Entrepreneur Plus - Short White
For Subscribers

Get in the Game In the $18 billion video game industry, independent developers are teaming up with the big boys.

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Whether it's deftly targeting an opponent in combat or solving a difficult puzzle, video gamers are always looking to overcome the next challenge. In fact, total video game industry sales hit almost $18 billion in 2007, up from $12.5 billion in 2006. And software sales alone grew by 18 percent, according to the NPD Group.

To meet the explosive demand, game console manufacturers like Microsoft are contracting with independent game developers to create brilliant games. "More than 25 independent studios are the creative fuel behind the original games that represent more than a quarter of our Xbox 360 Live Arcade library today," says Jeremy Wacksman, global marketing manager of Xbox Live.

Game industry veteran Steve Taylor, 38, started Wahoo Studios Inc. in 2001, developing games under the NinjaBee brand. He eventually hooked up with Xbox Live through a combination of luck and persistence. "It's about talking to the right people," says Taylor, who co-owns the Orem, Utah-based company with Brent Fox, 37, and Lane Kiriyama, 52. "We keep trying and trying. After about 15 conversations, something works out." NinjaBee projects sales of nearly $3 million this year, due in part to popular games like Cloning Clyde.

The founders of The Behemoth in San Diego also found success working with XBLA, selling games like Alien Hominid. When they started their company in 2003, John Baez, 43, Tom Fulp, 30, and Dan Paladin, 28, would cold-call companies to try to get their games published. They showed off their games at the 2005 Independent Game Festival and won three major awards, which got their games noticed by the industry at large. Baez advises getting "as much experience as you can in the industry before starting your company." And Paladin stresses taking risks. Following their instincts has helped push company sales into the six figures.

Creativity is needed, and the market is ripe for small independent companies. "Massive consolidation within the mainstream game industry has ratcheted up the barrier to entry, yet small, nimble companies are doing better every day by exploring new audiences and channels of distribution," says Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association.

Got a great game idea for Xbox Live Arcade? Independents can work with a game publisher who will connect with XBLA decision-makers. Developers interested in creating a game for Xbox Live Arcade can send background information about their company or experience to arcade@microsoft.com. E-mails should include a detailed description of the game, screen mock-ups and preferably a gameplay video or playable prototype.

Continue reading this article — and all of our other premium content with Entrepreneur+

Join the internet’s leading entrepreneur community! With your subscription you’ll get:

  • Access to all of our premium content and an ad-free experience
  • A complimentary subscription to Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Four free e-books a year and 20% off everything from our bookstore
  • Exclusive events with business celebrities and successful entrepreneurs

Editor's Pick

A Father Decided to Change When He Was in Prison on His Son's Birthday. Now His Nonprofit Helps Formerly Incarcerated Applicants Land 6-Figure Jobs.
A Teen Turned His Roblox Side Hustle Into a Multimillion-Dollar Company — Now He's Working With Karlie Kloss and Elton John
3 Mundane Tasks You Should Automate to Save Your Brain for the Big Stuff
The Next Time Someone Intimidates You, Here's What You Should Do
5 Ways to Manage Your Mental Health and Regulate Your Nervous System for Sustainable Success

Related Topics


4 Ways CEOs Can Overcome Decision Fatigue

Here are four tried-and-true methods to combat decision fatigue.

Health & Wellness

8 Mental Health Habits Every Entrepreneur Should Be Practicing

If you want to avoid burnout and live a healthy, yet still productive life, it's important to make your mental health a priority.

Growing a Business

How to Build a Thriving Community That Will Skyrocket Your Business

Build a strong community, and transform your business with these proven strategies.

Business News

'Do You Hate Me?': High School Teacher Shares Wild Emails He Receives From Students

Jordan Baechler teaches high school students in Ontario, Canada.

Business News

Hedge Fund Pays NYC Interns $20,000 a Month on Average, Sent to Lavish Palm Beach Kickoff

Citadel is known for its over-the-top parties and company retreats.