Commercial homebrew

I’m oblivious to (and admittedly not particularly interested in) the legality of it but I’d be interested to hear what people think about the idea of non free (in terms of beer style freeness) video game console homebrew. Its something I’ve been thinking about lately.

As I see it here are the arguments for and against it.

Pros: I might be able to make some money which would be nice and may even cover the cost of things that would help with future homebrew developments. I have a tendency to abandon games when I become more interested in something else and if I was expecting some form of monetary reward upon completion of a game then I would be more encouraged to actually complete it. If people had already bought a game that was still in beta then I would definitely feel an obligation to complete it for them.

Cons: Its a blatantly self serving jerk move that would limit the accessibility of a game (or at least until someone buys it and then posts it elsewhere for others to pirate which I would be obviously unable and honestly unwilling to stop). Regardless of its success the simple existence of for profit homebrew normalizes the concept and encourages others to do the same which could over time erode the currently free homebrew scene (on the upside I feel confident that I’m not at all influential and I doubt that I could really cause or contribute to trends in any homebrew scene in any meaningful way).

Would you be willing to buy a homebrew game? What would you be willing to pay and what kind of experience would you be expecting for that price? Would you be interested in pre ordering / buying into a beta in the way that Wolfire is selling Overgrowth?

In the event that you approve of the selling of original homebrew could you recommend a middleman to facilitate the process? I would prefer to not need to spend money upfront paying for hosting or anything like that. I’m assuming that relatively few people would be interested so I suppose I could just manually monitor paypal transactions and email people the files and/or provide them access to a Dropbox account with the files or something like that…

On a related note 8-Bit Funding is a delightful idea deserving of recognition. Although I’m unsure of whether or not they actually hosts files to be made available to funders (it would be understandable if they didn’t considering that its intended for incomplete games) or if the site is just intended to act as an advertiser and leaves it up to the developers to handle everything including distribution based on the provided names/addresses of funders.

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16 Responses to Commercial homebrew

  1. Jonathan says:

    I’d like to give my input, hopefully it will be of some use to you. As far as the “self serving jerk” line, I don’t think that’s something to be concerned with. If people are willing to pay you for entertainment, then awesome. As far as the actual financing goes, it’s kind of a difficult situation. Looking at wolfire, they already self funded a game prior to overgrowth, showing a certain level of skill and motivation along with garnering them a large enough fan base to get started. If you went their path, you would have to start off development without any backing until you can start convincing people to give you money. Either that or you could try something like Kickstarter, which I think more often than not fails unless you have a really amazing proposal and enough of a start to convince people with. Either way, I think my advice would be to start with a smaller, achievable project that you wouldn’t expect to charge a lot for. Based on your previous projects, I think people might be afraid to support ongoing development when you tend to drop things quickly(no offense, just that you even admit to getting disinterested quickly). If you continue development on an idea, people will become convinced as time goes on. Anyway, I hope this rambling message is useful to you. Good luck.

  2. EmersonS35 says:

    I like the idea. It depends on the game. If it maze generator, I probably wont spend money on it. But if it’s a “the untitled project” that has potential to grow to a huge game, ya. I’d buy it.
    Now for a middleman, I could do that, I have connects to all sorts of forums and such.
    I like the idea but you should do small projects for free so people get interested, and be like “this is a really good dev” and then buy the game. About piracy there’s nothing much you can do, unless you wanna spend a lot more time on it.
    Another thing you could do for medium sized projects Is sharecash it, so you’d make 60 cents per download, te person would be happy and you would be happy.
    But for big projects definitly make it like $5 or so.
    Or even have a “premium section” or something were you donate $15-$$20 and you’ll have access to all the games..
    Idk just some ideas. I’ll be willing to help in anyway I can.

  3. emersons35 says:

    i got another idea and i’ll email this to you also,
    ok so i think you should make coding tutorials. like a series. sharecash them and post them all over the place.
    $0.60/each times 1000+ downloads/each tut. thats $600 for like 1-4 hours of work.
    do like a video tutorial or like a ebook type thing would work, with pictures.
    you could include the source code for each one with dev comments explaining it in the code.
    if its a long tutorial you could split it into parts and make even more money.
    kinda like lazyfoo’s SDL tutorial except for ps3. using PS3 SDK.
    i love love tuts like these. i would definitly pay for them.

    Some Ideas for Tutorials:

    1. hello world text
    2. hello picture
    3. hello video
    4. hello friend (userinputs there name, and says hello name)
    5. button pressing (“your pressed x”,ect.)
    6. button actions (x to exit, ect.)
    7. filesystem
    8. simple text menu
    9. quad rendering( press Triangle and a picture appears)

    this is just some of mine, but im sure you can come up with some crazy good ideas.

    • ThatOtherDev says:

      Do you by any chance work for sharecash or something? lol. Its not a site that I’ve seen anyone else host anything on. I notice that even the files on your dev blog are hosted exclusively on megaupload. So I’m sure you can understand me being a bit skeptical about it. Its my understanding that its only usable for people in the United States and requires people to fill out a survey any time they want to download anything which I suppose could explain how its viable for them to pay out as much per download…

      Selling a game is one thing but I kinda feel opposed to the idea of selling tutorials or monetizing them in any way that would adversely effect the experience for the people that want them. Knowledge more then anything else should be free. If anything the activity of reading a tutorial and learning should be subsidised and encouraged rather then fined.

      • emersons35 says:

        no i dont work for sharecash, just i dont have a paypal and cant get one. for people like me it would be better.

        now in your second paragraph. wow. im amazed. i gained a lotta respect for you. honesty, that is one of the best attitudes i have ever heard in my life.
        but anyways, would you do tutorials for free? i probably would love you forever if you made a bunch good tutorials for free. like no joke, i would hand-write you a thank-you note and mail it to you.
        but if you did do it, i could see it as it would get started and then the quality starts to go down then it stops. espically if no money’s involed. Thats just my prediction. i mean, thats what would happen to me, actually that has happended to me with Visual Basic tutorials.

        If your willing to spend the time to make the tutorials, i sure as hell will be willing to spend the time reading them. and promote them.

        P.S. i completely agree with you about learning.

        • Jonathan says:

          I think on the subject of tutorials, it would be an interesting idea to do tutorials on creating something bigger. I for one have made a tutorial that involved the full creation of a fairly simple game. It allows you to gloss over some more mundane things that people can figure out through context of how it’s used, and people will get more out of it because they end up with something interesting. An example would be something like, teaching the creation of a simplified version of they do not die. Something as simple as getting a playfield created, adding the ability to shoot, and adding enemy characters. That being said, I still think the best idea is starting a full project than doing tutorials.

          • ThatOtherDev says:

            There are some games that I want to do first on Wii but once I’m done with them and have familiarized myself with PSL1ght I’m going to redo and complete The World Drowns and I’ll write up a tutorial explaining the process as I do it.

          • EmersonS35 says:

            Like a “then I rendered this, and made this happen” or you gonna give a line of code then explain it?
            I would like the second one.

          • ThatOtherDev says:

            The intention is to do it the second way but it might end up somewhere in between. I’ll confess that I’m not very good at writing tutorials.

          • EmersonS35 says:

            Well your set on how to install ps3 sdk was good. Just it needed pictures.
            If there something hard to explain, just give a picture of it and it will make sense.
            And I can’t wait for the tutorials.
            Like no joke, I can not wait.
            Anyways, I’ll throw in a donation when the tutorial gets up.
            “if you get in to doubt, assume we don’t know what you talking about”

  4. Pastare says:

    Legally this would take you to a more dangerous area.
    Because you’d actually be making moneyz from something “illegal”. Given the fact that the PS3 should not be hacked, and your game requires a hacked version of the console to be played. Not to mention that you’d bypass Sony’s take on the profit (Sony gets 20% from every game published and sold on their consoles).

    Well anyway I am not against or for this idea particularly.
    But you should know that you’d be in darker waters for Sony.

  5. EvilTroopa says:

    IMHO, homebrew should stay free.
    Call me romantic, but to me, homebrew games are made by people who like to make them, just for the passion of it (like you do I guess).
    If I had to earn money from it, I’d try the smartphone business. It’s open to anyone who can code/design and one could hope to earn money from it.
    But any game made on consoles, without an official licence should stay free. It would avoid legal issues with the editors and if you’re actully brilliant (like you are ;)) it still has value for your résumé.
    So, to sum up : HomeBrew = Fun + Free !

  6. ylpkm says:

    um, idk if someone posted this already. (i didnt read the posts)
    make the base of the game free, but add some upgradable stuff for money… of course it could get pirated/shared, but it would make some money to loyal supporters.
    Like the untitled project, if it gets going good, make enemies, and for a price you can get special weapons or powers…
    just my 2 cents

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