Announcing Indie Fund


Today we are announcing a fund that provides very good terms for talented indie developers working on high-quality games.  Our terms are much friendlier than what publishers offer.  Our goal is to help indies become stronger while retaining their independence.

The past couple of years have been good for independent game developers.  Through download services like Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation Network, WiiWare, and Steam, independent developers have found a very large audience.  Some of us have been lucky enough to develop hit indie games that were very financially successful.

Braid was one of those games.  The success of Braid has allowed me to undertake more-ambitious projects like The Witness.  At the same time, I felt that I wanted to do something with the profits that would help other indies with their own games.  More recently, while talking to publishers about The Witness, I felt that the business climate around publishing and funding these smaller games had not caught up with reality: it’s a model where the standard terms are tuned for budgets in the tens of millions of dollars.  Because publishers want to stick to this model even for low-budget games, it was very hard for indie developers to get a fair deal.

It turns out that other successful indies felt the same way, so we have pooled our resources and launched this fund.  We will be announcing further details soon.  At the GDC, Ron Carmel will be giving a talk about the problems that exist in the current publishing model for indie-budget games.

We’ve had the timing of this announcement planned for a while, but it seems like some kind of strange synchronicity that we’re revealing our existence just as all this trouble is happening at Infinity Ward.  When you’re a mainstream developer, and you’ve made one of the most successful and profitable games of all time, and then just a few months later your publisher and parent company is willing to so bald-facedly mutilate your company, well, what conclusions can be drawn from that?  If publishers of that size are so megalomaniacal as to be incapable of seeing the importance of a developer’s talent — instead believing that the game’s success is somehow due primarily to their brilliant marketing strategy or their CEO’s charming personality — then how will this ever change?

If Infinity Ward can’t be treated with respect, then who can?

Independent developers can.  That’s one answer, at least.  Indie Fund is here to help make that independent existence a reality for as many talented developers as we can.

Here’s a link to the main Indie Fund site, with an email you can use to contact us.

(Cross-posted from The Witness Development Blog.)

15 Responses to “Announcing Indie Fund”

  1. increpare Says:

    I think this is a great idea – I’m really interested to see what comes out of it.

  2. Josh Becker Says:

    This is a great post, Jonathan. I don’t think there could be a better time than now to bring this to the public than during this whole Infinity Ward debacle.

    As a fan and vocal supporter of your work, as well as other independent projects such as Passage and World of Goo, I’m excited to see what great changes the Indie Fund will bring to the current video game climate.

  3. Colm Says:

    The Y Combinator of indie game development perhaps? Great move & looking forward to finding out more.

  4. Aaron Hughes Says:

    I couldn’t find a way to ask anybody this but here, so;

    Is there a possibility for ‘Braid’ to launch on the iPhone? I know for a fact it would be a HUGE hit!

  5. Josh Becker Says:

    Aaron, I think I’ve seen an interview with Jonathan where he said something about it probably not happening. Then again, I may be wrong. I’m sure he could post and clarify on here, but I think a lot of it would have to do with the platform interface and resources.

    As far as Braid’s game play mechanics are concerned, you would need movement, jump, time reverse, and ring drop. And you would probably need time speed control (forward and reverse) as well. I’m sure you could find ways to incorporate time speed to things like “tilt left” and “tilt right” on the iPhone, but I personally feel like that would hinder the game. If you tried to incorporate single- or double-finger swipes, you start getting into the realm of complex control schemes that would need to be explained in a tutorial or splash screen, which is another thing I know Jonathan wanted to avoid when making Braid (and Microsoft requires some sort of control explanation on XBLA games).

    As for the visuals, some of the details in Braid’s environment benefit from things such as particle emitters, which can be fairly taxing on a processor. And even though it’s a pretty simple 2D game, the game window is still high resolution and there is a lot going on visually. I wouldn’t think that Braid is pushing the Xbox 360 or PS3 to their limits, but it might be enough to bring the iPhone to its knees.

    But I digress, I don’t want to turn the comments on here into a forum discussion for Braid on the iPhone! Maybe it would be worth e-mailing Jonathan?

  6. Jonathan Blow Says:

    A number of publishers/developers have come to me wanting to port the game to the iPhone, but I have always turned them down. I do not think it would be possible to do a quality port of the game. It would have to be changed tremendously. You could do an interesting Braid-like game on the iPhone, but Braid itself just would not work.

    Usually people proposing to do an iPhone port say, “no, it would work great!” and then I ask them how they would make it playable and they don’t even have an answer for me — they didn’t care enough about the game to even think about any of the issues, they just wanted to do a shovelware port of a game and pick up some money for it.

  7. André Silva Says:

    Indie Fund is a dream come true,
    Art will prevail as always has.

    Best of luck and suport from Portugal

  8. Thomas Bowen Says:

    Jonathan,

    I really wanted to get in touch with you, and I wasn’t sure how to go about it, so this seemed a great place to do it.

    My team is early stages of development of an Indie game that I honestly believe could be huge (I know a lot of people say that, but I mean it!). We understand that an indie game can only be as succesful as its reputation in the ‘indie-underground’. To which we will be frequenting the community forums in the coming months getting some buzz about the game going.

    My main question is, where do I start when it comes to getting a publisher to talk to me about our game? Is there something we can do early on that will help us coming the final stages?

    We’re developing using the Unity 3D platform and have ideals about the game eventually being ported to the major consoles. I know there’s things like the ‘indie-fund’ (which is fantastic by-the-way and greatly appreciated) and the Sony Pub Fund, but we have no idea where to start.

    The most viable platform, and also seemingly the most accessbile to the indie developer at the moment seems to be Steamworks.

    Of course, we could also sell it ourselves via download, but I worry about security and piracy in this respect.

    Any input would be greatly appreciated, and thanks for Braid, you really are a pioneer in the industry.

  9. Thomas Mahler Says:

    Good stuff, Jonathan.

    Can’t wait to see what games you guys help producing.

  10. tim plum Says:

    indie fund link is down, is this temporary?

  11. Jonathan Blow Says:

    Seems that way; link works for me!

  12. Sean Says:

    Jonathan

    Why do you say Braid will not work on Iphone ? In my eyes, it is the perfect game on iphone because it uses minimal controls. There are games on Iphone waay more complex and they work great. But the best games are thoose with few controls, and Braid is one of thoose.

    What more controls are there except the the direction buttons , jump button and rewind button ?

    Would you care to explain exactly what you think would not work ?
    Even if it is not announced to Iphone, it is Highly anticipated in our wish lists.

    I think you just dont like the money. I bet there would be more gamers buying Braid on Iphone alone than gamers on all the other platforms you have released Braid on combined together.

    regards

  13. Dan Says:

    What conclusions can be drawn from the Infinity Ward trouble? That there are two sides to every story. The studio heads have been accused of stealing secrets and bringing them to the competition, so while they are obviously talented, they may have acted unethically, and that strikes me as a good reason for termination. This will be interesting to see play out, now that both sides have had their say.

  14. Jonathan Blow Says:

    Uhh…

    http://www.cynicalsmirk.com/who_remains_at_infinity_ward.html

    I think that tells you something.

  15. Jay Says:

    I have to say I’m impressed and quite glad that you stuck to your guns about the iphone port and are sincere about maintaining the quality of the game.

    Speaking of which, I know I’m a few years behind but I did finally get it and …good work, man. Good work. I’m really enjoying this so far.

    Also, it’s really great to see the quantum leap the indie game industry (well, maybe industry is a bad word, but you get the idea) has taken over the past couple years. Even better is that the quality in general of the games has taken that leap as well.

    Cheers and thanks!

    - Jay

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