Our History So Far…
I began developing games back in the late nineties – Xtreme Racing on Amiga was my first game, and ever since then I have only ever worked at my own development studios.
Starting with Graphic State, which initially was a sub-contract artwork studio, later moving into handheld game development on the Gameboy systems. This then evolved into Icon Games, focusing on small-ish console games on Playstation and Wii.
I then founded Super Icon in 2012, with a focus on creating the games that I wanted to make, rather than trying to ride the coat-tails of current popular games or casual games. The focus was always trying to make great games, as good as we possibly can – games that people enjoy playing. Like many other small indie developers, we’ve had ups and downs, but I think the games we’ve made are the best of my career so far. Our first proper release was Life of Pixel on Playstation Mobile.
Back in 2016, after the release of Life of Pixel on Steam and our Battlezone type shooter Vektor Wars, we decided that it would probably be best to partner with a publisher going forward. Our sales numbers were low, and we failed quite badly at building any sort of interest in the games. They didn’t completely tank, but the numbers were bad, and not enough to sustain a business.
At the time we had just finished a Kickstarter for another game, Best Buds vs Bad Guys, and managed to get a little income in to complete the development. During the Kickstarter I started chatting to a great bunch of guys at a studio called Whitemoon Dreams, in particular its CEO Jay.
The upshot was I explained we were not having much success at selling/promoting our games, and they agreed to act as a publisher on Life of Pixel and Best Buds going forward, to take them over onto Playstation and Switch.
We worked together with them, releasing Super Life of Pixel onto Playstation 4 and Vita in December 2018. Also, during the development phase, we pitched another title we were making, called Platform Maker. After a fair few rejections, we finally found a publisher, pQube. We renamed the game to PLATAGO, and it was released onto Steam Early Access in 2018.
Fast forward to 2019…
The Current State of Play
So, here we are. Unfortunately, despite most players seeming to enjoy Super Life of Pixel, the sales on Playstation have been DIRE. So bad, in fact, that Whitemoon have decided they are unable to continue publishing for the time-being. As such, in the first quarter of 2019, we have seen our income pretty much completely grind to a halt.
Our income wasn’t much before, and we have had several very tough times since the later Icon Games period onwards, where we’ve had little or no income for months at a time. This time though, it is all a little different, I’m kind of burnt out. I’m also getting on a bit, I’m 46 this year, with a family, including three great kids who are now that much older, and it is tough for them.
I think being a penniless indie develop is a younger person’s game! Certainly not conducive to maintaining a stable family life and keeping the wolves from the door.
A Tough Decision
So, I have come to the decision that, unless this year things improve and we break this cycle, I don’t think I am able to continue making games.
I love making games, but there comes a time when you think if no-one wants to play your games, and you can’t support your family – perhaps it is time to re-evaluate.
Another thing I have done over the last couple of years is develop and pitch other games – the first a horror game called The Tower, the other an Action RPG called They Came from Beyond. The plan was to make sure we continued to maintain revenue once we completed the on-going projects.
I pitched both to various publishers, and they were both rejected. I stopped work on The Tower, as without funding it was just too ambitious. There is a blog for it (updated until I stopped working on the project):
I continued with They Came from Beyond, for the following reasons:
- I love the game and believe in it
- I have enjoyed every second of developing it
- Although larger in scope than our other titles, it was still a realistic scope
- It is my last chance, perhaps, to continue making games
You can download the in-development build for free from itch.io:
Alas, I can’t get any interest in it at all, which kind of breaks my heart. I’ve also been working on it now for 15 months, completely un-funded, so there is a big personal commitment there.
So, there we are, but I do have a request…
If You Like Our Games, Support Us
We need your help!!
If you like any of our games – Life of Pixel, Vektor Wars, PLATAGO or like the look of They Came from Beyond – can you help us spread the word?
Without more support and a much larger community of followers, it will be impossible for us to continue making games. We just can’t continue without income – and I’ll be honest, it is a constant gut punch to try and continue developing when everything you do fails.
So, if you can – spread the word – help get us a little more known. Join our community on Discord or elsewhere, tell other gamers, sites or anywhere you think might be interested in our games. Without more followers, and more people buying our games, we’re done.
This was a tough post to write, and I hope it doesn’t come across in the wrong way – I just don’t know where else to turn. If anyone out there plays and enjoys our games, and wants us to continue making games – well, we can’t do it without you now.
Richard Hill-Whittall, March 26
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