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Russian media VC.ru has recently interviewed Vladimir Piskunov from Bitbox Ltd – the creator of Life is Feudal: Your Own. In his lengthy talk, he mentioned the hardships of indie game development and touched on the eternal money question.
As it appears, the leader of the Life is Feudal: Your Own team Vladimir Piskunov actually never worked in gamedev before. He was a well-groomed manager in a big governmental company in Russia with SUV, high salary and other goodies. Games were just his hobby. After playing Darkfall Online he decided to stop waiting for developers to make a game for him and decided to work on his own unique MMO project.
He tried to work two jobs but after a while was lucky enough to find an investor (one of the friends’ friend). Taking a sizable pay cut he began working on the game full-time. The original vision was incredibly huge. Vladimir was inspired by the Song of Ice and Fire, but he did not expect this setting to be so successful among wide audience.
The developers tried the crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. It failed miserably and the investors were not really pleased. They actually regret not making it on Kickstarter, but it was impossible at the time because of the platform’s regulations. All the traffic they operate was organic, but they hoped Kickstarter would give more coverage and woo more fans.
The team of the Life is Feudal consists of mostly newbies with very little professional experience. At the beginning the management couldn’t afford hiring anyone big and expensive, so a lot of people were working almost for free. The core team was about 13 people. Now, when the game is finally making money, they can hire some former devs from Ubisoft and other specialists. However the general team remains small: only 40 people.
The most interesting part of the interview is actually money. So, the whole development process took about 3 years. The budget was about $500k. This is a lot of money for an indie team truly, but the game brought much more than expected.
The developers managed to return the whole investment during the first 49 hours since the start of the official sales. The game performed exceptionally well and managed to overcome Wasteland 2, which was released about the same time.
They sold about 100k copies during the first month and are still selling about 15k copies every month. Life is Feudal is about to become a $10 million business. So no wonder they hired Sean Bean to voice the intro to the game.
Now the company is looking into publishing other games and working on other big ambitions projects. For the full version of the interview in Russian check out vc.ru.