How Can I Be A Commercial Game Dev Other Than Selling A Game?

03 May

I am (and my team mates/friends also) are nearing the end of our studies and we have to consider all of the ways game development exists in a commercial market other than make a game and sell it. In our recent journey through studio 3 and working with New Intelligence we were following one of those alternate paths than ‘make a game & sell it’.

We’ve been introduced to a Business Model Canvas.

Business Model Canvas.gif

A Business Model Canvas

I’d love the possibility to continue doing contract work as a UI/UX Designer. So what steps would I take to set up my own business model canvas if I was to pursue this line of work?

1. Customer Segments

Who are my clients? Anyone who has UI or UX. Sure, but more specifically what is the client’s audience? How large of a project am I taking on and whats the time frame they need it in? I’d like to start off on very small scoped projects and as my skills and confidence and contract work experience grow and solidify, expand the horizons and start to join larger teams and projects. Starting with any of the connections I’ve made in university, then onto any of the internet’s very small-sized games who require the assistance of a UI designer. Slowly building the confidence (with possibilities) to move onto to larger games that reach a larger audience.

To me, my goal isn’t to work on large-scale games for the purpose that those games reach more people and more people get to see my work. Sure that’s cool and all, but the goal is to work on a game where my skill set is required, trusted and effectively utilized enough to accomplish the goals that game sets out to achieve. The larger the audience the larger the scale for scrutiny. The goal to work towards larger projects is to push myself as a designer, to constantly be getting better.

2. Value Propositions

What do I bring to the table?

  • To deliver content that achieves its intended experience.
  • To not make users think about what they have to do.
  • To make UI
    • Useful
    • Learnable
    • Memorable
    • Effective
    • Efficient
    • Desirable
    • Delightful

3. Channels

Now that we know who our customers are, and what we are offering, we need to think about how we are going to find customers and what the best channels for doing so is. We found a process that outlines how we would go about finding clients, listed below.

  1. Explore our existing connections.
  2. Reach out and make new ones.
  3. Self advertise on social media, kickstarter, exhibitions
  4. Setting up a meeting to sign contracts and further pitch our service and support. Define handover and future support. Platform updates?
  5. Ongoing consultations as develop the final product.
  6. Ongoing support/updates.

4. Customer Relationships

What type of relationship does each of our customer segment expect us to establish or maintain?

  1. Initial point of contact with our customers, whether it’s online or in person.
  2. Show existing work, or current work in progress.
  3. If spiked interest put together a Concept to give a preview of what we could offer them. Depending on my experience with UI/UX design and the scale of the potential work load, this could be paid work. Paid concept work is a small cost to see potential and still low risk. Phrasing it as ‘and then you don’t have to pay anymore if you don’t feel it’s going the right direction’ would be helpful.
  4. After a green light with the concept, would get a contract signed and move forward into development.
  5. After handover we would have an ongoing relationship. This will vary largely depending on the contract signed and the amount of support/updates needed post handover. This would include setting up lines of communication that won’t go out of action.

5. Revenue Stream

From what sources and how am I going to get revenue?

Concept development – offering this service for free would be too much of a gamble if they didn’t choose to pursue my services afterwords. It’d be like asking a tattoo parlour to tattooist to draft a tattoo for free, then doing it and the customer walking away saying no thanks. It’s a waste of time especially if it’s repetitive. The small amount of money for these individuals or teams shouldn’t matter. And if it does then they probably aren’t seriously interested anyway or willing to invest.

What about content delivery?
This again comes down to the scope of the project or the workload I’m taking on. If it’s a rather large project and for risk management sake, there would be milestones set and payments to be received in order to continue work. This allows them to pull out of the project at any of these milestones and we are still payed for our work. I’d also compare this to what others in the team are getting paid and the amount of work that is asked of me in what time frame.

6. Key Resources

What are some of the resources that this project and business model would need?

  • Software and a place to work. Whether this is at home, while travelling, in a collaborative work space or even in my own work space. Which software I’m using and is there any upfront costs or costs to be accounted for?
  • A list of production costs.
  • Intellectual rights on their work and mine. Agree on who owns what.
  • Human resources – in this case at this current point I or my client might have to outsource art – because art is not my strong point.

7. Key Activities

What are the core activities that I will be undertaking?

  • Content Design – Concept development, what I bring to the table.
  • Content Creation – Create the content.
  • Content Implementation – Implement the content to be usable.
  • UI/UX advice – guide the client and justify reasoning for my choices through experience in this field of expertise.
  • Content Refinement – Make it the best it can be.
  • Content Polish – Make it super juicy or clean and delightful to use or see.
  • Relationship Maintenance – Continue to collaborate and keep contact with client.
  • Delivery – Present content to the client.
  • Support and Updates – ongoing support.

8. Key Partners

These are the key people/companies I could be working with

  • The client – ultimately they’re the ones I’m designing for.
  • Game Designers
  • Game Developers
  • Indie Developers
  • Indie Studios
  • Studios
  • Large Studios
  • Artists
  • Programmers
  • Platform Owners – Unity, Unreal, 3DS max, Blender, AI, Photoshop, Windows, SourceTree, Github, ETC.
  • Customers – the people actually using the product
  • Bank – If I need financial support.

9. Cost Structure

What are the costs to consider while doing this line of work?

  • Living costs
    • Location
    • Vehicle
    • Food
    • Water
    • Internet
  • Travel costs, accommodation.
  • Face to face meetings – wine and dine, self living costs.
  • Equipment and software – platform, licensing, work space.
  • Marketing – website costs.
  • Salaries.
  • Legal costs.

While this is a very general business model plan, it’s hard to be to specific at the moment with so many variables. This isn’t a comprehensive list of all of the things that could possibly go under these headings, because that would make for an extremely long read, plus I think there are people who actually teach this type of thing to a professional capacity.

Until next time –



Image and Video

Business Model Canvas Osterwalder, A. (2013). A Better Way to Think About Your Business Model. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

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Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Uncategorized


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