinced to even try your game no matter how much you try to say it's good. As such, part of the game's budget should be saved for marketing the game, and marketing the game should not be an afterthought to the game's development. There are many different marketing methods to try as well.
 

jkweath

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Realistically, I'd be surprised if an RM game released nowadays--with default assets and very little/no marketing--ever sold more than 50 copies in its lifetime, maybe a hundred if the quality of the game is high enough. But it's worth saying that the quality of your game is irrelevant if nobody knows about it.

I'm currently sitting at eight commercial games and, after having run two successful (but small) Kickstarters, I can say that my income from gamedev is only enough to supplement my full-time job. I live comfortably thanks to that, but it's still nowhere near enough for me to live off of by itself--maybe if I were a single man living in a cheap apartment, but alas, I have a family of four and a mortgage.

I'm gonna second everyone else's thoughts and say that marketing is absolutely necessary if you want to make any income at all (you also need to have an idea that's worth marketing to begin with, but that's a whole other topic). If you're not willing to put in the work to do that, then you'll either need to hire someone to do it for you, or accept that the time spent on your commercial project might only result in an extra cup of coffee or two.

I always wonder how many on here actually are fulltime devs that can live from their games, probably only a hand full.

Good point on the fame aspect @Andar . A dev that has build up an audience for sure has a higher likelyhood for their next game to do at least decent and get some visibility, and with enough wishlists a better spot on steam for the release etc.

I can only think of two people who have been or still are apart of the RPGMakerWeb boards that gamedev full-time.
 
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